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Bush Attempts to Undo Legacy of Roosevelt, Again

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Social Security ain’t the only evil FDR brought to the world:

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.

Bush said the lessons of the past will not be forgotten as the United States tries to spread freedom in the Middle East.

“We will not repeat the mistakes of other generations, appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability,” the president said. “We have learned our lesson; no one’s liberty is expendable. In the long run, our security and true stability depend on the freedom of others.”

Bush singled out the 1945 Yalta agreement signed by Roosevelt in a speech opening a four-day trip focused on Monday’s celebration in Moscow on the 60th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s defeat.

Listen, I can understand what he’s doing here, and why he’s doing it. Rhetoric is cheap, and other than offending the Russians, besmirching the reputation of the finest American President of the 20th century, and doing history a disservice, Bush isn’t really hurting anyone. Nonetheless, I do wonder if he understands the argument he’s making here; President Bush is suggesting that the United States ought to have made war in May of 1945 against the Soviet Union in an effort to liberate Eastern Europe. Stalin would not have backed down; Poland and the Baltic states were not negotiable issues for the Soviet Union. What would the consequences of this have been?

1. A far stronger Communist presence in Italy and France. Things were so close in both countries that a continued war would might well have pushed them into full revolution.

2. Dreadful, if short-term, defeat at the hands of the Red Army. The Red Army would have crushed Western Allied forces in Germany in relatively short order during the summer of 1945. The Red Army had better equipment, better tactics, better training, and more experience. It is unlikely that the Western Allies could have held their position in Germany.

3. Alliance with former Nazi elements in order to prevent #2. The only force in Europe capable of offering significant resistance to the Red Army would have been the Wehrmacht. Patton was re-installing Nazi officials in 1945 anyway, and there is little question that war with the USSR would have led to greater cooperation with these forces.

4. Heavy strategic bombing, combined with the use of atomic weapons, in an attempt to stave off the Soviet advance. The almost complete uselessness of these forms of attack against actual Soviet military forces means that they would have been used against civilian targets.

5. Russo-Japanese collaboration in the Pacific. Stalin had no problem seizing Manchuria from the Japanese when the Allies maintained a united front, but in the case of continued war in Europe there is little question that Russia would have lent support to the Japanese. This support might have had limited material import, but it’s important psychological effect would have kept Japan in the war for a much longer period of time.

In other words, George W. is suggesting that FDR screwed up by not pursuing a war that would have killed millions and millions more people. Perhaps George should look a little closer to home when trying to condemn the actions of those who lived sixty years ago; his own Republican Party advocated only a minimal response to Nazi aggression, and his grandfather, as we all know, did business with the Nazis into the 1940s.

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