On Saturday, Nov. 16, the United States marks a milestone: the 80th anniversary of when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt recognized the Soviet Union and “normalized” U.S.-USSR relations. It is a day that should live in infamy.
But it’s a day that hardly anyone has ever heard of. I certainly hadn’t before researching my book, “American Betrayal.” As I studied the event, however, it became clear that it was on this day 80 years ago that what I call “American betrayal” began. It is the date on which the U.S. government institutionally learned to lie.
After the Bolsheviks seized dictatorial powers in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution of 1917, four U.S. presidents (starting with Woodrow Wilson) and six secretaries of state (starting with Bainbridge Colby) refused to normalize relations with the new and bloody regime of Lenin and then Stalin.
Does the phrase “global communism” ring a bell? The Soviet Union was openly committed to and already fomenting communist revolution against all nations, including, of course, the United States. (This call to conquest echoes today in Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic groups’ calls to jihad for a global caliphate.) It was clear to our leaders back then that it wasn’t possible to conduct normal relations with such an abnormal state.
Secretary of State Colby, stating the Wilson administration’s position in 1920, noted there could be no “mutual confidence” when one party — the USSR — had no intention of honoring pledges, which, of course, is the very basis of normal diplomatic relations. Furthermore, Colby continued, the U.S. couldn’t recognize “a government which is determined and bound to conspire against our institutions.”
This made perfect sense — at least from an American point of view. Indeed, George F. Kennan, a young diplomat training as a Russia expert at the time of recognition, would write in his 1967 memoir, “Never — neither then (in 1933) or at any later date — did I consider the Soviet Union a fit ally or associate, actual or potential, for this country.”