The Right Coast

May 11, 2005
Some American crimes may not be named
By Tom Smith

What an extraordinary thing that Bush actually apologized for Yalta. Nothing can have shown more clearly that he is miles ahead of the dunderheads at the Times and the Post, who still think it is 1962. Some habits die hard, I guess. Yalta was a profound disgrace. It never would have happened but for FDR's illusions about Stalin. If FDR had made a deal with Hitler, I like to think we would have no problem seeing it as evil, but for mysterious reasons, the illusion of Uncle Joe refuses to die, or dies only very slowly. W just put another stake in that stubbornly animate corpse. Arthur Schlesinger may never figure it out, but in Latvia, Poland, Hungary and everywhere else in the former Soviet empire, they know what Bush acknowledged, that they were betrayed by what Eisenhower called a crusade for freedom. Their freedom was sold cheaply, far more cheaply than we sold the British, Italians or the French. And the French had a lot more to answer for than the Poles.

Nothing could show more clearly than Bush's apology how far he has moved away from the realist camp of his father, Kissinger, Nixon, and the rest of them. It's hard to imagine Reagan making those remarks about Yalta. He may have thought it, but it would have been too radical for him to say. There is still apparently some need to apologize for the Evil Empire in aging Democratic circles, but nobody will hear it in Warsaw or Budapest. What a bracing thing it is to see new democracies forcing old democracies to speak the truth. This is Bush's evil empire moment. Yalta was necessary, Yalta was justified, Yalta was just realistic -- more filler for history's unmarked grave of discarded lies.