Men of Might

There are more than a few instances when history has given us a fragmentary version of the people and their nature. Like in the previous article Genius and Madness, the success or failure of a leader’s plans tend to make an impact, a grave one at that, on his so called “image” that is portrayed to the generations that follow. It turns out, in the face of success shrewd nature, selfish motives, unjust behavior and other vices can be overlooked. This peculiar nature of History dates way back-begins with the Mahabharata and is carried down till date.

Let’s take a more recent example. Winston Churchill. The inspirational leader, an outstanding orator, the man who led the British Armies in times of need and got them back on the shore safely after the storms of the World War. There is no doubt that Winston Churchill was a class above normal human men when it came to his skills, be it politics or public speaking. But, there is a side of him that remains ignored.

He is on par with Adolf Hitler in the atrocities committed and easily makes it to a list of Top Ten worst military decisions ever taken. To begin with, he was a racist. He believed in employing tear gas against, putting it in his words, “uncivilized tribes”. He also preached that the Jews have forsaken the faith of their fathers and well, did not really consider them to be a dignified race of their own.

He was a great egoist and an extremely shrewd politician. He let the Covetry Cathedral burn just to protect his secret intelligence. It was in his reign that India saw the death 3 million of its own people. The emergency food shipments were used up by Churchill to build stockpiles for his men who would return tired from war.

He enjoyed stiff drinks and it is believed that he had one too many when he made the decision of invading Gallipolli. It was a perfect plan in theory but, the heat of the place, the lack of naval artillery support led to the loss of thousands of lives on both sides. The Allied forces were trapped for more than a month when they attacked what Churchill called “the soft underbelly of the central powers”.

Despite all this, there are qualities in this man one can admire and stop our admiration at that quality. Admiring men as a whole always tends to make room to overlook their flaws, defend their blunders and magnify their victories.

Though serious (and ruggedly handsome) he is in most of his recorded pictures, Churchill had a sense of humor. Probably a nice way to end an article pointing to his imperfections.

Lady Astor: “If you were my husband, I’d put arsenic in your coffee.”

Churchill: “Madam, if I were your husband, I’d drink it!”

 

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