Friday, 13 May 2005

Yadda yadda Yalta

Long-lost blogger Jacob Levy returns to The New Republic Online with a strong defense of President Bush’s condemnation of the Yalta agreement (and, I suppose, by extension, the Tehran agreement that preceded it) between Britain, the Soviets, and the United States during World War II. Money quote:

Yalta may not be a reference that excites many Americans but it's hardly a forgotten word in Eastern Europe or the Baltics. The historical chords struck by the word "Yalta"—in a week that was, after all, mainly about striking 60-year-old historical chords—continue to evoke for many in Eastern Europe the West's betrayal of their freedom. Twenty years ago, Zbigniew Brzezinski, hardly a right-wing nutcase, wrote in Foreign Affairs that the symbolic, as opposed to the historical, meaning of Yalta had come to serve as "the synonym for betrayal." This may be an obscure thought in America. It is certainly not in Poland or the Baltics.

Levy’s argument strikes me as rather more convincing than the dopey “coded slam at FDR” nonsense peddled by David Greenburg and others. Then again, one wonders how Levy managed to write the phrase “Bush’s skillful diplomacy” with a straight face—even I got a chuckle out of that one, although in this case he’s right.

(þ: Will Baude and Pejman Yousefzadeh)