Winston Churchill: His Times, His Crimes
Bertolt Brecht once wrote: ‘Pity the land that needs a hero.’ The deification of Churchill has reached new heights in post-Thatcher Britain. Much of the writing is hagiography.
In his new book Tariq Ali puts Churchill in the context of his times. An imperial war leader for whom all other priorities (with the partial exception of his own career) were subordinated to the needs and interests of the British Empire. He defended and participated in its crimes through two world wars, colonial capers in Sudan and Afghanistan, crushing working class dissent at home, etc. His role as wartime Prime Minister in approving the man-created famine in India has now been documented by Indian historians.
Ali’s critical but judicious account of Churchill’s crimes will be the first major critique and will counter much of the existing literature, giving us in the process a history of the world that Churchill inhabited. Apart from all else he was a white supremacist and a strong believer that Western civilization had the right to conquer and rule the ‘lesser nations’. Such a world-view is by no means extinct as the US wars in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia reveal. Britain’s backing for these wars is one important reason for the Churchill cult.