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A Reply to Tony Blankley

Wednesday, February 8, 2006  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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Tony Blankley’s very compelling essay on the cartooons is available at RealClearPolitics. Blankley’s book, The West’s Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations?, is very well regarded, and Blankley is not the sort of provocateur who is urgently hoping for “the clash of civilizations.” His column concludes:

[T]he mighty American media doesn’t want to think itself spineless. So they close their eyes, rationalize their fear and call it the responsible thing to do.

As Winston Churchill watched the British government sleepwalk to disaster in the 1930s he would sometimes recite:

“Who is in charge of the clattering train? The axles creak and couplings strain, And the pace is hot, and the points are near, And sleep has deadened the driver’s ear; And the signals flash through the night in vain, For Death is in charge of the clattering train.”

As with yesterday’s conversation with Joe Carter, Michael Medved, and Dennis Prager, I read Blankley and react as one might have reacted to a thundering speech against Hitler –delivered in 1942. And including a demand that England go to war with Spain, a fascist state that stayed out of the war.

The war with the jihadists has begun and has been going on for years. Everyone is aware of it, and a majority of Americans are committed to it. After the bombings in Madrid and London and the assisation of Theo van Gogh and the unrest across France in the fall, most of Europe knows as well, and those that don’t won’t be awakened by the scenes of Muslims demonstrating worldwide or even of burning embassies in Syria and Lebanon.

The cartoonists are as helpful to the real war already underway as an anti-Franco front would have been throughout W.W. II. Hitler wanted Franco in; Franco resisted. The allies wanted Franco neutral though they did not care for his regime at all. Franco stayed out.

Here’s one account of Churchill’s actions vis-a-vis Franco:

In a speech in the House of Commons on 24 May 1944, Churchill implicitly defended the negotiations which had taken place with Spain by what seemed to be praise of General Franco. Referring to the dangers from Spain in 1940, he paid tribute to the efforts of Hoare and Arthur Yencken, his able Embassy Counsellor, but indicated that ‘the main credit is undoubtedly due to the Spanish resolve to keep out of the war’. Churchill considered that, during Torch, Spain had made full amends for her earlier acts of assistance to Germany and concluded that ‘as I am here today speaking kindly words about Spain, let me add that I hope she will be a strong influence for the peace of the Mediterranean after the war. Internal political problems in Spain are a matter for the Spaniards themselves.

Churchill’s words certainly sprang from motives other than disinterested admiration for Franco. In the short term, he was trying to neutralize him during the forthcoming Normandy landings. He also had the longer term purpose of sanitizing Franco to be able to use him as a future bulwark of Western Mediterranean policy. At the time, however, there was considerable furore in English and American political circles, and dismay within the anti-Franco opposition. The impact of the speech was intensified by the Madrid propaganda machine which presented it as a full-scale endorsement both of Franco’s foreign policy and of his regime. Spanish newspapers were cruelly jubilant at the chagrin of the Republican exiles who had been looking to the Allies to dispose of Franco after defeating Hitler and Mussolini. On his next visit to the Caudillo, Hoare tried in vain to disabuse him of the idea that Churchill had issued a declaration of unquestioning support for his regime.

Those urging restraint among Western media while defending Western media’s right to ignore that urging are simply and repeatedly making the case that with the war underway, there are no inconsequential actions.

The cartoon front has been a distraction, has not helped our allies in the Muslim world, has provided propaganda to the jihadists, and has increased the difficulty of the mission of our troops deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Those are objective truths. Some are arguing that those costs are offset by the “clarity” provided by the jihadists’ response of teror and threats.

Anyone who needed more clarity will never find it. It is as vain a hope, I suppose, as for responsibility in the Western press durng a time of war.

I will try and search out Tony Blankley for today’s program.

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