The Claremont Institute, January 13, 2015.
On the night of the tenth of May, 1940, on the eve of the ill-fated Battle of France, Churchill became Prime Minister of Great Britain. As he went to bed, he tells us, at about 3 a.m., he was “conscious of a profound sense of relief. At last I had the authority to give directions over the whole scene. I felt as if I were walking with Destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.” Churchill was 65 years old when, for the first time in his life, he “had the authority to give directions over the whole scene.” He never doubted that, had he possessed such authority in 1915, the Dardanelles strategy could have been successfully executed. Nor did he doubt that, had it been so executed, the First World War could have been brought to a successful conclusion some time either in 1915 or 1916. Had that happened the nations of Europe might have been spared the terrible blood-letting of the last two years of the War, and the main political structures of the nineteenth century dissolved by the War—among them the Russian, German, and Austro-Hungarian monarchies—might have endured far into the twentieth century. Had this happened, Churchill believed, the changes brought in the name of Progress—of Science, of Democracy, and of Equality—might have been less revolutionary, less bloody, and more salutary than any we have in fact known.