One of the most seriously flawed statements ever uttered by President Bush was delivered in a speech over the weekend in the Baltic country of Latvia. Said the President:
V-E Day marked the end of fascism, but it did not end oppression. The agreement at Yalta followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable.Excuse me?! Talk about historical revisionism.
Now, most major league bloggers residing in the left side of the blogosphere have already commented effectively (see here and here and here) but I wanted to add a couple of notes.
Let me say first that I'm rather well-studied in the history of World War II. Without going into a lot of detail, let's just say I know my stuff.
Anyway, the premise that the Soviets could have been dislodged from Eastern Europe at the end of the war is ludicrous. The reality is, the Western Allies were not going to make much headway against the Red Army of May 1945.
But the real problem was political. The British public certainly would not have tolerated a continuation of the war and it's doubtful the American public would have been much more accepting.
The same can be said of the troops on the ground. Talk about smashing moral. After defeating Germany, no GI wanted to press on to fight indefinitely against a new enemy.
It's just childish and profoundly ignorant (politically, militarily and economically) to think a continuation of WWII to take on the Soviet Union was even remotely possible in 1945.
I think a lot of this belief comes from the movie Patton. Seriously. There is a scene in the movie, after the general has been built up as a military god for two hours, where George C. Scott’s Patton expresses a confident desire to continue the war and smash the Soviets.
I hear this all the time from people with, at best, a marginal knowledge of WWII. They will say something like “Oh, Patton could have driven the Russians all the way back to Moscow!” Well, all bluster aside by the controversial general, no he couldn’t.
There are a lot of military reasons for this not being possible but people like to believe the myth. I’ll leave the discussion about the real Patton for another time but for now I will warn you to take anything Patton had to say with a grain of salt. He was full of himself and very reckless on a number of levels.
For the President to revive the old “Yalta was a sell-out to the Soviets” meme is beneath even him.