The Corner

Churchill & Yalta

From a reader:

Jonah:

Regarding your Yalta column, I have a question for you.

I’m sure you’ve read this comment on Yalta by Churchill in his famous “Iron Curtain Speech” delivered at Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946:

“…The Agreement which was made at Yalta, to which I was a party, was extremely favorable to Soviet Russia, but it was made at a time when no one could say that the German war might not extend all through the summer and autumn of 1945 and when the Japanese war was expected to last for a further 18 months from the end of the German war. In this country you are all so well-informed about the Far East, and such devoted friends of China, that I do not need to expatiate on the situation there.

I have felt bound to portray the shadow which, alike in the west and in the east, falls upon the world. I was a high minister at the time of the Versailles Treaty and a close friend of Mr. Lloyd George, who was the head of the British delegation at Versailles. I did not myself agree with many things that were done, but I have a very strong impression in my mind of that situation, and I find it painful to contrast it with that which prevails now. In those days there were high hopes and unbounded confidence that the wars were over, and that the League of Nations would become all-powerful. I do not see or feel that same confidence or even the same hopes in the haggard world at the present time….”

Do you think this comment is Churchill’s attempt to cover himself while simultaneously raising the specter of Soviet domination of Eastern (and possibly Western) Europe? He goes to great lengths in the speech to discuss how the Soviets were violating their mutual agreements and understandings. Clearly there is some truth to it, but does it paint the whole picture about why Eastern Europe was soldout at Yalta?

Just wondering what your thoughts were.

Me:Frankly, I don’t know. I’m not enough of a Churchillologist to say. I’d bec curious to know what Steve Hayward, one of our resident Churchiphiles has to say about all of this. But he’s probably off dirty-blogging with the No Left Turns crowd again.

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