The Corner

Moralism, Realism, and Yalta

One thing I don’t get about Bush’s Yalta critics: They’re suggesting that selling out eastern Europe (at least symbolically) was prudent statecraft at the time. The state is a cold monster and all that. I think most of Bush’s defenders will allow that the critics have a point there. But isn’t it hard to reconcile with a moralistic attack on Bush? If Bush thinks that apologizing for Yalta is necessary to pursue the foreign policy of the moment–as a way to get eastern Europeans to like us, for example–then isn’t that a defense of him, too? It’s not obvious that selling out a president who’s been dead for 60 years is worse than selling out millions of living (and some soon-to-be-killed) people, even accounting for FDR’s having been an American.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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