Was Yalta a Mistake?

President George W. Bush is in Latvia today and made some interesting remarks:

Bush said the agreement in 1945 at Yalta among President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Soviet leader Josef Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill “followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.” The decisions at Yalta led to the division of eastern Europe and creation of the Soviet bloc.
“Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable,” the president said, opening a four-nation trip to mark the 60th anniversary of Nazi Germany's defeat. “Yet this attempt to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability left a continent divided and unstable.”
“We will not repeat the mistakes of other generations—appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability.”

Wow, there's a debatable topic. Would it have been better to fight Stalinist Russia at the end of World War II to preserve the freedom of the Soviet client states? If not then, when? That's a tough question. Remember one of the many reasons we used nuclear bombs in Japan was to warn the Soviet Union not to expand. The Soviets had more men and equipment in the field than anyone else. I'm sure it was somewhat frightening to have our exhausted but triumphant troops in Germany facing an oncoming Soviet juggernaut. Many of our efforts were still divided in a two-front war. A negotiation that led to apportionment of “spoils” to the Soviet was probably the easiest way out.

Bush goes on:

“The great democracies soon found that a new mission had come to us: not merely to defeat a single dictator but to defeat the idea of dictatorship on this continent. Through the decades of that struggle, some endured the role of tyrants, and all lived in the frightening shadow of war.
“Yet because we lifted our sights and held firm to our principles, freedom prevailed.”

And some more comments that will have the anti-preemptove-war zealots wringing their hands:

“The idea of countries helping others become free—I would hope that would be viewed as not revolutionary, but rational foreign policy and decent foreign policy and humane foreign policy,” Bush said. “I think countries ought to feel comfortable with having democracies on their borders.
“I will continue to speak as clearly as I can to President Putin that it's in his country's interests that there be democracies on his borders,” Bush said.

Democracies may be likely to vote themselves bread and circuses but at least they're far less likely to resort to terrorism to fulfill their goals. This led to my split with the anti-war libertarians a few years ago. I believed that state-sponsored terrorism deserved preemptive war. They did not.

Hat tip to Clayton Cramer for a link to this story.

Update 5/8/2005: Belmont Club has even more comments on Bush's Yalta comments, along with a lot of insight, including:

Yalta marked the moment from when Winston Churchill first openly called the Soviet Union a menace to the Free World. With Nazi Germany clearly dying, Stalin had replaced Hitler as the principal menace to Britain.

Also, this sour comment about the effect of Bush's remarks:

But George Bush's apology is really addressed toward his perception of American historical intent. He seems to be saying “yes my predecessor intended to carve up the world with Josef Stalin. He had no right to deliver people into bondage and we will never do it again.” It is a moral apology, no less futile than regrets over slavery or the dispossession of the Indian tribes.

Bush's comments might serve to stir up the radical left, though. Isn't that worth it?

Josh Poulson

Posted Saturday, May 7 2005 09:27 AM

Adjacent entries


« Carnival of Cordite #11
Media Failures »





To track back to this entry, ping this URL: http://pun.org/MT/mt-tb.cgi/552

There are no trackbacks on this entry.


There are 2 comments on this entry.

This led to my split with the anti-war libertarians a few years ago. I believed that state-sponsored terrorism deserved preemptive war. They did not.

For the moment, let me just agree with you. State-sponsored terrorism deserves preemptive war. Now, what will you say about Iraq? Bush is now strongly inmplicated with direct evidence that he "fixed the books" in order to sell his previously decided upon decision to invade Iraq.


James Guglielmino

Posted Monday, May 9 2005 02:06 PM

Saddam Hussein was publicly offering a bounty to the families of suicide bombers in Palestine, he was providing shelter to escaped terrorists, he tried to assassinate George Herbert Walker Bush when he visited Kuwait, and during the Gulf War in 1991 he launched SCUD missiles into Israel, to say the very least of his many other crimes.

The WMD possession rap was a red herring compared to many other issues.

Josh Poulson

Posted Monday, May 9 2005 03:26 PM

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)



Affiliate advertising

Basecamp project management and collaboration

Backpack: Get Organized and Collaborate