Dealing with War – in the eyes of Speeches by Winston Churchill and Tony Blair
War is dreadful at any time although predicaments conceive where only one option is controllably possible. Great Britain is one of those countries that over the centuries have had their fair share of conflicts. Through arrogance or valour, Great Britain has stood up when the enemy has shown its worst and fought for their right to bring a halt to what they were faced with. With regard to these conflicts, there has always been a prominent figure who leads the way, be it as King or Prime Minister. An integral part of these conflicts has been these leaders’ key note speeches that not only endeavour to rouse the government and population but also justify their right for war. For this piece of writing, two of Britain’s recent leaders’ speeches (relatively speaking in their long history) will be discussed; those being Winston Churchill and Tony Blair. Their respective wars were Churchill and World War II (1939-1945) with Germany, and Tony Blair and his war with Saddam Husain’s regime (2003 – not completely finished). The two prime ministerial speeches were made first by Churchill two days into his tenure on his first Commons speech and Tony Blair also in the Commons two days before the invasion of Iraq. The task here is to compare and contrast their respective war speeches while highlighting what makes them imperative.
The primary conspicuous similarity of these leaders was the fact that they were both faced with ruthless opposition; Churchill with Hitler and Blair with Hussein. If Blair and Churchill were the righteous democratic free willed chiefs, the other leaders had to be ones where banishment to the fiery depths was the only option. Equally, Blair and Churchill both refer to their adversaries as ‘tyrants’; men opposed to the rules of law and dignity of the human race. Churchill says Hitler’s regime is a ‘monstrous tyranny’. These words show power over others is what makes a monster and Hitler’s behavior as a human is like a monster when he indulged in his impulse for cruelty and domination. Hitler is like a monstrous minotaur; a guardian of hell seen in Dante’s L’Inferno. Likewise, Blair alludes to the word tyrant when he calls Husain’s leadership a ‘tyrannical regime’. Husain’s regime, Blair says, is a ‘begetter of chaos’. The English public is meant to see this tyrant’s prolonged existence leading to chaos as an abyss where a formless state of the world is to be had. From both British leaders’ statements, people are meant to feel a certain kind loathing for both of the harsh oppressors. Comparably, these two Prime Minister’s adversaries are the lowest form of life where only disfigured ideas will come from them.
Moreover, the darker the picture these two orators portray the more disgust there is for their opponents’ ways. Churchill calls Hitler’s evil days as ‘never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime’. These are grim facts that justify the right to stop this despicable onslaught against human existence. By a similar measure, Blair goes into detail as he attacks the rule of Husain as he expresses his repulsion to ‘the brutality of the repression’ with ‘barbaric prisons’ in the face of ‘pitiless terror’. Blair’s speech has details to justify the severity of the terror while Churchill’s few words hit hard.
In spite of the similarities, these two speeches, coming at a time when decisions had to be made as the public waited in anticipation, do differ. Churchill is the one that becomes the major speaker showing his capability as a rebel rouser.
So, by contrast, Churchill generates more of a powerful speech. His country is at war and he needs to find moral boosting rhetoric to implore everyone to be with him. He uses short phrases to make his delivery work by way of hypophora where he raises a question and immediately answers it. This elevates his rhetoric. He says ‘What is our aim?’ and his answer is ‘Victory’. He also increases this rhetoric by the repetition of the word ‘Victory’ within four subsequent phrases that reinforces his answer on how the war will be won. This is opposed to Blair’s speech as there is the feeling he is opposed to going straight to war as with words ‘we consulted inspectors’, and the resentment to Husain ‘still countries hesitated’. He actually uses some irony as he says ‘our own aim to placate is implacable’. Blair is against a terrible system of terror and wants to stop any form of it although Hussain has been allowed to purport his methods of controlling his country and threatening the world. Blair continually tells us that Husain has had so many warnings saying countries have just been having a ‘diplomatic dance’ with Hussain. Blair is also dissimilar to Churchill in that he will bring on war with Husain but only with the help of allied countries. In contrast, the feeling is that Churchill was declaring his battle against Hitler on his own albeit with help if others were to follow. Blair would inevitably not invade Iraq without help; however, Churchill knew his own mission.
To conclude these two speeches had two leaders at the early stages of war. They differ in many ways, but similarl, show two leaders with forthright ideas and plans for action. Winston Churchill showed his great oratory skills; his concise and succinct style had a quality of putting fire in everyone’s belly to move forward with him. His sound bite skills showed he was more effective than the drawn out dialogue of Tony Blair. Tony Blair’s long speech brought to light that he had so much to consider as to whether he should go to war, and his war decisions were not ultimately all his. This writing has highlighted the comparing and contrasting styles of language from these two British Prime Ministers and shown how they went about getting their message across to their country and the world.
1Minotaur, Circle 7, cantos 12-17, University of Texas at Austin, Retrieved 6July 2011, from: http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/circle7.html
2Dante Alighieri, The Inferno, trans. John Ciardi (Mentor Books: New York, 1954), Canto XII
3 Alliteration, dictionary.com, Retrieved 6 July 2011, from; http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/alliteration
McRae John, Boardman Roy, Reading Between the Lines (Cambridge University Press 1984) Page 31
Blair, Tony (18th March 2003) Full text: Tony Blair Speech. Guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 6 July 2011, from:
Situation: Oversized man, Kevin Smith, thrown off a flight for infringing on another seat.
Question: How would you have handled this situation if you were the Southwest Airline director?
Firstly let’s look at the facts that Mr. Smith originally purchased two tickets for two seats next to each other so he was aware of the policy with regard to oversized people. He was known to purchase two seats as he had done before with the same airline. He decided to fly standby on an earlier flight. The earlier flight had only one seat. He was seated on the earlier flight before ground staff asked him to leave. He flew back on his later flight.
If I were him, my initial thoughts would be to look at both sides of the story. It is not a very nice experience to be taken off any flight but the passenger should be aware of all the evidence in this case. There seems to be a bit of confusion as to whether the passenger mentioned to ground staff on the earlier flight that he usually bought two seats and that he had changed to standby thereby moving his flight to an earlier time. He also boarded the plane aware that he had just one ticket. There are also factors involving the ground staff who should have been aware that his size may have created problems. They should have highlighted that the airline will refuse to transport or remove at any point any passenger where the safety and comfort of other passengers is compromised and who is also unable to sit in the seat with the seat belt fastened and the armrest down. Also, the ticket issuer should have noticed his size and made him aware of the airline policy before issuing his earlier flight.
I refer back again to the passenger’s previous flight where he bought two seats. This complies with Southwest airline policy. He must have known that when changing his flight that there was a very high potential that being a standby flight there would only be a few seats spare. He must have known that there was a fair chance that he would not be able to purchase two seats next to each other on a flight that was fully booked. As with any waiting standby passenger the airline does not really know how many spare seats there will be until the last call for passengers is made at the boarding dock. Mr. Smith must have been aware of this as he waited for his standby flight. Southwest also airlines wonders why he never mentioned in the whole time until he sat in his seat on the flight that he needed two seats and this was how he usually flew on Southwest.
As an airline, we also should share a little of the responsibility as staff should be aware of the company’s clear policy on overweight people. Any passenger who is overweight should be highlighted to the fact that if he or she goes onto the plane and due to their size this person encroaches on the adjacent seat they will be removed from the aircraft. This is the airline’s policy is clear and every individual no matter who they are must follow these rules.
In this situation, the company was right to remove this man and due to the fact he was already booked on a later flight with two seats his travel plans were not harmed. It is a shame this man has used his notoriety to criticize our company but Southwest airline’s seating policy is clear. Southwest airlines need to think of all the passengers being safe and comfortable. Hopefully, this situation has highlighted the company’s policy and made all members of staff aware of the policy and problems that can arise from having to remove people from any aircraft.