May 8, 2005
-- by Dave Johnson
In Europe yesterday Bush spouted old-fashioned far-right nonsense and shit all over FDR and Churchill and all the soldiers who died fighting the Nazis. Bush: Yalta led to repression that still must be addressed,
Second-guessing Franklin D. Roosevelt, President Bush said Saturday the United States played a role in Europe's painful division after World War II - a decision that helped cause "one of the greatest wrongs of history" when the Soviet Union imposed its harsh rule across Central and Eastern Europe.Someone else noticed. (Update - Max Blumenthal noticed, too. But also see this. My point is the similarity of theme.) (Update 2 - paperwight at BOPNews also is on this now, wth a different twist.) (Update 3 - Steve Gilliard is on this brilliantly.) (4 And Lawyers Guns & Money and Brad DeLong.) (5 Digby now.) I thought maybe it was only me. You have to be old enough to understand just how far, far, far right this stuff is. From the story,
"Certainly it goes further than any president has gone," historian Alan Brinkley said. "This has been a very common view of the far right for many years - that Yalta was a betrayal of freedom, that Roosevelt betrayed the hopes of generations."
For some understanding of the right-wing roots of Bush's speech read this National Review piece, Under Yalta’s Shadow, (while keeping in mind that the agreement was for free elections in Europe and the Soviets helping defeat Japan and the alternative was war with the Soviets.) Here is Pat Buchanan in The Betrayal of Poland 1939-1945:
With Poland's membership in NATO at issue, a question has arisen as to whether America owes a debt to the Polish people for Franklin D. Roosevelt's having "betrayed" the Polish nation to Joseph Stalin at Yalta.But the Right's beef goes back even further. Before WWII there was an "America First" movement, championed by Charles Lindbergh, that among other things tried to stop America from supplying Britain with shipping convoys. Lindbergh complained that "the defense of England" really meant "defeat of Germany." In a September 11, 1941 speech in Iowa Lindbergh "blamed the British, the Roosevelt administration, and the Jews for drawing America into the war, proclaiming that they were all agitators."
[. . .] But, in truth, Yalta was only the final betrayal of Poland, and not only FDR but Winston Churchill bears moral responsibility for a half-century of communist enslavement of the Polish people.
To this day the Right blames FDR for "getting us into" World War II, even saying he conspired to start the war. And they say that the Yalta agreement that Bush spoke out against was part of a "Communist plot" by FDR to help the Soviets take over the world. Here is a recent example. Here is Patrick Buchanan in an article defending America First and accusing FDR:
And there were secret agents and dupes. Only they were not Nazis. They were communist traitors and Stalinist spies honeycombed through FDR's regime: Alger Hiss, Laurence Duggan and Noel Field at State, Harry Dexter White at Treasury, Lauchlin Currie in FDR's White House, Judith Coplin at Justice, Rep. Sam Dickstein, Julius Rosenberg and David Greenglass in the atom bomb project, etc., etc.So what Bush is saying contradicts accepted history and follows the far-Right line that America made a mistake by allying with the Soviets, justifying this with the example of what the Soviets did following the war.
This has been an ongoing theme in Republican/European discourse, that Germany was fighting the Soviets, and we should have been on their side. Remember when Reagan laid a wreath on SS graves at Bittburg, and when in a speech he said the Lincoln Brigade fought on the "wrong side?" (The Lincoln Brigade fought against the fascists in Spain.) Remember also Pat Buchanan defending Demjanjuk by saying "he was fighting communism." (Update This was from memory, not a source. I'm looking for a source but may have confused Buchanan's support for Demjanjuk and separate Buchanan statements about the Nazis fighting Communism.) And remember that Bush's grandfather helped finance the Nazis.
Yes, the roots of Bush's speech denouncing FDR and Yalta go way back.
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Pat Buchanan asks the question, Was World War 2 worth it? He mentions specifically the words from President Bush's speech earlier this week in Latvia: For much of Eastern and Central Europe, victory brought the iron rule of another empire. V-E d... [Read More]
Tracked on May 12, 2005 11:38 AM
Bush is acting more and more blatantly extremist. This goes along with his attempt to destroy the UN by putting Bolton there and his spitting on the constitution by trying to force the Senate to abandon the filibuster. I bet he'd get along really well with McCarthy.
Posted by: Mary at May 8, 2005 6:43 PM
With respect, I don't see all the implications in Bush's statement that you do. I.e., I don't think what Bush said can be equated with Lindbergh's rhetoric, or Buchanan's defense of Demjanjuk.
And it is true that the USSR did oppress millions of Eastern Europeans after WW2. But his casting aspersions on FDR for signing the Yalta agreement is indeed vile. There really was no alternative at the time. It wasn't "appeasement". Bush is a moral absolutist with no grasp of history at all.
Posted by: Maximus at May 8, 2005 7:21 PM
Dave is absolutely right equating what Bush said with the America First movement and Lindbergh. There was a very strong isolationist movement among the American far right that was always anti-Roosevelt, anti-semitic, and much of it was overtly pro-Nazi. Like it or not, this is still true. Bush appears to be Hell-bent on antagonizing Russia, antagonizing the entire UN, and God knows what else he has in mind. WWIII? Armageddon?
Posted by: MJ at May 8, 2005 9:18 PM
I'm confused about whether Bush was laying the groundwork for drawing parallels between WWII and Iraq, which justifies lying our way into the Iraq War or planning an invasion of Eastern Europe.
Posted by: GaryBoatwright at May 8, 2005 10:50 PM
I think he's daring Russia to do anything about what he's saying, risking getting us into a war. Does he want war with Russia? This is a dangerous game of Chicken.
I'm adding this comment mostly because I tried to post a comment to the blog above and couldn't do it, so I' trying to see if this problem is specific to that blog or a general problem.
Posted by: MJ at May 9, 2005 6:08 AM
Russia bore the brunt of sacrifice in WWII. They broke the back of the German army as Churchill acknowledged, lost more people than any other country in the war by far, and here this fucking little twit is lecturing them. How fucking embarrassing.
Posted by: Vinnie at May 9, 2005 10:37 AM
I'm with Vinnie on this one. If the Soviets had not fought the Germans at a level of sacrifice the US has never even contemplated, let alone suffered, our soldiers would have fought bravely in Western Europe facing MORE THAN DOUBLE the number of German divisions they did face. And they would have lost.
Posted by: richard at May 9, 2005 11:20 AM
THE UNITED STATES IS THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD !!
Posted by: DAVOS at May 9, 2005 3:44 PM
I'm with Richard and Vinnie on this, Bush is an embarassment to this country. He certainly has no grasp of history (or science for that matter). FDR was damm near dead by Yalta, and really had no choice unless he wanted war with the Soviets. If he wasn't a legacy the only way he could have entered Yale was to sweep the floors.
Posted by: naturalist at May 9, 2005 4:21 PM
My mother and father in law lived in Poland and escaped Russia's brutality. My father-in-law watched Russian soldiers take HIS father away to be executed. Poland felt VERY betrayed by FDR and the US for their complacency. If you didn't live it....your mindless speculations don't count. ON THIS account, President Bush was correct! Deal with it! On this account, Mr. Dave Johnson...your liberal rants won't work! YOU ARE WRONG!
My mother and father in law lived in Poland and escaped Russia's brutality. My father-in-law watched Russian soldiers take HIS father away to be executed. Poland felt VERY betrayed by FDR and the US for their complacency. If you didn't live it....your mindless speculations don't count. ON THIS account, President Bush was correct! Deal with it!
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