Churchill believes the Soviet Union “desires the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines.” How might those expansionist desires challenge the Western principle of national political self-determination, a cause it championed during World War 2?
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When Churchill said this statement he meant several things. He felt that the expansionist desires and doctrines could end up challenging the Western principles of national and political self-determination (Churchill, 1995). First, there was the issue of trade within the free-market setting. The expansionist tendency would lead to a halt in trading with other states that had adopted the communist doctrines. It is due to this that Churchill talked of English-speaking countries coming together to stop the expansion. This commonwealth unity would be the best buffer against any Russian influence. He saw the Soviet Union as building blocks and spreading its influence beyond its borders with a sinister motive. It was trying to find allies at the speed never seen before. This was the reason Churchill was trying to urge the US to be alert to the awakening. To stave off any possible war in the future, Churchill advocated for unity among the Commonwealth countries. Russia continued enlarging its sphere of influence at a time the US was trying to help Germany recover from the effects of war.
Churchill’s speech acknowledges “Russia’s need to be secure on her western borders,” but at the same time it raises concerns about Soviet actions in Eastern Europe. Is Churchill being inconsistent? Or does he provide concrete justifications for those concerns?
There was no inconsistency in Churchill’s speech when he talked about the need for Russia to have secure borders. This is due to a number of reasons. It should be noted that Russia dominated many countries except Germany. In fact, he acknowledged that most ancient cities fell under Russia’s sphere of influence. These included Warsaw and Belgrade, among others. All that he wanted to show was that though Russia had concrete justification to protect its borders, it showed signs of aggression which could lead to another world war. Based on this, it can be seen that Churchill was opposed to Russia’s wish to dominate other countries in the region. In other words, all he was saying was that Russia did not need the whole of Eastern Europe to shield itself from external attack. To this end, he voiced his suspicion of Russia. He said that the Soviet Union was not giving the Eastern European countries a free hand in determining their destinies. This could be seen from the way the Communist parties in these countries were being catapulted with a view of advancing totalitarian control. Turkey and Iran had been under this pressure too. This was suspicious. In fact, Churchill revealed his love of democracy when he talked of what the British and US unity could mean to the rest of the world.
In his speech, Churchill asserts “There is nothing they (the Russians) admire so much as strength, and nothing for which they have less respect for than military weakness.” If he isn’t advocating a direct military confrontation with the Soviet Union, then what is he saying?
Churchill was trying to show the importance of strength. It was only through it that solutions could be reached. The Russians valued military power since they were aware of its benefits. To them, military weakness was the worst thing they could contemplate. A weak military could easily be defeated, and no military force could wish that to happen. That is why others employed new technology to come up with more sophisticated weapons. Churchill talked about the nuclear technology getting into the hands of rogue regimes. He was not advocating for a direct military confrontation with Russia but was using war for illustrative purposes only. He wanted a peaceful world, as the title of his speech suggested. This was why he talked about a powerful deterrent force under the United Nations umbrella.
Churchill delivered this speech to an American audience, but after reading it, one might conclude it could have been given in any western country. Why did he pick the US?
Churchill chose the United States because the country had become a superpower after the war. Another reason was that the US was an English-speaking country. Moreover, he felt that America and Britain would form a formidable alliance. His speech resonated well with the people because the memories of war were still raw. He said that any country could find itself embroiled in war. He saw Russia’s actions as moving towards the direction of another world war. He did not want that war.
Churchill, W., (1995) The sinews of peace. Web.