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, 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.
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.”
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.