FDR and Churchill- Their Political and Military Legacy 4-1-05

FDR and Churchill
Their Political and Military Legacy
April 1, 2005
Richard J. Garfunkel
Churchill saves the West! by Kaaren Hale!
Very well said! With regards to Churchill the political role of the American system is much different then Britain. Churchill never had to really stand for election as leader and was never really trusted with “domestic” responsibilities. He was much more of a “loose cannon” and never really felt comfortable working with others. He was certainly a fabulous talent, but had too many inner doubts to be completely confident with himself. His “black” moods and depression limited his ability to have the confidence to “rule.” He had too many opinions that limited his ability to make political alliances. He was a man of action and not a calculating “planner.” He never understood the need to build organization of political support. He was basically a talented loner.
He was not willing to sublimate himself to the will of others and never could pose as a team player. he wasn't prepared for the 1945 elections that swamped him and his government. His campaign was terrible and he did not have a “clue” what the public was thinking. He was still a captive of the upper classes that dominated British life. He seemed unaware and unconcerned regarding how the MacDonald-Baldwin-Chamberlain governments ignored the working classes that suffered throughout the Depression. He was not big on real reform that would have worked to restructure the critically unbalanced British economic and social landscape and infrastructure.  He never understood the moribund future of colonialism and his attitude towards India was pretty foolish and primitive. His political philosophy was inconstant and vacillating. He constantly was mistrusted by both sides of the British ideological divide. He was not able to dominate either party and was perceived by the public as a political outsider with no place to “hang his hat.” His strategy in the First World War was badly flawed by the disaster of Gallipoli. He “snafu “was actuated more by logistical insanity then strategic miscalculation. All in all it was a terrible costly failure in blood, material, and his career.
With regards to WW II his strategy was basically no better then Chamberlain's and he experienced disasters with the navy in Norway, the British 8th Army in North Africa and its collapse at Tobruk, the insane and huge defeat and disaster in Singapore, (the worst most foolish British defeat in history), the disaster at Dunkerque, the catastrophic losses of the Repulse and Prince of Wales off Hainan Island, near the Chinese mainland, the abandonment of Greece and Crete, the ill-fated attack at Dieppe, the alienation of the French and the subsequent defection of the French fleet causing the need for it to be crippled by British naval action and many others. He was lucky that the Nazis re-directed the Luftwaffe to bomb British cities and not go after their radar early warning stations, their aerodromes and the British fighter defense. A smartly delivered strategy against these targets would have attritted the British to a defenseless posture. 
Basically Lend-Lease, the US Navy and the convoy system, the undeclared US naval war in the North Atlantic against the Nazi submarine wolfpacks and the attacks by Germany on Yugoslavia and Greece, culminating with the postponed late spring , early summer invasion of Russia helped Britain survive. Churchill strong vocal leadership rallied Britain and the free world, but without Roosevelt and the power that he formulated by creating the “Arsenal of Democracy,” Britain would have eventually been beaten despite the flawed Hitlerian strategy. If the US had not helped Britain with Lend-Lease and our fleet, Russia probably would have been neutralized and the further European resistance would have ceased. Greece and Yugoslavia were basically beaten, and the rest of the Eastern Europe, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania were German allies. Turkey was in Germany's camp and would have remained a “player” looking to get back into reclaiming their former Ottoman Empire.
Churchill did have many successes aside from American help. Their victory at Taranto that devastated the Italian fleet, the sinking of the Graf Spee, the hunting down of the Bismarck, the destruction of the 10 German destroyers off Norway, his actions with Orde Wingate and the Chindits in Burma, his mobilizing massive bombing raids over Germany, the destruction of the French dry docks, and his selection of Montgomery to head the British 8th and his subsequent victory at El Alemain were strong plusses. But even with the entrance of America into the war, later British strategy with Churchill's blessing and interference led to the huge loses in Holland with the ill-fated Market-Garden assault on the Dutch bridges. Montgomery, Churchill's greatest choice for leadership squandered his opportunity to cross the Rhine and was trumped by the American capture of the Ludendorf Bridge at Remagen. That single event of intrepid work by American forces dealt a huge blow to German resistance on the Western front. While Montgomery was accumulating landing craft, the US Army was surging over the Rhine with men and armor, creating an unassailable bridgehead, and trapping German forces on the wrong side of the River.
FDR, on the other hand mobilized the American economy in an unprecedented way, fought an effective two ocean war, selected and appointed excellent overall leadership with his Joint Chiefs lead by Admiral Leahy, who coordinated the activities of Generals Marshall and Arnold along with Admiral King. FDR's selections, in all of the theaters of his responsibility; of MacAthur, Nimitz, Eisenhower, reflected excellent carefully thought out judgment. Their choices of subordinates that included Bedell-Smith, Clark, Bradley, Patton, Hodges, Simpson, Eaker, Doolittle, Stillwell, Halsey, Spruance, Vandergrift, Smith, Lemay and many others spelled eventual success. His speeches,and cool leadership gave the people confidence after Pearl Harbor and the loss of the Philippines. FDR's leadership of the wartime conferences at Argentia Bay, Quebec, Casablanca, Teheran and Yalta  were the driving force behind victory and the post-war dominance of the West. His sponsoring of the Bretton Woods Conference had the most lasting effect on the future world's economies vis-a-vis monetary stability. All in all FDR's domestic leadership before and during the war were unprecedented. The late President, the architect of victory, won a hard earned election in 1944, with excellent majorities in Congress, even as man suffering from advance heart disease and arterial sclerosis. He was able to maintain his majorities in Congress all through his tenure in office, and even though the Democrats narrowly lost Congress in 1946, they quickly recovered their majorities until the Eisenhower landslide of 1952. But from 1954 until the 1980's the FDR-New Deal coalition of Democrats maintained Congressional hegemony.
Churchill, as a man, was bold, talented and basically remarkable. He was a brilliant speaker, a marvelous writer, a brave soldier, a reporter, a painter, a magnificent Parliamentarian, a cabinet official, a Prime Minister, and most importantly a beloved war-time leader. He embodied what was great about Britain. But he was a failure as a politician, lacked excellent judgment went it came to strategy and suffered from great insecurities. His terrible childhood and education plagued him with self-doubts, depression and lack of direction. Overall he was able to overcome all of those limitations. Churchill was still, at heart, part of the “ruling class” that dominated Britain. he was still part of the Imperialist mindset, and he was still sadly lacking, with regards, to what the average “Brit” needed. He never built a political base, and when the post-war choices were made he was cast aside with little regret from the British people. His return to office in 1951 was no great success and he was too, too old to be a major factor in re-shaping Britain after years of war and social reform.
FDR was not the writer that Churchill was, but as an orator he was certainly in his league. He was determined and self-confident. His childhood was one of nurtured success and happiness. He was beloved by his adoring parents. He was self-educated to age fourteen and went on to the best schools where he achieved moderate success. He was the single greatest politician in modern history and was able to overcome personal and physical blows and disasters. He was a vigorous man who overcame a life-time of sickness. He had wonderful mentors, Theodore Roosevelt, Al Smith and Woodrow Wilson. He took something from all of them, and was smart enough to avoid the problems they all experienced. He shaped his own destiny, built the Democratic Party, reversed the Depression, rallied the public, instilled great respect from the world at large, inspired great enemies and opposition, took on the Fascists when America wanted no part of that fight, created the United Nations, built the “Arsenal of Democracy” and through his actions, at the Atlantic Conference in Argentia Bay, put forth his vision of the world based on the “Four Freedoms.” His vision is the vision of the modern world, his vision is of one of the world community pulling together for the common good.
Churchill really left no governmental legacy. He really never governed. FDR's legacy was one of not only unprecedented leadership, but of government innovation, reform and restructuring. Both have great unequalled places in the history of our world and our time.
—–Original Message—–
From: Kaaren [mailto:kaarenhale@btinternet.com]
Sent: Friday, April 01, 2005 8:49 AM
To: 'Richard Garfunkel'
Subject: RE: FDR revealed April 17-18, 2005 The History Channel

Dear Richard, 
     The whole world acknowledges that FDR was not only a great leader but a great man with broad vision.  He was most extraordinary and encapsulated the values of the best of his class, which was admitted even by Joe Alsopp his cousin  who didn't seem to like him much.  He was dismissed as a light weight by some, hated as a traitor to his class by others;  but the most important lesson to be learned in my opinion from him was to listen, to not be too ideological, to take advice from the brightest people he could, and to have compassion for others.  Perhaps he learned that having had polio in his 30s.  The healing process which was slow and frustrating must have been very humbling.  That said, he had a bouyant public personality, was never a hypocrite, and loved the game of politics.  Sadly, his like has not been seen again.  LBJ learned from him, but not enough to save him.  Clinton no doubt learned lessons from him, but never found any large heroic issues to mark his reign, and worse seemed to tempt fate to get caught at doing things he shouldn't have.  FDR liked the ladies too, but the press were gentler and kinder then.  Every leader in America has had to cling to some extent to his coat tails but none have had the magic.  Kennedy, though handsome and charismatic was ultimately weak.  Carter was a micro manager who got bogged down in minutia and could not see the big picture.  Bush has done some good things for no doubt the wrong reasons, and some wrong things for some good reasons.  Its a tough job.  If you have to have a hero, FDR is a good one.  But for my money Winston Churchill is fully his peer.  Adventurous, romantic, hard headed, devious, never dull, kind, horrid and smart.  What a guy.  And he saved the WEST from Hitler really, by sheer grit till the the Calvalry arrived (we won't mention Stalin in the same breath. ).  With love Kaaren 

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Press Release Source: The History Channel

The History Channel Presents: FDR: A Presidency RevealedThursday March 31, 12:07 pm ET

– Featuring Rare and Never-Seen Before Footage, Photographs and Oral Histories from Private CollectionsTwo-Part, Four-Hour Special Offers a Fresh Perspective on the Public and Private Franklin Delano RooseveltWorld Premiere on The History Channel Sunday-Monday, April 17-18 at 9 pm ET/PT

NEW YORK, March 31 /PRNewswire/ — To a generation of Americans, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was seen as the savior of the American Dream. But behind Roosevelt's titanic struggle to pull America from the abyss of the Depression and the horrors of war were personal struggles just as significant: physical incapacity, distance from his wife, and badly deteriorating health, even as he orchestrated World War II. The new two-part, four-hour special from The History Channel goes beyond the public façade of FDR and into the complex life that shaped one of America's greatest leaders. The special presentation, FDR: A PRESIDENCY REVEALED premieres Sunday-Monday, April 17-18 at 9 pm ET/PT on The History Channel.

Drawing on previously unseen and unheard footage, FDR: A PRESIDENCY REVEALED provides a definitive look inside the life of a man who was known the world over, but was intimate with very few. It begins at the opening of FDR's first term as president, with America facing declining markets, 25 percent unemployment and the imminent collapse of the nation's banking system, and continues to his death twelve years later, after a re-invigoration of the U.S. economy and just prior to the surrender of Germany. The details in between paint a remarkable portrait of courage, triumph, tragedy, and struggle. Highlights of FDR: A PRESIDENCY REVEALED (PART ONE) include:

     * Previously unseen home movies from his beloved estate in Hyde Park, New
       York, showing the private side that FDR so fiercely protected, and the
       early memories of his grandson Curtis: "He loved to play games, loved
       to be silly."
     * Historians' views on FDR's New Deal and his first hundred days in
       office, the most prolific and innovative legislative period in the
       nation's history
     * Commentary about his commitment to civil rights, including disapproval
       from his own wife and interviews with modern-day dissenters
     * Excerpts from and background on FDR's famous Fireside Chats, by which
       he developed a bond with the American people that would strengthen over
     * Detailed oral history accounts from Eleanor Roosevelt on the day FDR
       contracted polio and became paralyzed while visiting his summer home on
       Campobello Island in New Brunswick, a source of insecurity and pain the
       rest of his life, and touching first-hand accounts of his fruitless
       struggle to walk again
     * A balanced look at FDR's failures, including a disastrous attempt to
       reconfigure the Supreme Court
     * Details of FDR's flawed relationship with Eleanor, including an affair
       he had in his thirties with Lucy Page Mercer that nearly resulted in
     * An inside look at the most overlooked event in FDR's entire presidency,
       when Arthur Kent, an American working at the U.S. Embassy in England,
       was found to have intercepted months' worth of secret correspondence
       between FDR and Winston Churchill, with the intention of providing the
       information to political enemies in an attempt to expose FDR as a liar
       for promising American neutrality in the fight against Germany
Highlights of FDR: A PRESIDENCY REVEALED (PART TWO) include:
* A first-hand account from cousin, confidante, and caregiver Daisy
       Suckley of FDR's death in Warm Springs, Georgia, just months into his
       fourth term.
     * FDR's struggle to convince the isolationist Congress of the growing
       threat posed by Adolf Hitler
     * The devastating losses of both his mother and his beloved personal
       assistant, Missy LeHand; declining health and the growing threat of
       war; and Curtis Roosevelt's disclosure of the loneliness FDR felt
       during his latter terms
     * Eleanor's audio comments on his strangely detached demeanor in the wake
       of the Pearl Harbor attack
     * An inside look at FDR's bond with Churchill, forged on mutual respect
       and a desire to keep the free world strong
     * Footage from his secret escapes to Hyde Park during the war, in which
       he would relax with friends and mix martinis with a dash of absinthe,
       said by many to be the worst they'd ever tasted
     * Stunning details of FDR's ability to perform his job in the face of
       gravely deteriorating health, including an advanced state of congestive
       heart failure during his third term

FDR: A PRESIDENCY REVEALED uses the recently discovered diary and voice recordings of Suckley, 70 rarely seen photographs, an in-depth oral history recording from Eleanor, and extensive personal interviews with Curtis Roosevelt to cast FDR in a more human light than ever before. Historical perspective is provided by noted biographers Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jon Meacham, as well as historians and authors including William Leuchtenburg, David Kennedy, Craig Wilder, Thomas Fleming, and Robert Dallek. On-location filming at Hyde Park, New York; Warm Springs, Georgia; and Campobello, New Brunswick, combines with extensive color and black-and-white footage of the life and times of FDR to take viewers on a journey back to twentieth-century America's defining time, and inside the life of the man who defined it.

FDR: A PRESIDENCY REVEALED was produced for The History Channel by Team Productions, LLC. Executive producer for The History Channel is Susan Werbe. It's written and produced by David C. Taylor, and narrated by Edward Herrmann.

Now reaching more than 88 million Nielsen subscribers, The History Channel®, “Where the Past Comes Alive®,” brings history to life in a powerful manner and provides an inviting place where people experience history personally and connect their own lives to the great lives and events of the past. In 2004, The History Channel earned five News and Documentary Emmy® Awards and previously received the prestigious Governor's Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the network's “Save Our History®” campaign dedicated to historic preservation and history education. The History Channel web site is located at http://www.History.com.

Source: The History Channel

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