The “what if?” game usually leads to little constructive benefit. But it’s still fun.

That’s why the following passage intrigued me. I’m transcribing it from Steven F. Hayward’s 2005 book Greatness: Reagan, Churchill & The Making of Extraordinary Leaders (Crown Forum).

The book focuses almost exclusively on the leaders named in the subtitle. But Hayward briefly focuses his attention on modern-day issues, as he contemplates a Churchill government in the Britain of 1938.

One can speculate … that had Churchill been prime minister in 1938, and taken Britain and France into a “preemptive” war against Germany at that time, he might well be remembered poorly today as someone who overreacted and started an unnecessary war, just as President George W. Bush is charged with doing in the case of Iraq.

I don’t know the president — nor any of his advisers — but I suspect Hayward’s one sentence quip offers us some insight into the thinking that motivates the White House.

If Bush and his team believe they are fighting an enemy as vile as Hitler (and all public and private pronouncements suggest that’s true), neither supporters nor critics of the Iraq War should expect the administration to waver from its course — regardless of the political consequences.