“There can be no middle ground here. We shall have to take the responsibility for world collaboration, or we shall have to bear the responsibility for another world conflict.” … Roosevelt’s words ring hollow through history considering what happened after Yalta. Congress agreed with FDR’s assessment of the Crimean accords, but the next world conflict was already under way. Historians have tried to connect the dots over the last 69 years- many connections have yet to be convincingly made…conspiracy has filled the voids.
“Of course I believe in a free Poland…come now, let’s smoke”
Stalin clearly benefited from the agreement… as much of the groundwork for the Eastern Bloc was laid during the negotiations. How could Roosevelt and Churchill allow Stalin to have his way on a majority of the issues? If we believe Churchill’s self-described deference to Roosevelt, something(or someone) influenced the decision making. Questions about FDR’s health are at the source of many conspiracies: Was he too weak to deal with the diplomatic rigors? Did knowledge of his mortality cloud his judgement during negotiations? Was he willing to grant a great deal to Stalin to secure what he considered to be his legacy, the United Nations? The lack of written evidence, combined with basic deduction has led many an amateur historian down the conspiratorial path.
Liberal hero; Soviet spy- ALES
Most historians now concede that Alger Hiss… was not simply an American Communist, but in fact, a Soviet agent. Hiss was a member of the US delegation to Yalta. He arranged some of the papers used during the negotiations. Conspiracy theorists do not have to leap too far in linking Hiss to the outcome at Yalta. Records indicate that Hiss had a minor role(at best) during the negotiations. But, to conspiracy theorists, lack of written evidence is never a deterrent.
“It was not a question of what we would let the Russians do, but what we could get the Russians to do.” Future Secretary of State James Byrnes commented on the Yalta conference which began on February 4, 1945.
The exhausted three
Most historians now agree that Yalta… is where Stalin exerted his will upon the European continent. Theories abound as to how this came to pass- Roosevelt’s illness, Churchill’s weariness, Soviet agents posing as American diplomats (Alger Hiss)- regardless, the Soviet Union came out of the conference a world power. Byrnes’ observation was optimistic to say the least…
What seemed at the time to be reasonable compromise… laid the foundations for the Eastern Bloc.
Iron Curtain descending
- Free elections in Poland- clearly stacked in Stalin’s favor, the exiled Polish government in London stood little chance against the Provisional Communist state built by the Red Army in 1945.
- Red Army occupation of eastern and central Europe was accepted- and despite assurances to Churchill of peaceful intentions, Stalin told Molotov, “Never mind. We’ll do it our own way later.”
- The Red Army would occupy half of Germany including the entirety of Berlin. The seeds of the Cold War are planted out of what was thought to be military expediency.
Harry Truman’s Liberalism is too often overlooked by historians… indoctrinated by the historiography of FDR and the New Deal. Truman’s Fair Deal was every bit as progressive and in regards to civil rights, it far exceeded the progress of his predecessor.
Truman was also dealing with the Red Storm rising… the ambitions of Stalin’s Russia in post-war Europe. Roosevelt had established an amiable tone with the Soviets at Yalta- the direct precursor to the aggressive moves of the Red Army in Eastern Europe. On April 23, 1945 Truman met with Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov. The new American President made it clear that policies were changing-
“I explained to him [Molotov] in words of one syllable…that cooperation is not a one-way-street.”
“I have never been talked to like that in my life….”
“Carry out your agreements and you won’t be talked to like that.”
Listen to me now….
The Buck was stopping….
Harry Truman was not a popular politician in 1948… Labor unrest, foreign crises, and domestic communism scandals plagued his time in office- the bulk of FDR’s fourth term. A Presidential term no one really wanted Truman to serve- FDR’s administration had ignored Truman in the first 80 days and became openly hostile during the transition. Truman had no choice but to make key changes in the cabinet to counter the insubordination from Roosevelt’s aides. Even Elanor Roosevelt questioned Truman’s foreign policy decisions- FDR’s widow was cordial with his successor, but had never enthusiastically endorsed his position.
Keeper of the New Deal faith
FDR supporters saw Truman as… provincial, uneducated, and just plain average. He lacked a college education, performed poorly in social situations, and didn’t possess the charismatic presence that endeared so many Americans to Roosevelt the icon. Truman’s Midwest roots alienated him from the Democratic power structure of the Northeast. Roosevelt diehards resented that he had replaced long-time confidant, Henry Wallace, on the 1944 ticket. Truman angered them further when he dismissed Wallace from the cabinet for insubordination in 1946. Wallace used this animosity to garner the Progressive party nomination in 1948. The Roosevelt coalition had been irreparably broken, so Wallace had little chance of winning- but his campaign threatened Truman’s Democratic base.
Trust me, I’m President
This uncouth, undereducated, Midwest rube… was now trusted to keep the US out of World War 3, get the economy moving again, root-out communist subversives, and continue the struggle for civil rights- all while his party divided twice beneath him during a reelection campaign.
Filed under Ephemera, News
The comparisons of Donald to Trump and Wendell Willkie are real and legitimate… as stated in a previous post. Trump had every opportunity to study the campaign failures of another businessman and political novice. Inexplicably, Trump has repeated nearly every mistake Willkie made against FDR in 1940.
Business leader, political novice
Business leader, political novice
“FDR: A Biography” is French-American biographer, historian and journalist Ted Morgan’s 1985 biography of the 32nd president. Morgan was born Comte St. Charles Armand Gabriel de Gramont but changed his name (to an anagram of “de Gramont”) after becoming an American citizen in 1977. Morgan won a 1961 Pulitzer Prize in journalism and his 1982 […]
Not since Abraham Lincoln have I been this excited about the next president on my journey through the best presidential biographies. Two years ago, twelve biographies of Lincoln consumed four months of my life with everything that 9,500 pages of gripping narrative could offer. Now I’m on to an even more audacious task: reading 18 […]