Washington and the Baltics • Historical perspective series
Incredibly, the aims and policies of the most destructive worldwide war in history were developed in great secrecy. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, while claiming to be a man of the people, was fond of telling Soviet dictator Stalin that people did not understand, anyway. It is because only a few people were directly involved that we are still arguing over the various aspects of the Second World War.
Just as incredibly, his Vice President, Harry S. Truman, did not know about the development of the atomic bomb until the FBI passed the word after one of its “moles” in a Soviet espionage cell had learned about it!
We don’t even have a definitive idea why Roosevelt pursued the policies he did. There are, of course, a variety of assumptions, even in the memoirs of his closest associates. They range, besides the praise, from naïveté, poor health and failed policies to abject treachery. There was, of course, widespread dissention in the country and among government officials. Yet no one dared to oppose him openly because of his godlike popularity among the American people. His domestic policies had pulled the country out of the Great Depression and millions were grateful.
There are enough “conspiracy theorists,” who claim Roosevelt instigated economic conflicts with Japan to indirectly get the country into the European war. The basis for such claims is the fact that government programs (the so-called “alphabet agencies”) were draining money from the private sector and by 1938 the economy was failing, only to be resurrected by the war.
Additionally, Roosevelt hated Secretary of State Cordell Hull and basically was his own secretary of state. Hull’s assistant, Sumner Welles, was a personal friend of Roosevelt and was the one who issued the Baltic Non-Recognition Declaration. Yet shortly thereafter, Welles was forced to resign because of a personal scandal. Why Roosevelt gave his ok for the Declaration is not clear, except that it was issued a few weeks before the 1940 presidential election. We all know that he beseeched Stalin at Tehran to be quiet about his sellout of the Baltics just before the 1944 election, telling “Uncle Joe” that he needed their votes! We have to note that when Lithuanian-American leaders met with Roosevelt to complain about the June 1940 Soviet occupation, Roosevelt incredibly told them that they were wrong, that the takeover was temporary and Lithuania will soon be free!
We are indeed grateful to President George W. Bush for denouncing Roosevelt’s sellout at Yalta (and Tehran). But the President misspoke when he recently claimed that “American troops liberated a continent.” The gallant troops also included the Canadians, the British and among others, the Poles. They were allowed to liberate only half of the continent of Europe! The other half was enslaved, with Roosevelt’s approval and Churchill’s reluctant acquiescence, by the Soviet Union for half a century.
This is also where this writer takes umbrage of the last sentence of a piece on the State Department website, titled “The U.S., the USSR and the End of WW2:” “Despite the subsequent postwar controversies and the beginning of the Cold War, nothing can diminish the importance of the wartime cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union.” There are many reasons why “the importance of wartime cooperation” between Washington and Moscow can be diminished. And I would not term the enslavement of millions as simply “postwar controversies.” Roosevelt did everything that “Uncle Joe” asked him to do and a lot more. And to claim that nothing could be done because Soviet armies were in control of Eastern Europe and the Baltics is a copout, because a lot could be done before they got there.
What most people like to sweep under the proverbial rug is the fact that throughout the war and years after, Washington was full of Soviet spies, dupes and fellow travelers. One of them was Roosevelt’s close friend and associate, Harry Hopkins. The two families were even so close that they lived at the White House. Hopkins was in frequent contact with Stalin.
Only a few authors have pointed it out, but the third close friend, Robert Sherwood, writes in his book, “Roosevelt and Hopkins,” that Hopkins carried an unsigned piece of paper in his pocket. He took it out to read it occasionally and only shared it with Roosevelt. No one knows to this day who wrote it and why it even existed. The paper was titled “Russia’s Position” and only said it was from a “very high level United States military strategic estimate.”
“Russia’s post-war position in Europe will be a dominant one. With Germany crushed, there is no power in Europe to oppose her tremendous military forces. It is true that Great Britain is building up a position in the Mediterranean vis-à-vis Russia that she may find useful in balancing power in Europe. However, even here she may not be able to oppose Russia unless she is otherwise supported.
“The conclusions from the foregoing are obvious. Since Russia is the decisive factor in the war, she must be given every assistance and every effort must be made to obtain her friendship. Likewise, since without question she will dominate Europe on the defeat of the Axis, it is even more essential to develop and maintain the most friendly relations with Russia.”
George Crocker, the author of “Roosevelt’s Road to Russia,” maintains that the text had “an unmistakable made-in-Moscow look.” He says that “military security of the United States seems to have been the last thing on the [writer’s] mind. The American people had little understanding that what Roosevelt and Hopkins were seeing in their crystal ball was the domination of Europe by Communist Russia.”
Would this paper prove that Roosevelt and Hopkins were willing participants in the future Communization and Sovietization of Europe? Was this paper a roadmap for the entire war? And who was the author?
November 19, 2007
A paper in his pocket (5)