I was thinking about the reaction to President Bush’s ‘Yalta’ speech and how that contrasts to the constant calls that he’s a sellout, someone who pretends to support liberty while coddling dictators. Is it not the same people who do the latter that are now complaining about the former?
Which is incoherent but not surprising. Bush’s speech, it seems to me, was a well calibrated poke Putin’s eye, exactly the kind of thing the naysayers claimed Bush would never do. I suspect that it was payback for Putin not living up to his early boosting by Bush.
The best part is, of course, that because it’s also a jab at Franklin Delano Roosevelt, it puts the Modern American Left in the position of once again defending Soviet tyranny in order to either defend FDR or castigate Bush for being impolitic.
On top of that is the fact that castigating Bush requires treating him as pushing seriously to avoid the compromises of the past, such as accepting the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe as a reasonable trade off (as opposed to the desperate war-time measure it was). I think Yalta was a bad decision not for what it ratified (which was not going to be changed given the realities of the day) but for the moral imprimature it put on the Soviet occupation. It enabled Soviet sympathizers in the West to treat the occupation as a natural and proper thing, rather than what it was.
However, that was a different time when we faced more serious threats. In the same way it was at one time valid foreign policy to coddle dictators as long as they were our dictators but now it’s not. As history begins the process of ending, the threshold of what we can overlook in order to properly pursue our national interests is decreasing. History ends when we can no longer tolerate despotism anywhere by anyone.