On March 5, 1946, the once and future prime minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill, spoke at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. He was introduced by President Harry Truman, who then sat and watched as Churchill, the man who had recognized and fought the threat of Nazism before anyone else, identified the threat that would menace the world for the next half century. "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent," Churchill warned. "Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe."
The Communist threat didn't end with its domination of the Eastern bloc, Churchill continued. It had infiltrated the West. "In a great number of countries, far from the Russian frontiers and throughout the world, Communist fifth columns are established and work in complete unity and absolute obedience to the directions they receive from the Communist center. ... the Communist parties or fifth columns constitute a growing challenge and peril to Christian civilization."
The West took Churchill's alarm seriously. America began ferreting out Soviet agents, building its intelligence and military capabilities. Eventually, the ultimate Cold Warrior, Ronald Reagan, escalated defense spending to levels unmatchable by the USSR and brought down the iron curtain altogether.
None of it would have been possible without Churchill's speech.
Today, we face another implacable foe -- but we have lacked our Churchill. For 10 years, we have called our current conflict the "war on terror." We have pretended that multiculturalism -- the elevation of all cultures to a common moral plane -- can successfully quench the hatred of our enemies. We have fooled ourselves into believing that radical Muslims are moderates so long as they don't strap bombs to their chests.
But we have not had our Churchill. George W. Bush never synthesized with clarity who we fight and why we fight them; he shied away from liberal sacred cows, preferring to hide behind buzzwords about cultural tolerance. Barack Obama has been exponentially worse, embracing our enemies or even bowing to them.
Now we have our Churchill. His name is David Cameron, and he is prime minister of Great Britain. This week, he made the most important speech of the last 60 years. Speaking at the annual Munich Security Conference -- standing in the shadow of the country dominated by fascism and split by communism -- Cameron eloquently named Western civilization's enemies.
"We need to be absolutely clear on where the origins of these terrorist attacks lie -- and that is the existence of an ideology, 'Islamist extremism,'" Cameron said. Over and over again, Cameron hammered home the point. "The root lies in the existence of this extremist ideology," he stated. Then mirroring Churchill's look at the problem of fifth columnists growing within the West, Cameron explained, "We won't defeat terrorism simply by the actions we take outside our borders. Europe needs to wake up to what is happening in our own countries."
Cameron went even further. He noted that for too long, the West has labeled any Muslim without an exploding body part a "moderate." This, he pointed out, was inaccurate: "Move along the spectrum, and you find people who may reject violence, but who accept various parts of the extremist world-view including real hostility towards Western democracy and liberal values."
Finally, Cameron took a sledgehammer to the chief article of faith of the left since the 1960s: multiculturalism. "Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream," Cameron asserted. "We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values."
Cameron's speech recognized a basic truth: the West cannot survive if it is suicidal. The West must be strong and confident, willing to impose its values on its own societies and champion those values around the world. And the West cannot tolerate any system of values that prizes oppression above freedom.
In the United States, the reaction has been muted. Obsessed with Egypt coverage and the Super Bowl, the media has ignored Cameron's speech completely, burying it in the back pages. Unfortunately, the West may not be ready to hear Cameron's words; we may be too far gone to save ourselves. But Cameron's speech can be a turning point, if only we heed it.<