Irresponsible Historians # 94: Sir Martin Gilbert
'Historical responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men'.
- Lord Acton, historian, 1887
With that quote about 'historical responsibility' with respect to 'great men' in mind, meet Sir Martin Gilbert:
Exhibit A, 'Statesmen for these times' by Sir Martin Gilbert, dated December 2004:
'Many comment that today's leaders look small compared with the giants of the past. This is, I believe, a misconception...Although it can easily be argued that George W Bush and Tony Blair face a far lesser challenge than Roosevelt and Churchill did - that the war on terror is not a third world war - they may well, with the passage of time and the opening of the archives, join the ranks of Roosevelt and Churchill...'
Exhibit B, news report dated June 2008:
'Mr and Mrs Bush went on to Downing Street last night for an informal dinner of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with the Browns and three historians...David Cannadine, Churchill's official biographer Martin Gilbert and Simon Schama, presenter of the popular television series A History Of Britain, were invited after Mr Bush expressed an interest in meeting some historians, a No 10 source said'.
Exhibit C, news report dated August 2009.
In mid-June Gordon Brown announced that there would be a "non-judgmental", behind-closed-doors inquiry into the Iraq war, conducted by hand-picked insiders...members of the inquiry include historian Sir Lawrence Freedman, who helped Blair develop the doctrine of "liberal interventionism" that he used to justify the war. Historian Sir Martin Gilbert, who wrote an article in 2004 saying Blair and George Bush could one day be compared to Churchill and Roosevelt, is also a member of the inquiry.