Two Speeches at Fulton, 71 Years Apart

by James M. Wall

Bernie Sanders went to Westminster College, in Fulton, Missouri, Thursday, and delivered a policy speech in the same academic setting that brought former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, to Fulton, 71 years ago, March 5, 1946.

Churchill’s historic “Iron Curtain” speech. is seen as the opening salvo in the Cold War. This week, Bernie Sanders had a different focus.

The 2016 Democratic primary candidate who opposed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, came to Fulton to lay out a U.S. foreign policy not for war but for peace and equality. 

The Nation magazine editors commented:

[Sanders] reminds us that hundreds of millions live in poverty, dying of preventable diseases, while arms makers rake in trillions from weapons of war. He reminds us that America’s history of interventions—from Iran to Chile to right now in Yemen—have a habit of having devastating results.  ​​

It was a different time when Churchill spoke in 1946. The U.S., Great Britain and its allies had just emerged victorious from World War II.  The Soviet Union, the U.S. and Great Britain were pawing the ground like two bull moose eager to fight.

The Churchill speech March 5, 1946, is remembered by historians as “one of the most famous orations of the Cold War period”.  In his famous oratorical style, the former Prime Minister etched these words into history:

 “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”

It was a call to a war-oriented future.

In his speech at Westminster College, Senator Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, drew  “a direct link between the United States’ foreign policy and his own longstanding message of economic equality”.

He stressed that “the planet will not be secure or peaceful when so few have so much and so many have so little.”

Foreign policy must take into account the outrageous income and wealth inequality that exists globally and in our own country. There is no moral or economic justification for the six wealthiest people in the world having as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population, 3.7 billion people.

Churchill was bellicose; Sanders pleaded for equality. One pointed to future wars; the other called for peace.  

Jason Hancock wrote in the Kansas City Star:

The goal of Sanders’ speech was to lay out a progressive vision for foreign policy that focuses on international collaboration, humanitarian concerns and the promotion of democracy. The key must be building partnerships, he concluded, not just between governments, but between people.

“Our safety and welfare is bound up in the safety and welfare of people throughout the world,” he said. “Every person on this planet shares a common humanity. … Our job is to build on that common humanity and do everything we can to oppose the forces who try to divide us up and set us against each other.”

Far too often, the use of American military power has resulted in incalculable harm, Sanders said, pointing specifically at the war in Iraq. America must not recede from the world stage, Sanders said, but it must rethink its priorities.

“The goal is not for the United States to dominate the world. Nor is our goal to withdraw from the international community and shirk our responsibilities under the banner of ‘America first.’ Our goal should be global engagement based on partnership rather than dominance,” he said.

Aware that he was speaking from the site of Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech, Sanders said:

The United States’ actions during the Cold War in supporting “murderous regimes” around the world continue to make the nation less safe. Fast forward to the Iraq War, which Sanders said was a huge mistake, and he said it’s clear that U.S. aggression helped create Islamic State and other threats that are still bedeviling the nation.

Even today, Sanders said, America’s support of “Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen” dramatically undermines “America’s ability to advance a human rights agenda around the world.”

That also means the United States cannot only preach its values, he said. It must live its values.

“If we’re going to expound the virtues of freedom and democracy abroad, we need to practice those values here at home,” Sanders said. “That means continuing the struggle to end racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia in the United States.”

How good was the speech? Fox did not like it. Not surprising.

John Nichols, in The Nation, called it one of Sanders’ finest speeches. Nichols wrote: “Borrowing from the wisdom of great American legislators such as Wisconsin’s Robert M. La Follette, Nebraska’s George Norris, and California’s Barbara Lee, Sanders spoke for the view that America leads best when it leads as an advocate for peace and justice rather than as a bully”:

It was 71 years after Winston Churchill’s speech that Sanders said:

The goal is not for the United States to dominate the world. Nor, on the other hand, is our goal to withdraw from the international community and shirk our responsibilities under the banner of “America First.”

Our goal should be global engagement based on partnership, rather than dominance. This is better for our security, better for global stability, and better for facilitating the international cooperation necessary to meet shared challenges.

Do I hear an amen on that?

The picture above is a screen shot from Westminster College

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
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13 Responses to Two Speeches at Fulton, 71 Years Apart

  1. Rosette M. Bagley says:


  2. Patricia says:

    Sanders left out ISRAEL when referring to violations of human rights, but then US human rights at home is poor for its own people. The partnership with ISRAEL has not been good for human rights and peace. May the dialogue begin and wars stop.

  3. oldkahuna says:


  4. Jim Eby says:

    Amen and Amen!

  5. frank scott says:

    In his famous oratorical style, the former Prime Minister etched these words into history:

    “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”
    unfortunately they had already been etched by a nazi, at least the market-catchy “iron curtain” part.

  6. Dorsey Gardner says:

    Bernie is a kibbutznik. His loyalties are to Israel. He makes a few noises about
    the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, but he is fully behind the Zionist project. He is against BDS. Never had a job in the private sector in his life.
    His wife Jane is under investigation for falsifying financial information for a college that
    went broke.
    Bernie has never voted against sending American taxpayer money to Israel. He just voted to send $38 billion to Israel to use to ethnic cleanse the Palestinians.
    We don’t need Bernie!

  7. Janan Assaly says:

    Bernie the best of the lot, or Tulsi from Hawaii. What else is on tap?

  8. Pauline Coffman says:

    Bernie for President! AMEN.

  9. AWAD SIFRI says:

    I agree totally with Bernie’s call for an America that leads for peace, democracy, and for bonding among nations. I missed hearing the word, “Justice”, in conjunction with “peace”.
    I would like to probe further as to where he stands versus Israeli occupation of Palestine, Israeli apartheid, Israel’s monopoly of nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, among other issues.
    Most importantly, I would like to hear more about practical, peaceful strategies and methods of how to dismantle the political structure in our country that allows “Big Money” and Lobby system to virtually appoint our politicians, from Congress to President.
    I hope to hear more on that as we approach the next elections.

  10. Janan Assaly says:

    It’s never too early in American politics: Will he run for the top job in 2020?

  11. wallwritings says:

    For those above who question Sanders on his views on Israel, this just in from Ha’aretz.

    “Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said in an interview published Friday that the United States should “play a much more even-handed role” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that under certain circumstances, he would consider reducing the yearly $3.1 billion in military aid provided by the U.S. to Israel, part of a record $38 billion military aid package over the coming decades.

    Sanders made the comments during an interview on foreign policy to the left-wing website The Intercept. Commenting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Sanders said that “the United States is complicit” in Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, but immediately added that “it’s not to say that Israel is the only party at fault”

    Jim Wall

  12. Samia Khoury says:

    Amen indeed but I fully agree with Awad that Justice is missing in that speech, although he does allude to the fact that “so few have so much and so many have so little.”. However I could not help but recall the words of Dr. Martin Luther King
    “We are tied together in a single garment of destiny
    We are caught in a network of mutuality
    And I can never be who I ought to be
    Until you are who you ought to be”

  13. samijoseph says:

    Please forgive the negative comment. One should never forget that the word ‘politician’ is derived from the word ‘prostitute’. Also, one should never take anything said by any politicians at face value. Talk is cheap, action speaks louder than words. Incidentally, Churchill was no saint as he is credited with authorizing the use chemical weapons on civilians- see:

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