We received a letter from an erudite reader we are proud to number among our audience. With his permission, we are publishing it, with the proviso that his views are his alone and do not reflect the views of the Department of Defense or any of its arms. His citation of Winston Churchill speaks volumes about our present day situation:
My name is Peter Ahern and I am an active duty Marine officer currently stationed in Florida. My Marines and I have supported operations in Iraq for the last two years and we are very proud of our and the Nation's accomplishments in Iraq and in many other locations. What I and many others fear most is not an Iraqi insurgency but a National sense of despondency and as the British in WWII called it — defeatism.
While rereading Winston Churchill's War Leadership by Martin Gilbert I found an interesting passage on combating defeatism during the dark days of the summer of 1940. After a German raid on Newcastle in which 11 civilians were killed, Churchill was urged to send a message to his government officials in order to caution against a mood of defeatism.
"The message, which was printed over a facsimile of Churchill's signature, began:' "On what may be the eve of an attempted invasion or battle for our native land, the prime minister desires to impress upon all persons holding responsible positions in the Government, in the fighting services or in the civil departments, their duty to maintain a spirit of alert and confident energy. The Prime Minister expects all His Majesty's Servants in high places to set an example of steadiness and resolution. They should check and rebuke expressions of loose and ill—digested opinion in their circles, or by their subordinates. They should not hesitate to report, or if necessary remove, any officers or officials who are found to be consciously exercising a disturbing or depressing influence, and whose talk is calculated alarm or despondency. Thus alone will they be worthy of the fighting men, who in the air, on the sea, and on the land have already met the enemy without sense of being outmatched in martial qualities" '
Martin Gilbert WINSTON CHURCHILL'S WAR LEADERSHIP (New York: Vintage Books, 2004) Pg's 25—26
I have often found Churchill not only fascinating but also comforting in times of trouble or crisis. As always, Winston never fails to inform! A reading of Churchill's actions during WWII might assist some of our contemporary leaders — on both sides of the aisle.
Keep up the good work, I read the AT on a daily basis and am certainly the wiser for it.
We are both honored and humbled.