Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 11, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

HISTORY AS FARCE....Yesterday I wondered who the president's seemingly casual Sunday reference to "Yalta" was aimed at. Today, Matt Yglesias and David Greenberg provide part of the answer. Via Matt, it appears to have struck a chord with Jonah Goldberg:

In Leftism (an organizationally chaotic but excellent book) [Erik Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn] speculated in a fairly throw-away fashion that the clamor to "bring the boys home" after the war was so widespread and well orchestrated that it might have been directed from Moscow so that the fait of the Soviet occupation could remain accompli as it were.

Has anyone ever addressed this question head on?

Yalta lives! For those of you who have never read anything about postwar history, this is pretty typical of the wingnut right in the late 40s and 50s. They routinely tossed out bizarre conspiracy theories suggesting that easily understandable actions like, say, bringing troops home after a long war were actually the result of some dark and treasonous cooperation between liberal Democrats and the Comintern. And just as Jonah does, they were usually phrased as questions Can it be? Would the evidence show? rather than firm statements of fact.

(Of course, to really capture the flavor of the time Jonah should have added a sorrowful sounding reference to the fact that FDR was old and sick at the time and the whole Yata sellout was really orchestrated behind the scenes by Alger Hiss.)

Elsewhere, David Greenberg links to yet another blast from the past. If Jonah is pitch perfect in reviving the conspiracy theory school of Yalta-mongering, Patrick Buchanan flawlessly captures the tone of the foaming-at-the-mouth school:

If Yalta was a betrayal of small nations as immoral as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, why do we venerate Churchill and FDR? At Yalta, this pair secretly ceded those small nations to Stalin, co-signing a cynical "Declaration on Liberated Europe" that was a monstrous lie.

As FDR and Churchill consigned these peoples to a Stalinist hell run by a monster they alternately and affectionately called "Uncle Joe" and "Old Bear," why are they not in the history books alongside Neville Chamberlain?

Yeah, baby! That should bring back memories for my mother. And a note for my younger readers: it's stuff like this that makes me skeptical that politics is any nastier today than it has been in the past. Suggesting that the Democratically controlled Senate is "not interested in the security of the American people" is pretty thin beer compared to the foam spittled accusations of treason that were the right's meat and drink 50 years ago.

Kevin Drum 1:08 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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