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Colloque à Moscou sur la nouvelle guerre froide

Date de publication: 16.03.2016

Winston Churchill à Fulton (Missouri, Etats-Unis) le 5 mars 1946

Le colloque a eu lieu à MGIMO, l'Institut d'Etat des Relations Internationales à Moscou.  Sont intervenus dans le colloque: 

Le recteur de MGIMO, Anatoly Torkounov;

Adam Rotfeld, ancien ministre polonais des affaires étrangères;

Slavenko Terzic, historien, membre de l'Académie serbe des sciences, ambassadeur de la Serbvie auprès de la Fédération de Russie;

Anatoliy Karpov, ancien champion mondial d'échecs, président de l'Association mondiale des Fondations pour la Paix;

Alexandre Tchoubarian, directeur de l'Institut de l'histoire universelle à l'Académie russe des sciences;

Valentin Faline, ancien ambassadeur soviétique auprès de la République fédéral d'Allemagne;

Ivan Blot, ancien député et ancien député européen;

Alexander Rahr, spécialiste allemand de la Russie;

Xavier Moreau, politologue;

Peter Kuznick, professeur à l'American University (Washington DC);

et John Laughland, Directeur des Etudes de l'IDC.

Voici le texte de l'intervention de John Laughland (en anglais):



John Laughland


"Fulton speech or Schuman declaration?  On the origins of the Cold War and its persistence today."


Speech at international conference on "The persistence of the Cold War and the current international situation.  On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Winston Churchill's Fulton speech."


Moscow, 16 March 2016



There are several important points to be made about the speech Winston Churchill delivered at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri on 5 March 1946. 

The first is that the phrase "the iron curtain" was not Churchill's invention.  It had, on the contrary, been invented by the Nazis and had been used two or three times as part of their anti-Bolshevik propaganda.  An article in Das Reich of 18 February 1945 and entitled Hinter dem eisernen Vorhang used the phrase to attack the Yalta agreement; Goebbels used it a week later for the same purpose.[1] The phrase was used one last time by Count Schwerin von Krosigk, foreign minister of the ephemeral "Flensburg government" under Admiral Dönitz whom Hitler had appointed precisely to embody a future pro-Western orientation of Nazi Germany in an attempt to seek a separate peace with the Western allies with a view to continuing the war against the USSR. 

The second point is that the Fulton speech, in spite of the phrase "iron curtain" which was to have such a huge influence, cannot really be read as a declaration of the Cold War.  On the contrary, the speech is entitled "The Sinews of Peace" and it is full of pro-Russian sentiments.  Churchill expressed his admiration for Stalin and for the alliance with Russia during the war and he insisted that in the post-war system which was the subject of his speech, Russia be fully integrated into the newly created world system.

I have a strong admiration and regard for the valiant Russian people and for my wartime comrade, Marshal Stalin. There is deep sympathy and goodwill in Britain - and I doubt not here also - towards the peoples of all the Russias and a resolve to persevere through many differences and rebuffs in establishing lasting friendships. We understand the Russian need to be secure on her western frontiers by the removal of all possibility of German aggression. We welcome Russia to her rightful place among the leading nations of the world. We welcome her flag upon the seas. Above all, we welcome constant, frequent and growing contacts between the Russian people and our own people on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Third, in the speech, Churchill denounces Communism in Western Europe just as much as he denounces it in the East.  Churchill specifically mentions the Communist danger in Italy and "a great number of countries".  So while the phrase "iron curtain" was certainly intended to attack Soviet support for Communism in Eastern Europe, Churchill did not see Communism as only a geopolitical danger, and not just in East-West terms, but instead as a universal one.

Fourth, and above all, Churchill's goal in this speech was to argue in favour of international cooperation through, and under the aegis of, the newly created United Nations.  The speech is a passionate plea to avoid international confrontation.  Churchill specifically ruled out the system of competing blocs when he argued against the "old doctrine of a balance of power" and warned against "offering temptations to a trial of strength" which, he implied, the USSR would be only too ready to engage in.  Instead, he insisted that the world must work together under the terms of the UN Charter. Sensing that the Cold War was imminent, Churchill said that new outbreaks of war could be prevented only

by reaching now, in 1946, a good understanding on all points with Russia under the general authority of the United Nations Organisation and by the maintenance of that good understanding through many peaceful years, by the world instrument, supported by the whole strength of the English-speaking world and all its connections. There is the solution which I respectfully offer to you in this Address to which I have given the title 'The Sinews of Peace.'

In other words, when he coined the phrase "special relationship" between the United States and the British Empire in the Fulton speech - a phrase which later became the backbone of the Cold War mentality - he used it to argue that alliances between UN member states would strengthen the new world organisation, not weaken it.  He specifically said, "We British have our twenty years Treaty of Collaboration and Mutual Assistance with Soviet Russia. I agree with Mr. Bevin, the Foreign Secretary of Great Britain, that it might well be a fifty years Treaty so far as we are concerned."[2]

The development of the international system in the subsequent four years, 1946 - 1950, when the Cold War really did break out, make Churchill's thinking even clearer.  A few months after the Fulton speech, in September 1946, Churchill delivered a second seminal speech, at Zurich. In this speech, he used another phrase which was to become famous when he called for the creation of "a kind of United States of Europe".  But like the "iron curtain", this phrase was subsequently given a different meaning from the one Churchill intended, and the meaning was specifically changed to fit into the imperatives of the new international confrontation. 

We know what Churchill meant by "a kind of United States of Europe" because he implemented it when he chaired and dominated the Hague Congress in May 1948.  This huge congress led to the creation of the Council of Europe the following year.  Yet in spite of the fact that it was attended by 750 delegates, and addressed by Churchill himself, Konrad Adenauer, three former French Prime Ministers, and the future French president, François Mitterrand, who was then a minister, the Hague Congress is today largely forgotten. This is because Churchill's vision of European unity, and of the future architecture of the international system, did not coincide with the views of those European federalists who, acting with overt and covert American support, announced the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community on 9 May 1950 with the now famous "Schuman Declaration".  This simple press conference, at which Schuman read out a text and then left the room without taking any questions, is put forward by the official history of European integration as its founding moment.  Its anniversary, 9 May, is the official "Europe Day" of the EU.  The Schuman declaration, a classic example of executive fiat, and sprung upon an unsuspecting public opinion with no advance warning, is a good symbol of the authoritarian and bureaucratic EU of which it is the foundation-stone.

At The Hague Congress, unionists, supported by Churchill, who favoured inter-governmental cooperation, defeated the federalists who wanted to create a European bloc.  These federalists were therefore deeply disappointed by its outcome.[3] They resolved to attain their goals by creating a new structure without the anti-federalist British (even though the UK was the biggest producer of coal and steel at the time). [4]  They therefore concocted a secret plan, almost certainly in collaboration with the Americans, of which the Schuman declaration was the totally unexpected announcement. The Treaty of Paris of 1951, which created the federalist ECSC, can be seen as the response to the Treaty of London of 1949 which created the inter-governmental Council of Europe. 

The American support for this plan to sideline the British and create a European bloc was crucial. In the autumn of 1948, i.e. a few months after the conclusion of The Hague Congress, the future Director of the CIA, Allen Dulles, created the American Committee on United Europe.  This officially not-for-profit organisation was stuffed full of senior secret servicemen.  Its head was Bill Donovan, the wartime director of the OSS, the precursor of the CIA; other members included the executive director, Thomas W. Braden, who had served in the OSS and who would join the CIA in 1950, and Walter Bedell Smith who would become Director of the CIA on 7 October 1950. 

Over the coming decade, this ACUE would channel millions of dollars into the federalist European groups, above all the European Movement whose predecessor Churchill had founded but which was soon to escape his control as a result. This financial support was absolutely decisive in the very first years of the European construction because it was only thanks to injections of cash from America in 1949 and 1950 that the European Movement was saved from financial collapse.[5]  The European Movement was, to that extent, a classic bogus NGO of the kind that has sprung up all over Central and Eastern Europe in the last 25 years: a front organisation for American interests.

Two months after the Schuman declaration, the first President of the European Movement, Duncan Sandys, Churchill's son-in-law, was evicted from his position because of his opposition to federalism and replaced instead by Paul-Henri Spaak.  The Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Joseph Retinger, told Sandys to go because "our American friends do not agree with your tactics."[6] And in the words of Thomas Braden, the US intelligence officer who was executive director of the ACUE, one of the tasks of Spaak's new secretariat was to generate support for federalism through "the initiation of major propaganda campaigns in all European countries."[7]

The political purpose the Americans were pursuing was precisely the opposite of that which Churchill had advocated in Fulton in 1946.  They wanted to create a bloc, and they did not think that the Council of Europe was federalist or bloc-like enough.  So following the creation of NATO on 4 April 1949, the creation of the Council of Europe on 5 May 1949, and the division of Germany through the unilateral creation of the Federal Republic on 23 May 1949, the Americans set about creating a federal union in Europe so that blocs would emerge: a system of confrontation and not one of collaboration.

The newly created European structure was not only specifically federalist; it was also intended to evolve rapidly into an anti-Soviet military structure.  If the ECSC was the way to reconcile France to the idea of rearming the new West Germany only five years after the end of the war, the European Defence Community was proposed only a few months after the Schuman Declaration.  The Korean war had broken out in June and the Americans were determined to create a politically united military bloc in Europe to forestall a Korean scenario in Europe.  Dean Acheson, who had consulted with Robert Schuman the day before the Schuman Declaration was made, on 8 May 1950, said at a NATO meeting in New York in September 1950 that he wanted to see the Germans in uniform the following year.[8]  He forced the Europeans' hand.  Adopted on 8 October 1950, the Pleven plan outlining the plan for a European army was announced later that month.[9]  But the idea of European federalism had been energetically advanced also John Foster Dulles from at least 1941.  His brother, Allen, was I have said, was to help put these ideas into action.

The European Defence Community was rejected by an alliance of Gaullists and Communists voting together in the French National Assembly in 1954.  It is therefore now largely forgotten.  But the six founder member states of the European Coal and Steel Community continued to advance towards federalism by creating the European Economic Community in 1957.

These historical reflections are important because the federalist DNA planted in the original ECSC has never left the EU structures, which are today centralised by the single currency and by a common foreign and defence policy.  Very often, Russia serves and a geopolitical and ideological enemy precisely to drive forward European integration: one of the arguments being deployed in Britain today, in the campaign for the 23 June referendum, is that the evil Mr Putin desires the break-up of Europe and that Britain would be weaker without is so-called protection from him.  And as I have argued before, the decision to create the single currency in 1991 was taken with a specifically geopolitical goal, namely that of pressing home the advantage which had arisen as a result of the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact to create instead a new hegemonic force to control Central and Eastern Europe.  The idea to make the EU into a centre of gravity for the whole continent was conceived in the Federal Chancellery in Bonn as soon as Mikhail Gorbachev told Helmut Kohl in June 1989 that the USSR was prepared to accept the re-unification of Germany. [10]

The cause of the new Cold War which has broken out in Europe lie largely in the fact that the two Brussels-based institutions which were created to fight the Cold War, NATO and the European Union, were not dissolved when the Warsaw Pact and COMECON were dissolved in 1991.  Instead, they were strengthened.  So if we are looking for the origins of the Cold War, and for the reasons for its persistence, we should look not so much at Churchill's Fulton speech of 1946 but instead at the Robert Schuman's Declaration of 9 May 1950, the so-called founding act of the European Union.


[1] "Nicht Churchill prägte den Begriff „Eiserner Vorhang“" by Rainer BLASIUS, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 19 February 2015.  Blasius shows that the first article in Das Reich was written by a businessman based in Lisbon called Max Walter Clauss ... who after the war wrote a book about Yalta and  was an occasional contributor to the FAZ!

[2] "Would a special relationship between the United States and the British Commonwealth be inconsistent with our over-riding loyalties to the World Organisation? I reply that, on the contrary, it is probably the only means by which that organisation will achieve its full stature and strength. There are already the special United States relations with Canada which I have just mentioned, and there are the special relations between the United States and the South American Republics. We British have our twenty years Treaty of Collaboration and Mutual Assistance with Soviet Russia. I agree with Mr. Bevin, the Foreign Secretary of Great Britain, that it might well be a fifty years Treaty so far as we are concerned. We aim at nothing but mutual assistance and collaboration. The British have an alliance with Portugal unbroken since 1384, and which produced fruitful results at critical moments in the late war. None of these clash with the general interest of a world agreement, or a world organisation; on the contrary they help it. "In my father's house are many mansions." Special associations between members of the United Nations which have no aggressive point against any other country, which harbour no design incompatible with the Charter of the United Nations, far from being harmful, are beneficial and, as I believe, indispensable." 

[3] Christophe REVEILLARD, Les premières tentatives de construction d'une Europe fédérale des projets de la Résistance au traité de C.E.D. (1940 - 1954) (Paris: François-Xavier de Guibert, 2001) pp. 94 - 96.

[4] REVEILLARD, p. 188 and passim.

[5] Richard J. ALDRICH, OSS, CIA and European Unity: the American Committee on United Europe, 1948 - 1960, Diplomacy & Statecraft, Vol. 8, No. 1 (March 1997),  p. 194, p. 195-6.

[6] Letter from Retinger to Sandys, 31 March 1950, quoted in Aldrich p. 197.

[7] Confidential memorandum from Thomas Braden to Walter Bedell Smith, 27 June 1950, quoted in Aldrich p.198.  General Bedell Smith was Director of the CIA from 1950 to 1953.

[8] Élisabeth du Réau, L'idée européenne au xxe siècle : Des mythes aux réalités, 2008


[10] Michael Mertes & Norbert Prill, Das verhängnisvolle Irrtum eines Entweder-Oder: eine Vision für Europa, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 18 July 1989.




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