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Bush says Cold War captivity one of great wrongs
NY Times ^ | May 7, 2005 | REUTERS

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.


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.

KEYWORDS: bush43; bushupsetscommies; coldwar; destroagain; easterneurope; estonia; georgia; latvia; lithuania; poland; romania; russiavisit; wwii
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To: ms_68
Even Hitler's Germany didn't murder POWs.

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.

81 posted on 05/07/2005 7:57:09 PM PDT by PAR35
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To: risk
This news is rather suprising, don't you think?

Meanwhile, rust and evil never sleep.

82 posted on 05/07/2005 7:58:45 PM PDT by cornelis
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To: ILurkedIRegisteredIPosted
Too bad he continues to move us toward communism with steps closer toward socialized medicalcare, nationalized education and a national ID...

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.

83 posted on 05/07/2005 8:02:34 PM PDT by snowsislander
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To: cornelis

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.

84 posted on 05/07/2005 8:04:59 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting and
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To: BringBackMyHUAC
Patton also believed in reincarnation. No American was willing to die for Nazi allies Hungry, Romania, Bulgaria and the Baltic republics which soiled their cause during the war years. A case can be made for trying to save Poland - but we still had Japan to fight.
85 posted on 05/07/2005 8:08:04 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting and
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To: cornelis
The Cold War put the west in a difficult situation where we had to make existential choice after existential choice regarding our responsibilities to our fellow human beings. We weren't the cause of these dilemmas, but our response to them carried weight. Looking around the world, I see that our indecisiveness during the Cold War helped set the stage for third world terrorism. Soviet and Maoist tyranny were treated like diseases that had no cures by our State Department and the Democrats. The oppression in the Mideast has had a lot to do with support by both the Soviets and the Anglosphere for tyrants in the name of strategic advantage. Bush has said he's going to bring that to an end. Natan Sharansky has had a powerful impact on his thinking. The question is: can Bush bring along the rest of the free world's leaders? Both Tony Blair and John Howard have been reelected recently. I think this is a sign that appeasement and "dirty dealing" for strategic advantage may well be shelved for a time.
86 posted on 05/07/2005 8:08:10 PM PDT by risk
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To: Destro
"No American was willing to die for Nazi allies Hungry, Romania, Bulgaria and the Baltic republics which soiled their cause during the war years."

I don't know enough about the specific histories of these countries to address your point. But, as I said, I don't think Patton was thinking about any specific countries, he just wanted to kill Communism before it had a chance to spread further. And what better time to do it than at the conclusion of WWII? The equipment and troops were already there, and the Soviets were severely weakened. Moreover, had we invaded the Soviet Union, Russians would have joined our cause in droves. Indeed, if I remember correctly, Russian citizens, not realizing what the Nazis were all about yet, actually greeted the Nazis as liberators...that is, until the Nazis mowed them down with machine guns.
87 posted on 05/07/2005 8:20:20 PM PDT by BringBackMyHUAC
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To: BringBackMyHUAC

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.

88 posted on 05/07/2005 8:25:06 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting and
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To: Destro
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"

89 posted on 05/07/2005 8:32:54 PM PDT by cornelis
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Comment #90 Removed by Moderator

To: ms_68
They derive from the party that was the only in communist times

I thought once a commie always a commie with you anti-Putin crowds? LOL

91 posted on 05/07/2005 8:49:41 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting and
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To: Destro; ms_68

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.

92 posted on 05/07/2005 9:05:20 PM PDT by baseballmom
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To: baseballmom

They attacked "Commie" Putin - yet his nation elected Polish Communists and he seems to support his "Commie" President. I baited no one.

93 posted on 05/07/2005 9:11:37 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting and
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To: snowsislander

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.

94 posted on 05/07/2005 9:48:21 PM PDT by ILurkedIRegisteredIPosted
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To: Destro

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.

95 posted on 05/07/2005 9:52:18 PM PDT by ILurkedIRegisteredIPosted
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To: Destro

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.

96 posted on 05/07/2005 9:56:11 PM PDT by baseballmom
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To: ILurkedIRegisteredIPosted

Communist party under a new name is not Social Democrat.

97 posted on 05/07/2005 9:58:13 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting and
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To: Destro

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.

98 posted on 05/07/2005 10:01:47 PM PDT by ILurkedIRegisteredIPosted
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To: baseballmom
Communist fought the Nazis, so I don't get that point, and Kwasniewski was a member of the Polish Communist govt when Solidarity was being repressed.

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.

99 posted on 05/07/2005 10:07:16 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting and
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To: ILurkedIRegisteredIPosted

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.

100 posted on 05/07/2005 10:10:18 PM PDT by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorism by visiting and
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