Skip to comments.Bush says Cold War captivity one of great wrongs
Posted on 05/07/2005 3:20:28 PM PDT by neverdem
Filed at 1:34 p.m. ET
RIGA (Reuters) - President Bush denounced Soviet Cold War rule of eastern Europe as ``one of the greatest wrongs of history'' on Saturday in a jab at Moscow two days before celebrations of the 1945 victory over Hitler.
Bush, visiting Latvia before the ceremonies in Moscow marking 60 years since the end of World War II in Europe, also held up the three Baltic states as examples of democratic reform since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
He said the end of the war brought liberty from fascism for many in Germany but meant the ``iron rule of another empire'' for the Baltic states -- Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia -- and nations from Poland to Romania.
Bush admitted the United States shared some responsibility for the Cold War division of Europe after the 1945 Yalta accord between Russia, the United States and Britain.
``Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable,'' he said. ``Yet this attempt to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability left a continent divided and unstable.
``The captivity of millions in central and eastern Europe will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs of history,'' he said in a speech at Riga's guildhall.
The three Baltic states joined both NATO and the European Union last year.
Bush's visit to Riga has angered Russia by reviving tensions about the Soviet occupation when Moscow is focusing on celebrating the end of World War II, a conflict that cost 27 million Soviet lives.
Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed calls by the Baltic states for an apology for Soviet rule and accused them on Saturday of trying to cover up past Nazi collaboration.
BUSH MEETS PUTIN
The differing versions of history may make for frictions when Bush meets Putin in Moscow on Sunday and Monday.
Putin insists the Red Army was a liberator, not an oppressor, of Eastern Europe.
``Our people not only defended their homeland, they liberated 11 European countries,'' Putin said on Saturday after laying a wreath at a monument to Russia's war dead.
In a recent state of the nation speech he bemoaned the demise of the Soviet Union as ``the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.'' He has also said Washington should not try to export its own brand of democracy.
Bush said Russia's leaders had made ``great progress'' in the past 15 years.
``In the long run it is the strength of Russian democracy that will determine the greatness of Russia and I believe the Russian people value their freedom and will settle for no less,'' he said.
``As we mark a victory of six decades ago, we are mindful of a paradox. For much of Germany, defeat led to freedom. For much of Eastern and Central Europe, victory brought the iron rule of another empire.''
He also held up the Baltics as examples of successful shifts to democracy, a theme he stressed for nations including Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Belarus.
``These are extraordinary times that we're living in and the three Baltic countries are capable of helping Russia and other countries in this part of the world see the benefits of what it means to live in a free society,'' Bush told a news conference.
But Bush did not back pleas by the Baltic countries for an apology from Russia. ``My hope is that we are able to move on,'' he said.
He later flew to the Netherlands where he will spend Saturday night.
The presidents of Lithuania and Estonia will boycott the May 9 ceremonies in Moscow. Georgia's president will also stay away, but Latvia's president will attend.
All three Baltic nations, whose combined population is now about 6 million, were occupied by the Soviet Union in June 1940 after a pact between Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia which divided up spheres of influence in East Europe.
In 1941, German troops occupied the Baltics and remained there until the end of the war when Soviet troops returned and ruled with an iron fist. The collapse of communism enabled the Baltic states to win their independence in 1991.
Bush also urged free elections in Belarus, which shares borders with Lithuania and Latvia, and ruled out any secret U.S deal with Moscow allowing President Alexander Lukashenko to remain in power. ``We don't make secret deals,'' he said.
Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga wrote in the Washington Post on Saturday: ``Russia would gain immensely by ... expressing its genuine regret for the crimes of the Soviet regime.
``Until Russia does so ... its relations with its immediate neighbors will remain uneasy at best.''
But writing in the French daily Le Figaro, Putin dismissed calls for an apology and accused the Baltic countries of trying to justify their own government's ``discriminatory and reprehensible policy'' toward their Russian-speaking populations.
Police detained about 20 protesters from Latvia's big Russian minority after they hurled smoke bombs in a demonstration against Bush.
``Bush is a horror,'' said protest leader Beness Aija. Posters in another demonstration said: ``Stop the war in Iraq.''
But many Latvians welcome Bush. ``It's important to recognize the struggle that our fathers had against communists and the Soviet Union,'' said Ugis Senbergs, a 50-year-old architect.
It depends on who and when. There were some isolated incidents in the West (as there were isolated incidents of the Western allies murdering German POWs.)
On the other hand, the Germans were not bound by the Geneva convention in their dealings with the East.
Meanwhile, rust and evil never sleep.
Yes, I cannot say that the domestic agenda is going as well as I would have hoped.
President Bush is very likely to go into our history books as a great foreign policy president. But his domestic agenda just isn't shaping up the way I would like to see a conservative government -- Republican in the House, Senate, and Presidency -- come together.
I particularly didn't like the recent addition of means testing to the Socialist Security reform proposal. Private accounts are a fine idea -- especially as they move us toward completely privatizing this FDR monstrosity -- but means testing isn't, it just moves Socialist Security deeper into left field.
The failure to make meaningful budget cuts is another one failure that I find it hard to fathom. That is a target-rich environment, one that with some party discipline should be easy to make some real ground with.
And then there is the judicial debacle: That again is a matter of a circular firing squad -- we don't seem to be able to grasp the reins and go forward.
The internal passport is a bad idea, a creation that will not be looked at fondly by our children who will have a diminished sense of what it is to be a free American.
As to the drug "benefit", well, that's one that I would very much like to see rolled back, but it's not going to be and it is going to take an already creaking socialized medical payments system and break it within the next 30 or so years.
I would like to see the Department of Education, one of the silliest boondoggles that we have, eliminated.
Putin called the brake up of the USSR a catastrophe because it stranded Russian populations outside of Russia - but people who distort the truth like only to tak ethe first part of his words and not what followed.
The war was not over - Japan was still fighting - and the Russian outnumbered the Western allies 3 to 1 or more with some good tanks armies.
The best resistance to totalitarianism is simply to drive it out of our own souls, our own circumstances our own land, to drive it out of contemporary humankind. The best help to all who suffer under totalitarian regimes is to confront the evil which a totalitarian system constitutes, from which it draws its strength and on which its "vanguard" is nourished. If there is no such vanguard, no extremist sprout from which it can grow, the system will have nothing to stand on. A reaffirmed human responsibility is the most natural barrier to all irresponsibility. If, for instance, the spiritual and technological potential of the advanced world is spread truly responsibly, not solely under the pressure of a selfish interest in profits, we can prevent its irresponsible transformation into weapons of destruction. It surely makes much more sense to operate in the sphere of causes than simply to respond to their effects. By then, as a rule, the only possible response is by equally immoral means. To follow that path means to continue spreading the evil of irresponsibility in the world, and so to produce precisely the poison on which totalitarianism feeds.
I favor "antipolitical politics," that is, politics not as the technology of power and manipulation, of cybernetic rule over humans or as the art of the utilitarian but politics as one of the ways of seeking and achieving meaningful lives, of protecting them and serving them. I favor politics as practical morality, as service to the truth, as essentially human and humanly measured care for our fellow humans. It is, I presume, an approach which, in this world, is extremely impractical and difficult to apply in daily life. Still, I know no better alternative.
--Vaclav Havel Open Letters "Politics and Conscience"
I thought once a commie always a commie with you anti-Putin crowds? LOL
Destro, why are you baiting ms_68?
Look at his home page, this person is Polish. If anyone has a right to think the Communists were horrible, it's his/hers. They lived under that oppression for years. For God's sake, cut them some slack.
They attacked "Commie" Putin - yet his nation elected Polish Communists and he seems to support his "Commie" President. I baited no one.
The irony of it is that he isn't even a really good foreign policy president. He openly supports the anti-American Law of the Sea Treaty, FTAA and other measures that give more of our sovereignty to global governance bodies. LOST effectively gives the UN tax and regulatory powers independent of our control.
Whoever says that Bush is against the UN is either ignorant or dishonest. Part of the reason we invaded Iraq was to uphold UN resolutions against Saddam's WMD programs and now Bush actually quietly supports a UN treaty that would give them more power. In this case, real, meaningful power.
Even if we concede that Putin is not a communist that doesn't make him any friend of freedom. Besides, calling a typical social democrat in Europe a communist is akin to calling a libertarian a paleo-conservative.
He told you the president of Poland is not a communist.
"Kwasniewski is a democrat, and from the democratic wing of PZPR, SLD was formed."
He told you his grandfather fought the Nazi's and was in a German POW camp and came home alive after the war.
His fellow soldiers who were captured by the Soviets were murdered.
His family lived this hell for over 50 years. You didn't.
I don't know what kind of pleasure you get from this continued baiting. But I ask you to stop it.
Communist party under a new name is not Social Democrat.
Then the Republican Party under Bush is no different from the Republican Party whose leaders razed the South to the ground in the Civil War committing some of the worst warcrimes in American history. Personally, as I have no direct experience with Polish politics I will take ms_68's words since he/she is Polish. If he/she says they're a multifactional party, then I'll give them the benefit of the doubt until I have reason not to.
As a young communist, Aleksander Kwasniewski, was minister of sport. Now at 41, in democratic Poland, he is a Social Democrat.
"People still don't know whether the former communists will perform very well once they hold all positions of power in Poland," said Jacek Kurczewski, a sociologist at Warsaw University. "Until now we must say, frankly, that they were performing quite well democratically."
Kwasniewski has his own debts to pay.
"His buddies. The dozens of thousands of old comrades have been waiting behind him all those years, for a comeback. Not to build a gulag mind you, no, just to get a slice of the pie," said Gebert.
One force in Poland, now barely with a place in the table, is the Catholic Church which strongly supported Walesa.
In the end, what the church wanted didn't matter to Poles willing to abandon the hallowed past and the legacy of Walesa to take a chance on new blood.
What ever happened to fact checking on your own? The Communist party in Poland changed their name to the Social Democrats and won in a landslide - defeating Walesa despite the fact he and his party were supported by the Catholic Church.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.