An exercise in justification and persuasion. During his interview on “8 p.m.” on TF1 and France 2, Emmanuel Macron tried to clarify his line of support for Ukraine, a week after having mentioned a possible sending of Western soldiers to the Ukrainian front. “We will never lead an offensive, we will never take the initiative,” he clarified, assuring that “France is a force for peace.” A little further, the French president nevertheless urged Europeans not to give up in the face of Russia. “To have peace in Ukraine, we must not be weak […], we must say that we are ready to achieve the means to achieve our goal, which is that Russia does not win. […]. Peace is not the capitulation of Ukraine. To summarize this complex position, halfway between war and peace, the Head of State adopted a formula from the illustrious British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. “You must have, to use an old expression from Churchill, the nerve of peace,” he quoted. Wanting peace is not choosing defeat, it is not letting Ukraine down.”

The reference was not chosen at random. “The sinews of peace”, a reverse allusion to the expression “the sinews of war”, is the name given by Churchill to one of his most famous speeches, delivered in Fulton (United States) on March 5 1946. In this speech, Churchill, who is no longer prime minister but still enjoys considerable influence on the world stage, foresees the “cold war” which will divide the United States and the USSR in the decades to come . Like Emmanuel Macron, the Old Lion develops a seemingly paradoxical reflection: on the one hand, he recalls the importance of safeguarding the peace which has just been won after the Second World War; on the other hand, it casts opprobrium on one of the three allied powers, the USSR, which “only respects force”. “A shadow has fallen on the scenes which had been so clearly illuminated recently by the victory of the Allies,” he denounces, in reference to the Stalinist regime.

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It is in this historic speech that the expression “iron curtain” was born, by which Churchill intended to warn the West against the expansionist desires of the Soviets. “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain descended across the continent. Behind this line are all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them are in what I must call the Soviet sphere. The former warlord ends his speech by calling on “English-speaking peoples to urgently unite to remove any temptation to ambition or adventure.” And this, to safeguard the fragile balance born in the aftermath of the Second World War, “to ensure that what was won at the cost of so much sacrifice and suffering is preserved for the future glory and security of humanity “.

Churchill’s warnings did not fall on deaf ears: almost a year to the day after Fulton’s speech, United States President Harry S. Truman proclaimed his policy of containment of communism. At a time when a new war is being fought at the gates of Europe, will Emmanuel Macron’s words have as much effect on the international sphere as those of the Old Lion? In any case, this is not the first time that the French president has hinted at the deep admiration he has for the British prime minister from 1940 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1955. In 2020, during the commemoration of the appeal on June 18 in London, Emmanuel Macron paid a vibrant tribute to Winston Churchill, who according to him “personified” “the tenacity of a nation which refused to give in and which did not give in” to German oppression. In an article published a few days ago on the news site The Local, relayed by Courrier International, the British press compared the attitude of the French head of state to that held by the English Prime Minister at the dawn of the Second World War…