Summary (Dictionary of World Biography: The 20th Century)
Sir Winston Churchill was a world figure. With Franklin D. Roosevelt and Josef Stalin, he helped shape the postwar world. Present at Yalta (1945) and other important wartime meetings, he shared Roosevelt’s terrible responsibility in coming to some kind of terms with the victorious Red Army. Although Churchill is remembered for having been a staunch anti-Communist, his treatment of Stalin was inconsistent. He seems to have thought on occasion that he could charm the Soviet leader into taking a moderate, peaceful view of postwar politics. Sometimes Churchill seems to have been cynical in suggesting to Stalin that there was an equitable way of dividing up Europe to the satisfaction of all the wartime allies. In truth, for all of his brilliance, Churchill had a weak hand to play as the representative of a declining empire and perhaps thought that he could make do with guile and with ingratiation.
Churchill’s disappointment over the course of postwar events is readily apparent in his famous Fulton, Missouri, speech (1946), in which he coined the term “Iron Curtain” to describe the brutal way Stalin had cut Eastern and Central Europe off from the “free world.” Churchill’s rhetoric crystallized what many Americans and Western Europeans had not yet articulated, and his view of the menace of postwar Communism came to dominate American foreign policy—especially in the formulation of the “containment” strategy by which American governments...
(The entire section is 385 words.)
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