On a recent visit to Latvia, President Bush denounced the negotiations in Yalta, which abandoned Eastern Europe to the Soviet Union towards the end of World War II. He stated:
The agreement at Yalta followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable. Yet this attempt to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability left a continent divided and unstable. The captivity of millions in Central and Eastern Europe will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs of history.1
Conservatives, who have long condemned the Yalta sellout, rallied in support of the President, while leftist pundits found in it a platform to repeat their invectives against a “war hungry” president with “volatile” policies. Attempting to excuse the handover, some have claimed that Eastern Europe was already in Soviet hands (not entirely true). Thus, to ensure Soviet aid in the defeat of Japan, Roosevelt and Churchill were forced to kowtow to Stalin.2
However, tactical advantages fail to excuse the cowardice which cost millions their freedom and lives.
The Yalta Conference
This is easily understood when one considers the European and Asian concessions made to Stalin at Yalta. A list compiled by Phyllis Schlafly follows:
– Poland was turned over to the Soviet Union. The United States and Britain agreed to recognize Communist stooges as the new Polish government and to withdraw recognition from the legitimate anti-Communist government of Stanislaw Mikolajczyk.
– Germany was to be dismembered, its “national wealth” removed within two years, and several million Germans were to be sent to the Soviet Union to work as slave laborers….
– All Russian citizens who had fled to Germany from Communism were to be forcibly returned to the Soviet Union (i.e., the gulag).3
– The Soviet Union was allowed to keep control of Outer Mongolia, which the Soviets had seized from China. The southern part of Sakhalin and all the adjacent islands were given outright to the Soviets.
– The Kurile Islands were given outright to the Soviets, and Port Arthur was given to the Soviets for use as a naval base. The Soviets were given effective control of the commercial port of Dairen, the Chinese-Eastern Railroad and the South-Manchurian Railroad, using the subterfuge of assuring that the Soviet Union’s “pre-eminent” interests would be “safeguarded.”
The Errors of an Epoch
Such limp-wristed handovers have caused upright souls to cringe since February of 1945 when the summit was held. More disturbingly, Yalta ushered a world-wide mentality of appeasement, which has shaped mentalities even to the present.
According to Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Yalta contributed to the advance of pacifism and mediocrity. He stated:
The legitimate aspirations of peace of this class of men [men capable of solving problems] were led astray just after World War II, right at Yalta. The West was thrust toward the swamp of spineless and utopian pacifism – a pacifism that found its most precise expression in so many forms of detente, Ostpolitik and ecumenism.
Affirm nothing, deny nothing, cry out for almost no right, protest against no obscenity, in short, raise up moderation as the supreme rule of thinking and the obligatory element in desiring, feeling and acting: all this hurled the West into the swamp of mediocrity.
Such an outlook, brings the debate to a higher level, where squabbles about tactical advantages have no place. What the West needed, then as now, was a spirit of pugnacity, a willingness to stand up to evil and sacrifice for the common good.
No doubt, this spirit drove those allied troops who defeated Nazi Germany. However, the concessions at Yalta were a direct affront to their sacrifice, since millions who they fought to save from Nazi tyranny were freely given into Communist slavery. Admitting this error is a step towards rectifying it in the future.
The Return of Pugnacity
In this lies the true value of President Bush’s statement. One must hope that it signals a return of this decisive and pugnacious spirit which would banish the pacifistic and mediocre errors of our epoch and free “expendable” nations still in bondage.
Thank you President Bush for condemning these errors, but please do not stop there. Our nation still faces the evils of Communism in the East and 90 miles off the coast of Florida. The threat of nuclear arms casts its shadow on America. In face of this, we need decisiveness and pugnacity.
reat China, North Korea and Cuba with the uncompromising attitude that was lacking at Yalta. Anything less would be to fall into the same errors you so valiantly decried in Latvia.