Barack Churchill, 1939
Winston Churchill, well before he became prime minister in May 1940, was busy all through 1939 prompting the British government to prepare for war -- and then, as first lord of the Admiralty, helping to direct it once it broke out. But what if Churchill had been Barack Obama? What would Britain’s foremost opponent of appeasement have been like?
The Munich Agreement
Obama-Churchill might have said something like the following in regards to the 1938 Munich Agreement.
“We live in a complex world and at a challenging time. And none of these challenges lend themselves to quick or easy solutions, but all of them require British leadership. If we stay patient and determined, then we will, in fact, meet these challenges. The Munich Agreement is a comprehensive government agreement. It is the first that actually constrains Nazi Germany from further aggression, and one whose provisions are transparent and enforceable. It is a sober and judicious way to preclude war and to bring Germany back into the family of nations and to become a credible regional power, while allowing the German people to express their legitimate aspirations.”
“Obviously, the last twenty years of ostracizing Germany has not worked. So it’s time for some creative reset diplomacy, and a reengagement to get out of the rut of the last two decades. I don’t believe, as did former British officials, in snubbing supposed enemies, but rather in engaging and talking with them. Lots of you in the American newspaper business keep expecting us, like some American baseball team, to hit home runs. Well, we’re perfectly happy to hit singles and doubles like this agreement.”
“Finally, the relationship between Germany and Western Europe includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also a long history of conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Germans, and a shaky peace in which German-speaking majorities were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity led many Germans to view the West as hostile to the traditions of German culture. Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Germans. The attacks of 1939 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians have led some in my country to view Germany as inevitably hostile not only to Britain and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust. So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.”
“How can we in good conscience justify war before we’ve tested a diplomatic agreement that achieves our objectives?”