In the mid-1930s Winston Churchill was a political outsider. This did not stop him from delivering to parliament a series of stunning speeches in which he, nearly alone, warned against Hitler.
In 1936, in consequence of the Nazi build-up, but still three years before Germany invaded Poland, Churchill said this:
Two things, I confess, have staggered me, after a long Parliamentary experience, in these Debates. The first has been the dangers that have so swiftly come upon us in a few years, and have been transforming our position on the whole outlook of the world. Secondly, I have been staggered by the failure of the House of Commons to react effectively against these dangers. That, I am bound to say, I never expected. I never would have believed that we should have been allowed to go on getting into this plight, month by month and year by year….
What, I wonder, would Churchill say now? What, I wonder, would Churchill say about the Russian autocrat, Vladimir Putin, who in the last year and a half has transformed the political and military landscape first in Europe and now in the Middle East – while the West failed “to react effectively against these dangers.”
It is inconceivable to me that he would remain mute. It is inconceivable to me that Churchill would not warn that Putin’s appetite, just like Hitler’s, “may grow with eating.”
What is conceivable to me is that history will repeat itself. What is conceivable to me is that now as before the United States and its allies will be too pusillanimous to preclude in the present a future that is fearsome.