May 10, 2005
-- by Dave Johnson
The claim that Roosevelt betrayed Eastern Europe at Yalta, and that he set the stage for 40 years of Soviet domination, is an old right-wing canard. By repeating it, and by publicly charging that the Yalta agreement was in the "unjust tradition" of Hitler's deal with Stalin, Bush was simply engaging in cheap historical revisionism. His glib comments belong to the Ann Coulter school of history.We need to understand just how far to the right Bush's statement was. This is back to McCarthyism. And where will it go from here? Watch your backs.
[. . .] One element of the right-wing mythology developed in those years was that Alger Hiss, who served during the war as an assistant to Secretary of State Edward Stettinius Jr. — and who was charged in the years that followed with being a Soviet spy and was convicted of perjury — was instrumental in getting Roosevelt to collude with Stalin against Churchill. It was none other than Joseph McCarthy who declared in February 1950 that "if time permitted, it might be well to go into detail about the fact that Hiss was Roosevelt's chief advisor at Yalta when Roosevelt was admittedly in ill health and tired physically and mentally." In later decades, conservatives such as Ronald Reagan would denounce any negotiations with the Soviet Union as portending a new "Yalta."
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But they don't see any problem with comparisons between themselves and Joe McCarthy. Indeed, Anne the Coultergeist even published a whole book adoringly worshipful of Tailgunner Joe. As far as they're concerned, ole' Drunken Joe was right, and that's that.
- Badtux the Historian Penguin
Posted by: BadTux at May 10, 2005 1:59 PM
The more I've examined Bush's statements, and how they echo certain paleoconservative lines of BS, the more disturbed I've become.
It's one thing to say that Stalinism was bad, and that Soviet domination of eastern Europe was wrong and horrific. Everyone agrees (except, ironically, Bush's soul brother Putin).
But is Bush saying we should have invaded, er, liberated (we never invade, we only liberate, of course) eastern Europe and the Baltics, and fought the Soviets directly?
Bush has now endorsed the old right-wing view of the end of WW2 — that it was American “appeasement” that “lost” eastern Europe to the Soviets. Would his belief in fighting for “freedom” at all costs (including destroying those you claim to be liberating) extend to the idea of a war (possibly nuclear) against the Soviets?
Here’s a piece from The Nation on how Bush’s foreign policy reflects long-held beliefs of the American far right:
[I]t recalls the onset of the cold war and the formidable critique of containment by Republicans like James Burnham, co-founder with William Buckley of National Review. Like Bush, Burnham assumed that “the unparalleled supremacy” of the American military would continue into the indefinite future. In 1947 he denounced internationalism as appeasement and error, containment as too passive (Bush says the United States “can no longer solely rely on a reactive posture”) and isolationism as a political-economic impossibility.
Instead, the United States should pursue a “World Empire,” based on its monopoly of atomic weapons. Why not wield the bomb to “make politically possible…the domination of the world by a single sufficiently large state”? … In 1950, in The Coming Defeat of Communism (which like the Bush doctrine was applauded at the time by many centrists of both parties), he urged Washington to “join the offensive”: American policy should aim “not at the defeat of Russia, but at its liberation.”
I've blogged more about this here.
Posted by: Maximus at May 10, 2005 3:28 PM
The conclusion is the best:
What's more, it was the isolationist right that never wanted to fight the war in the first place, which it conveniently forgot once it began attacking Democrats as being soft on communism. Nothing of course could be further from the truth. Roosevelt went on to recognize Stalin's perfidy shortly before he died, and it fell to Truman to fight the Cold War.
Roosevelt's record is no cause for shame, but Bush's comments are.
The concept of shame presupposes a conscience. Ann Coulter is a true reflection of Republican foreign policy and treatment of domestic enemies. Why should they feel shame for carrying out God's will? These are dangerous times.
Posted by: Gary Boatwright at May 10, 2005 3:36 PM
These are dangerous times indeed. I doubt that many reading these posts can remember the calls from the right after WW II ended to nuke Russia "before it's too late." Those funny, old-fashioned scenes of school kids being taught to "duck and cover" under their desks were not funny at the time.
It's hard to comprehend now how many millions died during WW II. Russia's sacrifices were unimaginable. If the Russian people hadn't been so brave, the war would probably have been lost. It was hard to comprehend then how strong the pressure was for the US to stay out of the war, and especially to comprehend that much, if not most, of that pressure was coming from extreme right wing fanatics who wanted Hitler to win. Partly, but not entirely, because they were strongly anti-Semitic. That's why any pact made then with Russia is hated to this day. As Dave previously pointed out, Bush's granddaddy helped Hitler finance his war.
Posted by: MJ at May 10, 2005 4:36 PM
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