“Not Yet”…George Will on Churchillian Realism

Nik Bednarski, M.D., Going Postal
“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.” – Or in Johnson’s case both at once
“Boris Johnson” by Financial Times photos is licensed under CC BY 2.0

On March 5th, the conservative columnist George F. Will gave the 34th Enid and R. Crosby Kemper Lecture at the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s “Sinews of Peace” speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.  In that speech Churchill told America and the world what it did not want to hear, that an Iron Curtain had descended on Europe and the Cold War was upon us.   Churchill taught timeless lessons in the necessities of American power and responsibilities as well as its limitations.  He had learned that some people in leadership had no sense of these limits.

George Will spoke with “Churchillian realism” reflecting on our history and foreseeable future.  He reviewed the lessons of Vietnam which did not save us from our inappropriate interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, noting that the lesson of history is that we do not learn from history.  Perhaps because our leaders, unlike Churchill, are not “marinated in history”.  Our nation, quoting Margaret Thatcher, was not made by history, but by philosophy, a national premise “…that the principles by which we live and that we espouse are explicitly universal.”  The Constitution, Will noted, is our “civil religion”.  Churchill knew that America could not transfer this philosophy to other nations, or build other nations, which elsewhere grow organically through their history. We must remember that nothing lasts; including our principles unless “the only political things that last are the things that we work tirelessly to make permanent or to get rid of.”  Freedom is not directly exportable; among nations and peoples there are many competing values and freedom is but one.

Mr. Will felt that Churchill today might have said that there is a democracy recession underway around the world, and that further conflict can be prevented by timely action.  “What prevents timely action is unrealism.  The human tendency to flinch from unpleasant facts.”   Americans were in 1946 tired of responsibilities abroad and discord at home.  The subtext of Churchill’s “Sinews of Peace” speech to America is that “for a great nation, for a great Republic, there is no rest, not now, not ever.

Although George Will astutely reviewed Churchill’s analysis of America’s place in the world, much of what he said applies to our domestic political life.  We are tired of responsibilities abroad and withered by domestic discord.  Will says, “There are those that advocate a kind of tribal nationalism, an ethnonationalism suited for what these advocates call a ‘Caucasian Christian nation.’”. Such persons are adversaries to universal natural rights.  More importantly, the Left seeks to change America into a Baltic polyglot of tribes each defined by subjugation to universal “white privilege”. They see no limits to government.  They seek to get rid of political things like the just consent of the governed and equality of all under the law.  We will lose our nationhood, our philosophy of forming a more perfect union, unless we work tirelessly to make permanent the promises of our founding documents real and present to all in our nation.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (not equality of outcome) is the unalienable property of all humans regardless of origin or choice.  That and only that must be the guiding star in our actions of, by, and for our people.  No rest.  Not now, not ever.

Ed. Nik comes to us via Patrick Barron.

Nicholas E. Bednarski, M.D. graduated after three years as a National Merit Scholar from Tulane University with a Bachelor of Science, then after three years from the University of Texas Medical Branch with a Medical Doctorate. Postgraduate training included Internal Medicine at the University of Southern California Los Angeles County Medical Center, Nephrology fellowship at University of California Los Angeles Medical Center as a National Kidney Foundation Research Fellow, and finally as Chief Medical Resident at Wadsworth Veterans Administration Medical Center in Los Angeles. Following two years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force as a teaching nephrologist at CONUS Scott AFB in Illinois, he then entered private practice in Las Vegas, Nevada and served as an Associate Professor in the University of Nevada Medical School teaching program at University Hospital, Las Vegas. He and his family made their final move to Ventura County, California where he continued private practice at five local hospitals, four local outpatient dialysis centers, and teaching resident physicians at two local hospitals. During four decades of medical practice he received board certification in Internal Medicine, Nephrology, Critical Care Medicine, and Quality Assurance/Utilization Review. He remains active in history, current affairs, cycling, hiking, and other outdoor recreation.

© Nik Bednarski, M.D. 2021

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