Bernie Sanders was asked "The world has seen many great leaders in history. Can you name two leaders, one American and one foreign, who would influence your foreign policy decisions?"
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the American leader who had influenced him and the foreign leader was Winston Churchill.
“Winston Churchill's politics were not my politics. He was kind of a conservative guy in many respects. But nobody can deny that as a wartime leader, he rallied the British people when they stood virtually alone against the Nazi juggernaut and rallied them and eventually won an extraordinary victory.”
Churchill’s contribution to the war effort cheered by Sanders was to help contribute to the 1943 Bengal famine, which Churchill later callously exacerbated, leading to the fatal starvation of around 3 million people. Churchill exported huge amounts of food from India to Britain and various war theaters, despite being repeatedly warned that continued exhaustion of India’s food supplies would lead to famine. Churchill's government insisted that India continue exporting grain even as Bengal was collapsing into starvation, shipping out 260,000 tons of rice in the fiscal year 1942-'43. Grain imports that could have eased the devastation were diverted elsewhere, to feed Britain and create stockpiles that could be used to feed Europeans in the event they were liberated from Nazi rule. He declined offers of wheat from the United States and Canada, and had Australian ships carrying wheat bypass India and travel straight to Europe.
"I hate Indians," Churchill told his secretary of state for India, Leopold Amery. "They are a beastly people with a beastly religion." Amery accused Churchill of having a "Hitler-like attitude" toward Indians, but Churchill was unmoved. Amery recorded in his diary Churchill saying that “the starvation of anyhow under-fed Bengalis is less serious than sturdy Greeks.” He even seemed to view the catastrophic famine as a reasonable punishment for India's high birthrate, telling his war cabinet that the famine was Indians' own fault for "breeding like rabbits." Approximately 3 million Indians died in the famine.
During World War II, at the same time that he was rallying the British public with the inspirational speeches cited by Senator Sanders, Churchill produced a secret memorandum that made clear his desire to “drench” German cities with poison gas so that “most of the population would be requiring constant medical attention.” “I want the matter studied in cold blood by sensible people and not by the particular set of psalm-singing uniformed defeatists which one runs across,” he explained. Churchill didn’t get his wish, but he did get to play a hand in another World War Two atrocity that would arguably come to be most associated with his name: the carpet bombing of Germany. Churchill’s bombing of German cities, part of the “extraordinary victory” celebrated by Sanders, deliberately made no distinction between combatants and civilians and killed around 400,000 civilians. Dresden has become the most notorious instance of this, though by no means is it the only one. As World War II drew to a close, Britain indiscriminately bombarded the city with more than 4,500 tons of explosives, reducing the city to smoldering rubble and ash and killing between 18-25,000 people. The bombing turned the city streets into bubbling, molten tar and created a fiery vortex that sucked in everything around it.
It was Churchill, more than any other politician, who pushed for the disastrous campaign against the Bolsheviks following the first world war. Taking a large British fleet and 1,600 men as Britain struggled to find the money to rebuild, he attempted to restore the Russian aristocracy to power.
In the 1920s, as the British secretary of state for war, Churchill created the notorious "Black and Tans," in Ireland, a paramilitary militia that he recruited to maintain British control and suppress the Irish nationalists.
In the Middle East Churchill was particularly keen on chemical weapons, suggesting they be used "against recalcitrant Arabs as an experiment". He dismissed objections as "unreasonable". "I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes... to spread a lively terror". On the Palestinian issue in 1937 he had gone on to explain in a little more detail his views on the worth of subject peoples in his submission to the Palestine Commission, arguing:
“I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”
Churchill was particularly keen on chemical weapons, suggesting they be used "against recalcitrant Arabs as an experiment". He dismissed objections as "unreasonable". "I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes... to spread a lively terror"
It was Churchill, more than any other politician, who pushed for the disastrous campaign in favour of the Whites against the Bolsheviks following the great war. Taking a large British fleet and 1,600 men as Britain struggled to find the money to rebuild, he attempted to restore the Russian aristocracy to power
He claimed that the fascism of Benito Mussolini had "rendered a service to the whole world", showing as it had "a way to combat subversive forces" and explained that “If I had been an Italian I am sure I should have been whole-heartedly with you in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism... Italy has provided the necessary antidote to the Russian poison. Hereafter no great nation will be unprovided with an ultimate means of protection against the cancerous growth of Bolshevism.”
He was also an admirer of Hitler "I have always said that if Britain were defeated in a war I hoped we should find a Hitler to lead us back to our rightful position among nations.”
While leading the UK in the 1950s, Churchill was responsible for other crimes. One of these was the CIA- and MI6-engineered coup in Iran, which saw the democratically elected Mohammad Mossadeq overthrown in 1953 after he nationalized British oil holdings in the country. Churchill had approved the plan and later told the main agent in the plot that he “would have loved nothing better than to have served under your command in this great venture.” This was the same coup that Sanders denounced earlier in the debate as an example of how the United States should not act on the world stage.
In the same decade, Churchill also presided over the brutal suppression of the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya, which saw at least 11,000 killed and many thousands more tortured. Rebels, including Obama’s grandfather, were rounded up in concentration camps that make Abu Ghraib look like Disneyworld. Harvard historian Catherine Elkins has described them as "Britain's gulags." Those imprisoned in the camps were subjected to torture, including sexual violence like castration and rape. Records show that Churchill's government was well aware of what was happening but failed to stop it, even as it received reports of detainees being burned alive during interrogations.
Nor should we forget it was Churchill who sent in the troops to break a coal miners strike. During the General Strike Churchill started printing the British Gazette whose sole aim was to print lies about the strike and spread ruling class propaganda. During the General Strike, Churchill was reported to have suggested that machine guns should be used on the striking miners.
Henry Kissinger may have too much blood on his hands to be a friend of Sanders but Churchill’s hands are also very much drenched in blood to be a person to admire which makes many wonder about Sanders and his knowledge of history. Churchill was a war-criminal.