Those who treat the Cold War as a relic of the past ignore a salient fact: Communist regimes still exist, sometimes with nukes but always with human rights violations.
To get an idea of why they linger, it is helpful to see how they came into being. They were mostly established by the mother of all communist dictatorships, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). In World War II, Franklin Delano Roosevelt sought to placate wartime ally Josef Stalin, dictator of the USSR in every manner possible, particularly at the wartime conferences attended by the Allied leaders in Teheran and Yalta with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
From generous gifts of money and guns through Lend-Lease down to giving the man of steel, the literal translation of Stalin’s name, the green light to annex whatever territory he cared to and the people who lived on it, Roosevelt placed no ceiling on America’s willingness to accede to Stalinist demands.
In doing so, he was aided and abetted by a cadre of White House advisors and officials, some of whom turned out to be communists. M. Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein show in their new book Stalin’s Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government, that, for one thing, Alger Hiss virtually ran the Yalta conference.
Evans and Romerstein obtained copies of the papers of FDR’s Secretary of State, Edward Stettinius from the University of Virginia, which shows that he relied heavily on Hiss throughout the conference, and, for that matter, much of his time on the job.
In the course of pursuing his policy of accommodation, egged on by such advisors, FDR would treat America’s natural ally—Great Britain—cavalierly, to put it mildly. “In pursuit of this conception, Roosevelt at Teheran and Yalta adopted a strategy of distancing himself from Churchill and making common cause with Stalin,” Evans and Romerstein write. “This was rationalized as an effort to convince the dictator that the Anglo-Americans weren’t ‘ganging up’ on him, but degenerated into a series of unfunny Roosevelt jokes at Churchill’s expense—plus side remarks to Stalin about the evils of British colonialism (no comments about Soviet colonialism)—that amounted to ‘ganging up’ on Churchill.”
Here’s one of FDR’s knee slappers: “Slightly less strange, but strange nonetheless, was the President’s reference to Wendell Wilkie,” Evans and Romerstein write. “A moderate Republican who had run against Roosevelt in 1940, Wilkie, in the war years became a kind of roving U. S. ambassador, visiting heads of state in Europe and Asia.”
“He died of a heart attack at the relatively young age of fifty-two in the autumn of 1944, some weeks before the Yalta summit. Churchill at Yalta recalled that he had given Wilkie a copy of a speech the prime minister made about colonialism and the British Empire. In response, according to the Bohlen minutes, ‘the President inquired if that was what had killed Mr. Wilkie.’” What a cutup.
Charles E. Bohlen was FDR’s interpreter at Yalta. Evans is a veteran journalist and author of more than a half a dozen books.
Romerstein worked as an investigator for several congressional committees as well as at the Voice of America as an expert on Soviet forgeries. Unlike conventional academic histories of the Cold War, or much else, Evans and Romerstein relied nearly exclusively on primary sources in assembling this book.
They gathered many declassified government documents from the early years of the Cold War and material from the FDR presidential library in Hyde Park as well.
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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