When Obama moved into the White House in 2009 one of the first things he did was ship the bust of Former Prime Minister Winston Churchill back to Great Britain. It cluttered up his Oval Office.
The Churchill bust was a gift from Tony Blair. (All Voices)
But, that didn’t stop Barack Obama from quoting Churchill today in his speech to the British Parliament.
Obama closes with a Churchill quote: “In the long years to come, not only will the people of this island but of the world, wherever the bird of freedom chirps in human hearts, look back to what we’ve done, and they will say ‘do not despair, do not yield…march straightforward.’”
Obama finally found a use for Churchill.
More… He didn’t quote CHurchill once. He quoted him 5 times.
As Winston Churchill said, the “…Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.”
Indeed, our efforts in this young century have led us to a new concept for NATO that will give us the capabilities needed to meet new threats: terrorism and piracy, cyber attacks and ballistic missiles. But a revitalized NATO will continue to hew to that original vision of its founders, allowing us to rally collective action for the defense of our people, while building upon the broader belief of Roosevelt and Churchill that all nations have both rights and responsibilities, and share a common interest in an international architecture that keeps the peace.
That is what forged our bond in the fire of war — a bond made manifest by the friendship between two of our greatest leaders. Churchill and Roosevelt had their differences. They were keen observers of each other’s blind spots and shortcomings, if not always their own, and they were hard-headed about their ability to remake the world.
This conviction lives on in their people today. The challenges we face are great. The work before us is hard. But we have come through a difficult decade, and whenever the tests and trials ahead seem too big or too many, let us turn to their example, and the words that Churchill spoke on the day that Europe was freed:
“In the long years to come, not only will the people of this island but of the world, wherever the bird of freedom chirps in human hearts, look back to what we’ve done, and they will say ‘do not despair, do not yield…march straightforward’”
This doesn’t mean we can afford to stand still. The nature of our leadership will need to change with the times. As I said the first time I came to London as President, the days are gone when Roosevelt and Churchill could sit in a room and solve the world’s problems over a glass of brandy — though I’m sure Prime Minister Cameron would agree that some days we could both use a stiff drink. In this century, our joint leadership will require building new partnerships, adapting to new circumstances, and remaking ourselves to meet the demands of a new era.