January 22nd, 2013

Yes, Obama said “peace in our time”…

…but it’s not such a big deal, although my saying that may surprise you.

First of all, let me state that I have disagreed, and continue to disagree, in the strongest possible terms with Obama’s actual foreign policy, which can be summarized as “concessions to your enemies, insults to your friends, and naivete (at best) and encouragement (at worst) towards the forces of Islamism in the Middle East.” So there’s that.

Obama did indeed use the famous phrase “peace in our time” in his inaugural speech yesterday [emphasis mine]:

And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice–not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.

One could poke several holes in that, including the fact that sometimes, unfortunately, war is the best way to promote human dignity and justice. But it’s the phrase itself I’m interested in at the moment, and the fact is that, widespread belief notwithstanding, Neville Chamberlain didn’t say it.

What he actually said was, “peace for our time.” For some reason his words have been widely misquoted, but perhaps it is because “peace in our time” is a famous expression that occurs in other contexts:

The phrase echoed Benjamin Disraeli, who upon returning from the Congress of Berlin in 1878 stated “I have returned from Germany with peace in our time.”…[However,] “peace in our time”…had appeared long before in The Book of Common Prayer as “Give peace in our time, O Lord”, probably based on the 7th-century hymn ‘Da pacem Domine! in diebus nostris, Alleluja’.

Perhaps I am giving Obama and his speechmakers way too much credit here, but in the interests of accuracy I have to set the record straight. And along those lines, let’s hear what Chamberlain actually had to say [excerpts from two speeches on the day of his arrival back in Britain; emphasis mine]:

The settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace. This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine. Some of you, perhaps, have already heard what it contains but I would just like to read it to you: ‘ … We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.’…

My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.

If you look at that second quote, you’ll note that Chamberlain was clearly referencing Disraeli’s earlier trip to Germany, after which Disraeli had actually said “peace in our time.”

Unfortunately, in Chamberlain’s time, peace was not to be. Hitler was a different species of crocodile to feed, and the amount of time that was bought by Chamberlain’s concessions was short, and purchased at great price.

[NOTE: It is not as widely remembered that Chamberlain died in 1940, not all that long after these events occurred. His reputation has been the subject of controversy, both pro and con. It’s a complicated story.]

13 Responses to “Yes, Obama said “peace in our time”…”

  1. Ymarsakar Says:

    Well, that’s just an example of mistakes in historical propaganda revisions. Wait until people see the new American history and political philosophy course hundreds of years in the future. Written by the victors.

    But who will the victors be?

  2. George Pal Says:

    We may never have peace in our time but we may rest easy that he has platitudes and bromides up to his Alfred E Newman ears to hold us over and keep us warm.

  3. blert Says:

    All the while Chamberlain was holding up that tissue paper…

    He was expanding the British national defense like crazy.

    The jackass that blew the peace was BALDWIN.

    Everything went south under Chamberlain’s predecessor.

    Churchill fought WWII with Chamberlain’s weapons programs. He, himself, initiated virtually no new weapons programs, at all.

    Chamberlain reminds one of FDR: talking pacifism — while building up a vast navy and air force. From 1937 onwards, both America and Britain expanded their war plant square footage exponentially. They both laid down a new generation of battleships to overawe the Bismark. The British (Chamberlain) were so frantic that they didn’t even wait one-year for larger (16″) rifles for the King George class battleships.

    It is Baldwin that ought to get all of the scorn. Instead, there is nary a peep from historians. One might think that Chamberlain stood blinded to Hitler — like a complete idiot.

    As for the Munich Conference: Chamberlain really did delay the initiation of hostilities. Unfortunately for humanity, it would’ve been better if the German Army had actually tried to invade at that time. It would’ve been a Nazi fiasco enough to depose the dictator.

    In 1938 there would’ve been no Soviet crude oil. The German Army was not even remotely ready for a mountain campaign. What few tanks they had would’ve died in the mountains.

    The whole matter has been grossly perverted by historians.

  4. Bilwick Says:

    I didn’t watch the speech because listening to the Pontificator-in-Chief makes me nauseous. But I am curious: how many times did he do the Mussolini chin-tilt? When he talked about “collective action” would have been a good time for it.

  5. Artfldgr Says:

    I have just been informed by a former senior military leader that Obama is using a new “litmus test” in determining who will stay and who must go in his military leaders. Get ready to explode folks. “The new litmus test of leadership in the military is if they will fire on US citizens or not”. Those who will not are being removed.
    – Dr. Jim Garrow – January 21, 2013

    such a litmus test started a long while back…
    (i think it was the air force first if i remember)

    i said so, but people argued otherwise.
    now its more public that such a deciding factor in military careers is whether your willing to follow orders without any thought.

    note that this is something that made our military quite unique, the ability to disobey unlawful or illegal orders…

    maybe thats why various domestic departments bought more ammo than is used by our military, and by several times more..

  6. Artfldgr Says:

    oh.. as an aside, the wsj, national review, and a few others have articles where they cant believe that what the health care law is doing, is something that was planned, and so all this is poor planning.

    no. its doing what those who opposed it said it would do, and now adjunct professors (about 70% of academia), are finding their hours cut to under 30, and salaries cut, and now have no health insurance…

    of course, they still dont ‘get’ it…
    that what is happening is planned…
    and they were a key part in the plan
    without them, the lie would never have gotten up, let alone walked through the supreme court

  7. Artfldgr Says:

    Egypt will still get the F16s… Weapons that went to Syria, failed to get into the hands of rebels. lots of commentary worldwide trying to figure out what is going on and why and how explanations given fit, etc.

    Lawmakers question gift of 20 F-16s to Morsi’s Egypt
    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/12/11/lawmakers-question-gift-20-f-16s-to-morsi-egypt/

    Under ideas of “jus in bello” are they evening the odds between these states and Israel? They seem to have been quite clear on their idea of “Jus ad bellum” with some even twisting the star of david into a swastika.


    and just to make things fun, the japans and china are getting really really hot… as i said they would given the way Obama winds blow.

    Japan Threatens To Fire On Chinese Fighters — China Says ‘There Will Be No Second Shot’


    China also announced its army aviation unit of attack helicopters will shift from a logistics mission in preparation for combat.

    China’s Buying A Fleet Of Russian Bombers Perfect For Taking On The US Navy

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/china-buys-tu-22m3-david-cenciotti-the-aviationist-2013-1

    China’s Buying A Fleet Of Russian Bombers Perfect For Taking On The US Navy

    Russia has agreed to sell Beijing the production line for the Tupolev Tu-22M3 bomber at a cost of $1.5 billion.

    The deal struck with Russia includes 36 aircraft: a batch of 12 followed by a second batch of 24 additional bombers.

    The Tu-22 will be employed in the maritime attack role and used to attack targets from low levels to avoid radar detection.

    cute… ya gotta love it…
    coming along with the conflict with japan, Taiwan, Singapore, etc… this is going to get even more interesting soon.

    oh… dont think thats the only conflict they are pushing!

    The report also revealed that some 1,000 civilians and 6,000 Chinese troops are stationed as “permanent residents” in Sansha City, established in June last year as a Hainan prefecture to exercise administrative powers over all of the Spratlys islands……..
    The city sits in the Paracels, also a disputed island chain being claimed by Taipei and Vietnam. While the Philippines has no claim to the islands, the DFA has a standing protest to Sansha’s establishment as its jurisdiction covers Philippine-claimed parts of the Spratlys.

    China is holding wargames there now…


    a interesting thing is Russia is about to implement a anti gay federal law….

    They sure don’t want the mental disease they induced in the western peoples with the help of leftists, socialists, outright communists, feminists, academia and progressives to come back and bite them.

    Russia pushes forward with controversial anti-gay legislation that would outlaw ‘homosexual propaganda’

    Obama Addresses LGBT Community, Gay Marriage During Inaugural Speech

    i guess on the bright side, one cable channel is starting a new cold war action series about spies…
    bet ya cant wait to hear the plot.. 🙂

  8. rickl Says:

    The real howler in his speech was: “A decade of war is now ending.” O rly?

  9. Mr. Frank Says:

    A well educated politician or staff would have caught and deleted that peace in our time phrase. That raises all sorts of questions.

  10. scottthebadger Says:

    I concour with Blert, Mr. Chamberlain knew he was buying time for the Spitfire and Escort production to start and to ramp up. The man has not been treated fairly by history. Baldwin’s policy for defence was to assume every year at budget time that there would not be a war for at leat 10 years. Not a good recipie for survival by the mid thirties.

  11. Bob from Virginia Says:

    Ymaraskar and Scottthebadger, I feel you are giving Chamberlain too free a pass, as I did before reading details in On Borrowed Time by Leonard Mosley. Britain was indeed unprepared for war but that was just part of the story. France, Britain and the Soviet Union could have handled Hitler in 1938. Chamberlain’s misjudgements, duplicity, respect for Hitler, hatred of communism and genuine lack of character encouraged Nazi aggression and allied weakness.

  12. Paul A'Barge Says:

    It’s a complicated story

    Oh, I don’t know. The last time I walked across the bridge over the shoes at the Holocaust Museum in Wash DC I didn’t find it very complicated.

    But then perhaps I’m just a simpleton at heart.

  13. Ymarsakar Says:

    Even without CHamberlain, the West had the military power, but didn’t have the will. They were still suffering from the powers that be, the ones that survived by suicide charging those with real courage into the front, lacking a spine. All the people that had spines, were either killed in WW1 by the same people that ordered them to charge to their deaths, while staying safe and shiny, or were rendered impotent due to disillusionment with Western values (that they think caused WWI).

    There’s a reason why so many countries rounded up their Jewish population and gave them to Hitler. Those that survived WWI by feeding other people into the fire, won’t hesitate to do it again once they have the power to decide policy.

    I don’t focus too much on leadership. Since a people deserves their leaders, not the other way around. After WWII was won, the British people kicked Churchill out of power. Good bye. Athens executed or imprisoned their best leaders, warriors, and philosophers because some internal political faction wanted power. Europe was already on their last dying days before WWII. Chamberlain was perhaps the best leader they could get at the time.

    Even in our modern day, Obama wouldn’t be in power if the US hadn’t become so corrupt and weak.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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