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.
So much for this summit.
I'm tempted to post the "Master of the Obvious" graphic, but for many Euro-peons, and for most of the striped-pants cookie-pushers at State, this statement is NOT obvious.
More's the pity.
And just to prove it they built a wall around Eastern Europe and shot anyone trying to climb that wall. Putin sounds more and more like some of our liberal politicians ...tell a lie long e'nuff and sooner or later some left-wing fruitcake is gon'na believe it.
Of course, NPR will disagree.
Not only NPR, the State Department will as well. They must be choking.
I like how Bush trashed Roosevelt for giving away a billion people in Eastern Europe to Communist rule to 'uncle joe'.
The idiotic headline on AOL right now, a photo of President Bush and "He Slams Putin, Chafes Wounds . . . Bush's Trip Raises Russian Ire . . . Are Icy Relations His Fault?"
Heaven forbid we have a President who tells the truth about Soviet oppression. His speech today made up for his father's infamous "Chicken Kiev" speech in July 1991, which precipitated the abortive August 1991 coup.
They want to break up Russia so the "West" (Euro-American-Germany) to be able to have access and outright ownership of Russia's vast natural resources without the Kremlin's interference and they want to strengthen and keep China whole so that the globalist economy can have access to stable Chinese manufacturing structure and emerging Chinese market of one billion plus souls (or so they hope).
That is why Bush is doing the bear baiting and ignoring the Jewish death tolls in the Baltics by avoiding the subject of their Nazi collaborationist past which taints Baltic claims of being victims somewhat. They were only enthusiastic at killing Jews for the Nazis.
PS: No statue of Stalin has gone up in Russia - it is a distorted story by neocon influenced press - it is a statue of all three allied leaders - Stalin - Roosevelt and Churchill and it was rejected - it will end up at some park in Volvograd.
We are watching a great manipulation of the news for foreign policy purposes - again.
Okay, but I have yet to hear anyone put forth a practical alternative given the facts as they existed at the time, and "turn Patton loose" doesn't count. The Russians already had their armies in Eastern Europe and wee were not going to try to kick them out in the aftermath of Germany's defeat. Any president who tried something like that would have been impeached immediately.
Our troops in Europe wanted nothing else but to go home. The fact that some of them were going to have to go to the Pacific didn't sit well with them or their families; A shooting war with the Russians just wasn't going to happen.
What happened to the Eastern Europeans sucks. But history is full of such tragedies.
A radioactive crater in the middle of Red Square might have had a most positive effect in keeping Eastern Europe free. There has to be a special circle of Hell for Stalin, FDR and Truman.
It is sad.
That's going to really frost the MSM.
Let them try to refute it.
Poland was in a tough spot in 1939.
No doubt the President's comments today will rouse the treasonous Bed Wetters at CBS, NPR, NYT, etc, but today is as good a day as any for conservatives to publicly hold the Rat Bastard Left to account for its historically immoral acquiescence at Yalta.
President Bush's remarks should serve as the starting point for instilling truth into our childrens' history books about this despicable act of moral and political cowardice, a betrayal engineered by a socialist President and, as Joe McCarthy so presciently pointed out, by a Communist-infested party that seldom misses an opportunity to sell out our national interests to foreign enemies (think Clinton and China.)
I can only hope that this is the beginning of a drive to hold accountable the Rats who enjoyed the benefits of a five-decade partnership with the Communist tyrants who murdered millions of innocents and enslaved hundreds of millions.
Go W, go!!