As detailed in “American Betrayal,” U.S. recognition of the USSR was more than a strategic blunder (although the strategic nature of the blunder is also examined). There was a hideous moral cost as well.
FDR’s decision to convey legitimacy on the Communist dictatorship followed (or came in a lull of) what we now know as the Ukraine Terror Famine. This was Stalin’s state-engineered famine that purposefully starved 5 or 6 million people to death, maybe more. While officially lied about -- the first “Big Lie,” as epic chronicler Robert Conquest calls it -- the truth of Stalin’s famine was “widely available” in the West in scores of newspapers. The subject, however, didn’t even come up in U.S.-USSR negotiations over recognition.
This, theoretically, would be akin to Hitler’s Holocaust not coming up in a similar set of diplomatic negotiations.
In other words, ignoring, or even tolerating, the millions of people Stalin killed became a prerequisite to recognition -- the “unprincipled deal with totalitarianism,” as Solzhenitsyn would call it in 1975. “In 1933 and 1941 your leaders and the whole Western world made an unprincipled deal with totalitarianism. We will have to pay for this; someday it will come back to haunt us. For thirty years we have been paying for it,” the sage and courageous author of “The Gulag Archipelago” said. “And we’re going to pay for it in an even worse way in the future.”
It’s time we try to understand what he meant.
(Diana West’s new book is “American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character” from St. Martin’s Press. She blogs at dianawest.net, and she can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @diana_west_.)