Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The inexorable sterness of Churchill

Given the London terror attacks, Ben McIntyre considers how Churchill would have thought about terrorism. McIntryre’s attempt is not entirely satisfactory (especially regarding Iraq and pre-emptive war), but he does note that Winston would have advanced (as he did in the Sudan) with "inexorable sterness." James W. Muller has edited the first full (not abridged) re-edition of The River War, the first since its original publication since 1899. The original two volumes were shortened into one in 1902, and all subsequent editions have relied on this. That injustice is now righted. Muller’s edition will be published September 1st.

Update: Little Green Footballs notes that the article neuters Winston’s message. Here is what Churchill said, in its entirety about the horrific battle to wrest the Sudan from the jihadists of the 19th century:

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities - but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.

—Sir Winston Churchill, from The River War, first edition, Vol. II, pages 248-50 (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1899).

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People might also want to compare McIntyre’s piece with the piece I wrote for On Principle shortly after Sept. 11: A Churchillian Perspective on September 11.

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