Iron Curtain Speech Essay
Context: 2nd WW left only 2 Great Powers standing in any strength (US & Soviet Union) • US emerged physically unscathed from war, economy stronger than ever, quickly demobilized, possessed atomic bomb • Soviet Union devasted by war, 20 mil of population persisted, but still formidable military power (4 mill soldiers under arms & still formidable military power & in control of population & territories in central/eastern Europe) • Became common speaking of 2 as superpowers – contential land giants, possessing enormous resources, overshadowing all other states • Characteristics of 2-state system = each power knows in advance who its only dangerous enemy can be • In such situation diplomatic equilibrium more difficult • Measures taken by either power for its security seen as aggression/provocations to other & each exaggerates other’s strength • After war US & USSR fell into unhappy dual relationship
• Compounded by deep-seated ideological tensions b/w capital democracy & Marxist-Leninist communism dating back to Bolshevik Rev. of 1917 • Diplomatic & ideological clash of interests came to known as Cold War Profile of Churchill The Right Honourable Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874 – 1965) • Had a brief but eventful year in army, afterwards became Conservative Member of Parliament 1900 • Held many high posts in Liberal & Conservative gov’ts during 1st 3 decades of century • @ outbreak of WW2 appointed as 1st Lord of the Admiralty (post which he earlier held from 1911-15 • May 1940, became PM & Minister of Defence, remained in office until 1945
• Took over premiership again in Conservative victory of 1951 & resigned in 1955 • Remained Member of Parliament until general election of 1964, didn’t seek reelection • Queen Elizabeth conferred Churchill dignity of Knighthood & invested him w/ insignia of Order of the Garter (1953) • Among other countless honours & decorations received, special mention should be made of honorary citizenship of US which Pres. Kennedy conferred on him (1963) • Churchill’s literary career began w/ campaign reports: The Story of the Malakand Field Force (1898) & The River War (1899) and cont’d to publish until his last works Victory (1946) Iron Curtain Speech Exerts from Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech, at Westminister College, Fulton, Missouri, March 5th 1946 “Ladies and gentlemen, the United States stands at this time at the pinnacle of world power. It is a solemn moment for the American Democracy.
For with primacy in power is also joined an awe-inspiring accountability to the future. If you look around you, you must feel not only the sense of duty done but also you must feel anxiety lest you fall below the level of achievement. Opportunity is here and now, clear and shining for both our countries. To reject it or ignore it or fritter it away will bring upon us all the long reproaches of the after-time. It is necessary that the constancy of mind, persistency of purpose, and the grand simplicity of decision shall rule and guide the conduct of the English-speaking peoples in peace as they did in war. We must, and I believe we shall, prove ourselves equal to this severe requirement.
• Creating a sense of unification & obligation within the American people, in order to end the spread of Communism around the world • Exemplifying US as a dominant world power • Trying to create an “us vs. them” mentality to prevent the spread of global communism • With the immense amount of power that USA has gained after WW2, Churchill mentions that they have a responsibility to defeat the rising communist regime: With great power, comes great responsibility” • Churchill attempting to improve relations between USA & UK ( strengthening there alliance through the this speech “To give security to these countless homes, they must be shielded form two gaunt marauders, war and tyranny.
We al know the frightful disturbance in which the ordinary family is plunged when the curse of war swoops down upon the bread-winner and those for whom he works and contrives. The awful ruin of Europe, with all its vanished glories, and of large parts of Asia glares us in the eyes. When the designs of wicked men or the aggressive urge of mighty States dissolve over large areas the frame of civilized society, humble folk are confronted with difficulties with which they cannot cope. For them is all distorted, all is broken, all is even ground to pulp. ” • Describing the situation in Europe due to the war, promoting the Marshall Plan • Churchill uses emotions to further inspire the crowd to join forces with the Americans to ight collaboratively against communism • The speech was responsible for changing the way Western democracies viewed Communist east (The Sinews of Peace – Perception is Reality)
• * Truman needed help to change public opinion – Churchill was a respected victorious leader and therefore was successful in convincing the public to act against the growth of communism Impact on American Life/World Life (which ever one you like to put) • Churchill “anuciated & articulated the situation w/ extraordinary prescience. ” • Called for continuation & intensification of Anglo-Amn relationship to respond to threat of Soviet Russian expansionism • Henry Ryan (A New Look At Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech, 1979) reassessed speech & its implications; not true = surprise to Truman & Bristish cabinet; term “iron curtain” not original: Lady Snowden (1920s), Goebbels & Churchill • Churchill saved Western civilizations, if not world • Isaiah Berlin (Mr.
Churchill, 1940) conveyed how inspiring & crucial Churchill was to Britain @ moment; “He spoke to the people as no one has ever before or since… Most of all, Mr. Churchill has a sense of the past” • George Arthur praised Churchill as “a faithful servant of the Crown” who saved his country in its hour or peril • Speeched viewed as marking beginning of Cold War by many historians • Made more Americans aware of the growing “threat” of Communism, by providing awareness more Americans supported the Cold War & its arms race • Promoted Truman Doctrine & Marshall Plan • Brought Britain & US closer together despite past differences (American Revolution 1775-83)