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.
The Black Book of Communism (in my opinion the best scholarly work on the subject) seems to vote for Hitler as the answer to the question of who's worse, Hitler (25M) or Stalin (20M).
Also, remember Hitler ruled for a shorter period of time thus making the Hitler directed death toll much worse.
The occupation of Poland was one of the most brutal in European history. Occupation aithorities, especially the SS, were under no legal or moral constraints as regards their conduct and the execultion of occupation policies. Poles had no recourse. The NAZI set out to eliminate the Polish intelgencia and reduce the rest of the country to a vast population of slave labor. It is estimated that a quarter of the population of Poland perished during the occupation. Hitler did not view Poland as a legitimate nation. He saw it as a creation of the hated Versailles Treaty ending World War I. Poland had split Germany through the Polish Corridor. He was determined that Poland would never again threaten Germany or limit Germany's drive for lebensraum. The NAZI plan was simple. First they plan to eliminate the Polish inteligencia. Second they would expel Poles and colonize the former Polish areas with Germans. The was given orders to kill Polish prominent civilians and individuals such as government officials, the nobility, teachers, and priests throughout Poland, any would which could promote Polish nationalism or offer leadership.
The thesis of the book is about the wholesale blackout on Communist Crimes. And so the title.
Why such a deafening silence from the academic world regarding the Communist catastrophe, which touched the lives of about one-third of humanity on four continents during a period spanning eighty years? Why is there usch widespread reluctance to make such a crucial factor as crime--mass crime, systematic crime, and crime against humanity-- a central factor of analysis of Communism?The fact of the matter is that with this statement Bush has denied the pretense of journalism that this intellectual warfare is past.
Is this really something that is beyond human understanding? Or are we talking about a refusal to scrutinize the subject too closely for fear of learning the truth about it? [such as, "Time and again the focus of terror was less on targeted individuals than on groups of people."]
The reasons for this reticence are many and various. First, there is the dictator's understandable urge to erase their crimes and to justify the actions they cannot hide . . .
. . . Not satisified with the concealment of their misdeeds, the tyrants systematically attacked all who dared to expose their crimes and victims grew reluctant to speak out . . .
As is usually the case, a lie is not, strictly speaking, the opposite of the truth, and a lie will generally contain an element of truth. Perverted words are situated in a twisted vision that distorts the landscape . . . Like martial artists, thanks to their incomparable propaganda strength grounded in the subversion of language, successfully turned the tables on the criticism leveled against their terrorist tactics . . . Thus they held fast to their fundamental principle of ideological belief, as formulated by Tertullian for his own era: "I believe, because it is absurd."
Like prostitutes, intellectuals found themselves inveigled into counterpropaganda operations . . . confronted with this onslaught of Communist propaganda, the West has long labored under an extraordinary self-deception, simultaneously fueled by naivete in the face of a particularly devious system, by the fear of Soviet power, and by the cynicism of politicians . . . this self-deception was a source of comfort . . .
there are three more specific reasons for the cover-up of the criminal aspects of Communism. The first is the fascination with the whole notion of revolution itself . . . Openly revolutionary groups are active and enjoy every legal right to state their views . . .
The second reason is the participation of the Soviet Union in the victory over Nazism . . .
The final reason . . . the Communists soon grasped the benefits involved in immortalizing the Holocaust.
--Stephaen Courtois, "Introduction" The Black Book of Communism
I agree, we should stop the war in Iraq, lets kill all the insurgents and come home.
President Reagan had it right when he decribed the USSR as the Evil Empire, and President Bush is right to remind the world that the USSR was evil. Brutal dictatorships such as the Soviet Union, Nazi (National SOCIALIST) Germany, Communist China, and Saddam Hussein's (Baathist Socialist) Iraq have many things in common. To give one example, they all would not allow their people to keep and bear arms, since then the people could resist tyranny. But the liberals in the U.S. would like the Second Amendment to be repealed, showing once again their total ignorance of history (or perhaps their hidden agenda?).
A major blow to the usual suspects.
I was never more proud of our President.
I wish more people would read it and be more accurate with their facts.
They were not the same murderes or the Polish people would not have re-elected the communists to power a few years ago.
This was from Reuters. I want to see how the Times writes its own story about Bush's appreciation of the Yalta Conference and its aftermath. They might attribute to FDR's ill health and death two months later. I doubt that they'll mention his administration was infiltrated with commies.
Mr. Mundt: Did you draft or participate in draftng, parts of the Yalta Agreement? Mr. Hiss: I think it is accurate and not an immodest statement to say that I did to some extent, yes.
These are fiery words of earth-shaking courage and conviction.
I just heard on the radio how Bush said FDR, the dems' icon, was partly responsible for agreeing to the outcome of the Yalta Conference. The dems must be livid.
I wish he'd use the same language about the domestic slavery FDR caused with his 'New Deal' and SS and Medicare and Medicaid and whatever other million government agencies we still have to deal with today. FDR deepened the great depression, and nearly destroyed the values of the country with his socialism.
Also, like Chavez, he tried to stack the supreme court.
There was nothing America or the UK could have done to keep the Red Army out of Eastern Europe - Yalta or no Yalta.
Remember, Japan was still fighting us hard in the Pacific - we only engaged a small number of her military in the Island hop war. Also Eastern Europe was not well liked by the Americans - most of Eastern European countries were members of the Axis powers - no American cared to risk their lives to save Hilter's buddies from the Soviets' wrath.
The only nations we really cared for in the East were Poland and the Czech part of Czechoslovakia (the Slovaks were Nazi allies). That is the historical fact without the modern revisionist spin.
I think you are at the wrong party!
These are decisive years in which the US can strengthen ties with Eastern Europe. It should be our first interest to do so. Between Rice and Bush visits there is now a greater possibility for this.
If Roosevelt had taken Gen. Patton's advice, this story wouldn't even be an issue.
Aleksander Kwaniewski is a Polish politician and currently the President of Poland. He was an activist of Socialist Union of Polish Students. He succeeded Lech Wa³êsa as President after winning the 1995 elections. Kwaniewski was elected for his second and final term as president in 2000 (gaining majority of votes already in the first round). He was also a former leader of the left-wing Socjaldemokracja Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, an heir to the Polish United Workers Party, and later of the Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej (Democratic Left Alliance). He is an atheist.
Alliance of the Democratic Left (Polish: Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej, SLD) is one of the main Polish social democratic political parties. A coalition of parties used this name from 1991 to 1999. It was formally established as a single party on April 15, 1999. Most of the members who established the party in 1999 had previously been members of SdRP (Socjaldemokracja Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej - Social Democrats of the Republic of Poland). SdRP and some other socialist and social democratic parties had formed the original Alliance of the Democratic Left as a left-wing coalition just prior to the nation's first free elections in 1991. At the time, the coalition's membership drew mostly from the Polish communist party, the Polish United Workers Party, which ruled the People's Republic of Poland with Soviet support before 1989. An alliance between the SLD and the Polish Peasant Party ruled Poland in the years 19931997.
Bush is so full of sh/t...what a joke.
Sorry for being a kill joy. Not my fault many forget that most of Eastern Europe was part of the Axis powers and no American was going to die to save them after WW2.
Not at all - Most of Eastern Europe was allied to the Nazis - no American was going to fight to save former Nazi allies.
"Bush is so full of sh/t...what a joke."
I know how your statement reads. I'm just wondering if that's what you meant?
Medicare and Medicaid were the courtesy of LBJ's Great Society. I guess you're a youngin. Did you go to public screwl?
Forget about whether anybody wanted to or not. The point has been publicly made by the President that we had a hand in a grave error. His admission shows courage and humility which trumps the rhetoric of Putin, who thinks the breakup of the USSR was a catastrophe.
I couldn't have said it better.
"Not at all - Most of Eastern Europe was allied to the Nazis - no American was going to fight to save former Nazi allies."
I don't think Patton was primarily interested in saving Eastern Europe per se. He wanted to kill the cancer of Soviet Communism before it had a chance to spread any further.
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.
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