Good Essay About Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech
In the aftermath of World War II, the creation of a bipolar world emerged as the Cold War burgeoned. Winston Churchill, the prime minister of England, delivered a seminal speech—originally called “The Sinews of Peace”—that deployed the trope of the Iron curtain which discursively framed the world and dyadic fashion. He delivered the speech on March 5, 1946 in Fulton, Missouri at Westminster College. In this speech, Churchill publically recognized the chasm that developed between the Soviet Union and the United States, two former Allied powers. The Soviet Union possessed far different goals and objectives than their western counterparts—the United States and Britain—which fomented political and geopolitical tensions around the entire globe. The notion of the Iron Curtain emanated from this speech and entered popular lexicon thereafter. Churchill promulgated that he had warned Europe about the dangers that Adolf Hitler posed to the peace and stability of Europe prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. Because no one heeded Churchill’s warnings, an iron curtain had descended over Europe. The principal message Churchill made in this speech was to admonish the world, especially the Americans, about the new realities that defined a post-World War world. Europe had been divided after the war into non-Communist and Communist spheres of influence as a result of where the Allied armies were positioned once the war ceased. This division, according to Churchill, was the iron curtain that threatened to cover and span the globe. Although this trope was not new, Churchill’s use of it in this speech popularized it and infused it into the vernacular in a way that global citizens all understood. Ultimately, Churchill argues that Great Britain and the United States must revive their wartime alliance, or “Special Relationship,” as a potent force that could shape the contours of a postwar global society that preserved the democratic way of life. A resuscitated balance of power would function as a bulwark against Soviet expansionism.
Churchill expounds on this notion of the iron curtain by declaring that the Soviets dominated to the east of this so-called curtain, which was characterized by a lack of civil liberties and freedoms, burgeoning control over the region with Moscow as the central control, and the creation of a police state. Indeed, eastern Europe succumbed to the tight grip of totalitarian regimes that eschewed the liberation that the Allied powers had fought so hard for during World War II t protect. Although Europe had vanquished the Nazis successfully, they now faced a new menacing threat in the Soviet Union. To the west of this curtain were democracies where freedoms were intact and civil liberties protected. For decades, mobility was severely curtailed due to the presence a physical barrier that separated Western and Eastern Europe, both which emerged as their own regions ruled by different governments and in which the denizens experienced disparate living conditions.
Churchill further articulated his anxieties about the possibility and potential of Soviet communism spreading to areas outside of the eastern European regions to countries such as China, France, Turkey, and Greece. Since the war concluded, the Soviets exerted immense efforts to build up their own society while also propping up other communist movements around the globe in the hopes that they eventually embraced communism and facilitate its diffusion worldwide. Churchill refers to communist’s “Fifth Columns” as individuals living in countries aiding the Soviets to ensure that various changes materialize, including Russian spies, agents, and/or members of the Communist party willing to do Stalin’s dirty work. Internal support combined with external interference cultivates the danger and threat of other countries succumbing to Communism.
Churchill ends his eloquent speech describing the grim situation that fomented as a result of Soviet expansion, yet another war was not necessarily on the horizon because the Soviets had publically asserted that they did not want to go to war. Churchill nonetheless opined that the Soviets would try to promote their own interests and expand during peacetime and avoid the vagaries of warfare. By underscoring the threat the Soviets posed to the American way of life, it is unequivocal that Churchill called for the United States, Great Britain, and other western powers to form a united, monolithic front in order to bulwark Soviet plans for world domination—a world that would strip people of their freedoms in order for the Soviet way of live to be sustained. By publically exhibiting a united front and a show of force, Churchill concludes that the Soviets would curtail it expansionistic ventures. Western nations need to forge a common bond based on a democratic way of life and devise a common policy using the United Nations as an instrument to promote peace and democracy around the globe and stalling Soviet expansion.
Churchill addresses an American audience in this speech, and he conveys an underlying sense of trepidation that the United States would revert back to a foreign policy that was historically isolationist like the United States did during the interwar period between the first and second world wars. As a result Churchill makes it abundantly clear that the United States, as the only remaining world super power, must remained involved in global affairs and geopolitics. Maintaining close relationships amongst English-speaking nations has been a theme that has permeated throughout Churchill’s career in local, national, and international politics. Thus, coalition building was promoted in many speeches Churchill delivered amidst this charged political climate and ideological battle between the East and the west. Churchill’s speech reveals his oratorical skills and cognizance of his audience. Rather than expound on the diplomatic fracturing between the United States and the Soviet Union Churchill predominately talked about the United Nations and its future. However, the notion that an iron curtain had fallen over the continent of Europe only months after World War II was shocking and most likely incurred the ire of many western societies in the immediate aftermath. Nonetheless, Churchill’s speech served as a portent of what would happen throughout the Cold War for many decades.
Churchill, Winston. " Winston Churchill Speech - Iron Curtain." The History Place - Great Speeches Collection. March 5, 1946. Accessed April 3, 2015. http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/ironcurtain.htm
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