Just this week, CNN unveiled “new” photos from abu Gharib prison in Iraq. Meanwhile, The New York Times told of a United Nations’ report that criticized our detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The U.N. urged the U.S. to “refrain from any practice amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, discrimination on the basis of religion and violations of the right to health and freedom of religion.” Sound advice -- right from the folks who put Sudan on a human rights commission.
Of course, pessimism about the U.S., our methods and our goals is nothing new. Last year at this time, Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., warned that in Iraq, “Our military and the insurgents are fighting for the same thing -- the hearts and minds of the people -- and that is a battle we are not winning.”
Amid such negativism, it’s always welcome to catch a glimpse of sunlight -- and that’s just what readers will find in Martin Gilbert’s new book “Churchill and America.”
Gilbert is a decorated historian, prolific author and Winston Churchill’s official biographer. He has literally written the book on the great British prime minister, a larger-than-life figure who lived through most of the 20th century and did much to shape it.
In this volume, Gilbert focuses particularly on Churchill’s relationship with the United States, which he saw as a great force for good in the world. Rather than push the U.S. away, Churchill wanted to embrace it. “Never be separated from the Americans,” he warned his cabinet just before he stepped aside as prime minister in 1955. He’d spent the preceding decades making sure Britain took his advice.
That’s because Churchill recognized that American military power would spread peace and prosperity around the world. The United States, he announced in 1946, was “at the pinnacle of world power.” That power, he warned, came with “an awe-inspiring accountability to the future.” It would be up to Britain and America, the great democratic nations of the world, “to guard the homes of the common people from the horrors and miseries of another war.”