The Corner

Applebaum On Yalta

She offers an insightful take on the Yalta business. I agree with many of her points, but in her effort to play the “both the left and right are wrong” card I think she gets Clinton’s apology tour a bit wrong. What was particularly annoying — for many of us on the right — was that Clinton was apologizing for the Cold War’s excesses when he came from a tradition and a party which was highly critical of the Cold War itself. He seemed to enjoy apologizing for America’s Cold War sins because he felt no moral or intellectial culpability for them himself. Clinton’s apology — like so many of his apologies — seemed like an attempt to buy grace on the cheap. Indeed, these days, when asked what he did wrong during his administration he’ll often say something to the effect of “I underestimated how terrible my opponents were.”

Applebaum makes a good point that the politics of today are causing people to see Bush’s Yalta comments in the context of the Right’s supposed current war on FDR’s legacy. But I don’t think that’s Bush’s aim. And his psychology is very different than Clinton’s. First, Bush declared “No more Munichs, No more Yalta’s!” in his first European address — before 9/11, while he was still holding hands with Ted Kennedy and touting compassionate conservatism. So his opposition to Yalta seems to be a core principle and not part of the (alleged) anti-FDR moment. And Bush’s psychology is self-evidently different than Clinton’s — a point friend and foe can agree on.


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