[I]n the end Winston Churchill was a great statesman, a man who valued diplomacy and knew the finite limits of the powers of arms. One of his greatest late speeches made this point, with the help of famous lines of Vergil’s Aeneid,
When nations or individuals get strong they are often truculent and bullying, but, when they are weak, they become "better mannered." But this is the reverse of what is healthy and wise. I have always been astonished, having seen the end of these two wars, how difficult it is to make people understand the Roman wisdom, “Spare the conquered and confront the proud.” I think I will go so far as to say it in the original: "Parcere subjectis et debellare superbos." The modern practice has too often been, "Punish the defeated and grovel to the strong."
I could not reread these lines, in Wyatt's wonderful essay, without having the image of Donald Rumsfeld flash through my mind. His failings are, indeed, precisely what Churchill was warning us against.
Punish the defeated. That is indeed what Rumsfeld did. With the added twist that he tortured them as well.