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Yalta betrayal revisited.

ITEM: Jacob Heilbrunn wrote in the Los Angeles Times for May 10 (and other papers) about President George Bush's visit to the Baltics. When the president compared "the Yalta accord among Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin in [February of] 1945 to the Hitler-Stalin pact," said Heilbrunn, that should have caused "outrage here at home." Heilbrunn went on: "The claim that Roosevelt betrayed Eastern Europe and 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...."

Continued Heilbrunn: "The slander against Roosevelt that Bush has taken up dates back to the early 1950s, after Harry Truman and Dean Acheson had supposedly 'lost' China to communism. That's when the American right first decried what it viewed as a consistent pattern of 'appeasement' in the Democratic Party."

ITEM: In the New York Observer on May 12, Joe Conason accused President Bush of "historical falsification," saying that he had "slander[ed] one of his greatest predecessors." Conason continued: "In a display of the extremist ideology that drives politics and policy in his administration, George W. Bush chose a platform in Latvia to repeat an old right-wing slur against Franklin Delano Roosevelt."

CORRECTION: Just because an inconvenient or uncomfortable charge has been made before does not make it untrue. It remains a sad fact that the pattern of acquiescence and assistance to Moscow, which the Yalta conference rightly came to symbolize, helped betray millions of people, entire nations, into the maw of Communism.

The arrangements made in Yalta furthered the collaboration with Stalin, whose joint dismembering of Poland with Hitler started World War II in Europe. The war that Britain and France ostensibly entered to free the Poles ended with the West helping lock the shackles on Poland for decades, as well as on most of Eastern and Central Europe, and set the stage for China's takeover by Mao.

Poland was "written off at Yalta," notes military historian John Keegan in The Second World War (1989), "though it had fought every day of the war since 1 September 1939, maintaining an army in exile which stood fourth in size among those opposed to the Wehrmacht...."

Apologists have long maintained that the Soviet takeover of Eastern and Central Europe was inevitable. Even if that were so, why bless it? Yet, there was much more than "inevitability" involved. Well before Yalta, Roosevelt had revealed his willingness to appease Communists (e.g., he recognized Stalin's regime diplomatically in 1933 even as the dictator was starving millions of Ukrainians to death). President Roosevelt even admitted to (later Cardinal) Francis Spellman in 1943, "the European people will simply have to endure the Russian domination in the hope that--in ten or twenty years--the European influence will bring the Russians to become less barbarous."

It was Roosevelt himself who offered up eastern Poland at Yalta, the portion east of the so-called Curzon Line. The post-war arrangement for Poland brought a gasp from Admiral William Leahy, the president's chief of staff, who told FDR: "This is so elastic the Russians can stretch it all the way from Yalta to Washington without even technically breaking it."

Not that Stalin worried about breaking deals when it suited. By late March of 1945, even FDR was forced to admit that the Soviets had no intention to allow free elections in Poland, saying: "We can't do business with Stalin. He has broken every one of the promises he made at Yalta." That wasn't exactly so. Stalin often did just what the Big Three agreed upon, including dragooning legions of slave laborers as "reparations," forcibly repatriating millions of refugees to the gulag and worse, and uprooting millions of others from their homes.

Other apologists ignore the fact that Washington and London kept fueling Stalin's war machine even as it was enslaving much of Europe. "Soviet preponderance in Europe," noted Churchill's official biographer Martin Gilbert, did not stop more aid to Stalin, code-named Milepost, including a delivery agreed to on April 3, 1945--after FDR's above comment. "Under this agreement, Russia was to receive, and did receive, more than a thousand fighter aircraft and 240,000 tons of aircraft fuel, as well as 24,000 tons of rubber from Britain, and more than three thousand aircraft, three thousand tanks, nine thousand jeeps, sixteen thousand weapons carriers and 41,436 trucks from the United States, as well as nearly two thousand million dollars worth of machinery and equipment."

The notion of a sellout was not invented by "ultra-conservative" Republicans or Joe McCarthy during the 1950s, as liberals would have us believe. Right after Yalta, Sir Henry Channon, a Tory leader in Britain, "commented on the 'inconsistency' of those MPs who had abused [Prime Minister Neville] Chamberlain in 1938 and were now 'meekly' accepting this surrender to Soviet Russia,'" noted John Charmley in Churchill: The End to Glory (1993).

FDR's former ambassador to Moscow, William Bullitt, took particular note of the sellout of China, made without even informing the Chinese government. Among the long list of concessions was a virtual invitation for the Communists to take over Manchuria (setting up Mao's eventual conquest of China). Bullitt wrote in Life magazine in 1947 that, "no more unnecessary, disgraceful and potentially disastrous document has ever been signed by a President of the United States."

Averill Harriman, our wartime ambassador to the Soviet Union and no conservative, said in 1944 that Roosevelt "told me he didn't care whether the countries bordering Russia became communized." Stalin did. Thus, in significant part because of the betrayal at Yalta, those nations were handed from one dictator to another.
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Title Annotation:CORRECTION, PLEASE!
Author:Hoar, William P.
Publication:The New American
Article Type:Correction Notice
Date:Jun 13, 2005
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