Bret Stephen’s op-ed on Biden’s October 10 speech, and my comment on overly facile comparisons with Winston Churchill

1) Bret Stephens, “President Biden’s Finest Hour,” New York Times, October 17, 2023;

2) The White House, “Remarks by President Biden on the Terrorist Attacks in Israel,” October 10, 2023;

COMMENT on Bret Steven’s article:

James Rowles
Tracy, CA
8h ago
Let’s not get carried sway with overly facile references to Winston Churchill.

On June 18, 1940, after Dunkirk and the capitulation of France, looking forward to the immense challenges facing Britain including the possibility of a German invasion, Churchill closed his famous speech to the House of Commons with the following words:

“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth[e] last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.'”

There is nothing remotely comparable between Biden’s actions and Churchill’s.

We can hope that Biden becomes more Churchillian, standing up not only to Hamas but also to Russia in Ukraine, but let’s be measured in our praise.

That said, Biden’s counsel to Israel of restraint, and his travel to Israel tomorrow, do suggest the possibility of stronger leadership by him in the future than we have seen in the past.

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.

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