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Dontreadonme
During the recent V-E Day remembrance ceremonies, Bush attended those in the Baltic States, Russia and Holland, along with other world leaders and made the following remarks:

"While the end of World War II brought peace to these countries, it also brought "occupation and communist oppression"

"We will not repeat the mistakes of other generations - appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability,"

BBC

QUOTE
"Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable," said Bush, addressing an audience that included the presidents of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, with whom he had met earlier in the day.   
   
"Yet this attempt to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability left a continent divided and unstable," he said. "The captivity of millions in Central and Eastern Europe will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs of history."   
   
Bush's speech in effect served as an argument for his ambitious second-term overseas agenda: promoting democracy and ending tyranny on a global scale. His efforts have been criticized by some politicians and commentators abroad, who accuse him of meddling and oppose the centerpiece of his strategy, the invasion of Iraq.

LATimes

QUOTE
Bush said the agreement in 1945 at Yalta among President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Soviet leader Josef Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill "followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact." The decisions at Yalta led to the division of eastern Europe and creation of the Soviet bloc.

USA Today


Questions for debate:

In light of events in the middle east, where many see Bush as pursuing an imperialist policy and keeps allies of dubious democratic value, are his remarks hypocritical?

Are his remarks an injustice to the legacy of FDR?

Bush's statements concerning the Soviet Union have riled Russian President Putin; Are those remarks truthful and something that needed to be said? Or have they unnecessarily heightened tensions between old cold war rivals?


Supplemental questions for the amateur historians among us:

Was FDR's policy towards the Soviet Union, after the fall of Nazi Germany, the correct path?

Could he have foreseen the cold war tensions, and could he have mitigated them in any way by fencing the Soviets out of portions of Eastern Europe and the Balkans?


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Erasmussimo
I will address only the historical questions:

Was FDR's policy towards the Soviet Union, after the fall of Nazi Germany, the correct path?

Could he have foreseen the cold war tensions, and could he have mitigated them in any way by fencing the Soviets out of portions of Eastern Europe and the Balkans?


Technically the first question is misworded, as FDR was dead before the fall of Nazi Germany, but I get your overall drift.

The problem here is that Soviet Army was already in occupation of the areas in concern. FDR had no leverage for demanding a Soviet retreat from eastern Europe short of war. There were some hawks calling for such a war; George Patton was one. But the great majority of Americans were tired of war and wanted an end to it. Remember also that, at the time of Yalta, the Japanese were still very much alive and kicking; the highest American priority was freeing up the European front so that it could concentrate on the Pacific front. Lastly, the American A-bomb was by no means a sure thing at that time; Roosevelt had no reason to believe that the A-bomb would end the war with Japan or overawe Stalin. In short, he didn't have a lot of cards to play with, and he certainly didn't have the cards to bully Stalin. He cut the best deal he could at the time.
English Horn
QUOTE(Dontreadonme @ May 8 2005, 10:20 AM)
QUOTE
"Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable," said Bush, addressing an audience that included the presidents of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, with whom he had met earlier in the day.    
    
"Yet this attempt to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability left a continent divided and unstable," he said. "The captivity of millions in Central and Eastern Europe will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs of history."   



This whole quote left me disguisted, because somehow it equals the occupation of Nazis with occupation by Russians. I spent almost every summer between 1975 and 1986 in Vilnius, Lithuania and I've seen first hand what the "horros of occupation" were - national history and language was taught in school and widely used, there were Lithuanian bookstores and festivals, unlike in the rest of the Soviet Union the religion wasn't frowned upon... not to mention that it was Russians who introduced manufacturing into this largely agrarian nation and built a nuclear power plant in Ignalina which supplies electricity to the entire nation to that day. Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia were pretty much a vacation spots for the entire nation - would they be if there were any real "greatest wrongs of history" happening there? I never heard of Nazi officers sending their families to Poland in 1940 for a summer, or even US Army officers spending their vacations in Iraq, Afganistan, Okinawa, or Guantanamo Bay.

And now, the new, independent Baltic states, allow former Waffen SS veterans to have a military parade on the streets of Riga and they bury their fallen SS soldiers with full military honors. Way to go! sour.gif
Dontreadonme
QUOTE(English Horn @ May 8 2005, 12:22 PM)
 
This whole quote left me disguisted, because somehow it equals the occupation of Nazis with occupation by Russians. I spent almost every summer between 1975 and 1986 in Vilnius, Lithuania and I've seen first hand what the "horros of occupation" were - national history and language was taught in school and widely used, there were Lithuanian bookstores and festivals, unlike in the rest of the Soviet Union the religion wasn't frowned upon... not to mention that it was Russians who introduced manufacturing into this largely agrarian nation and built a nuclear power plant in Ignalina which supplies electricity to the entire nation to that day. Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia were pretty much a vacation spots for the entire nation - would they be if there were any real "greatest wrongs of history" happening there? I never heard of Nazi officers sending their families to Poland in 1940 for a summer, or even US Army officers spending their vacations in Iraq, Afganistan, Okinawa, or Guantanamo Bay. 

I don't doubt your personal experiences in the Baltics, but you're post seems to imply that there were virtually no atrocities committed by the Soviets towards the people of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

QUOTE
Baltic officials argue they're merely seeking justice for some of the worst crimes of the 20th century and that the proceedings help people come to terms with the past.

-snip-

Most Estonians have at least one relative who was killed or deported in the '40s, so there is broad public support for prosecuting ex-agents. But given their ages, there seems to be at least some ambivalence about actually locking them up.

Link

Judging from my quick readings of the multitude of sites from Google, you're impression of the horrors of occupation differs greatly from that of many others.
So much so that there is a drive for permanent homes for museums of occupation in the states.
Link

edited to add link.
English Horn
QUOTE(Dontreadonme @ May 8 2005, 12:46 PM)
I don't doubt your personal experiences in the Baltics, but you're post seems to imply that there were virtually no atrocities committed by the Soviets towards the people of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Judging from my quick readings of the multitude of sites from Google, you're impression of the horrors of occupation differs greatly from that of many others.
So much so that there is a drive for permanent homes for museums of occupation in the states.


Soviet Union occupied Baltics - it's a fact. As United States learned in Iraq, a nationalistic insurgency often follows an occupation. I have no doubt that Russians dealt with the insurgents. The events you mention took place in the forties - my personal experiences took place during the 70s and 80s. During that time Baltics were the more prosperous and "free" republics in the union, a "zip code" as prestigious as Moscow and St. Petersburg. Nothing like that is being mentioned by Bush or the media, as well as Baltics' dishonorable history of fighting alongside SS (and wearing it on a sleeve today) and participating in an extermination of Jews.
All I am saying is that history is never black and white, and we here are being presented with only the part of the whole picture.
ralou
In light of events in the middle east, where many see Bush as pursuing an imperialist policy and keeps allies of dubious democratic value, are his remarks hypocritical?


Yes, but it's even more hypocritical if you move your eyes away from the Middle East and onto Haiti.



Are his remarks an injustice to the legacy of FDR?


No, because Somoza and Batista are also Roosevelt's legacy.


Bush's statements concerning the Soviet Union have riled Russian President Putin; Are those remarks truthful and something that needed to be said? Or have they unnecessarily heightened tensions between old cold war rivals?


I don't think Bush cares a bit about anyone's freedom, so I suspect he felt the remarks needed to be said for a completely different reason. I think he's mad that Russia sold arms to Venezuela (and in fact seems to be selling arms to a lot of countries China has new oil deals with). These activities, and perhaps others we aren't privy to, have heightened tensions, and will continue to do so.
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