Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Bush and Putin repeating history?


If you were filling out an SAT exam, and one of those ever-so-occasionally difficult "A is to B... as C is to _" questions came up, how would you answer the following:

BUSH > PUTIN as TRUMAN > __________

Well, perhaps this isn't so difficult because, well, STALIN was in power round about when Harry was, so you do have limited choices. Why the comparison?

DeTocque was struck by this article in today's FT. Basically, we have Putin reading Bush the riot act over this missile defense nonsense, while Bush's response is, in typical black-and-white Bushish, "Russia is not hostile. Russia is our friend." (DeTocque will avoid the probably necessary dissertation on W's simplistic language, but beg someone out there to write it, just for comedy's sake.)

Digressions aside, the Angry, Stubborn Ruskie and Pliant President sound eerily similar to character traits as explained in an excellent book DeTocque is finally finishing: "From Roosevelt to Truman" by Fr. Wilson Miscamble. The point here is that Stalin, despite having a weaker hand post-WWII (no A-bomb, little involvement in the Japanese theater, among other things) basically bullies Truman, SecState Byrnes, et al into accepting proportionally greater Soviet influence in the post-war make up of Europe (the greatest example of this would be the US abandoning Poland), just by being cantankerous.

Why would the comparatively stronger Truman accept such great Soviet influence? Because, Miscamble argues convincingly, he made the strategic decision to continue FDR's approach of emphasizing cooperation, even when it was against US-strategic interest, with the Soviets above all else.

The parallels are, of course, by no means exact, but they do merit mention.

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kungpao said...

Muito obrigado rodrigo.

Stalin had no A-Bomb, but 3 Million soldiers in Europe and the leverage of 20 Million WWII casualties caused by fighting on the Eastern Front. A-bomb or no A-bomb, a tough place to argue.

kungpao said...

BTW I pulled the number 3 million out of my ass. I know he had a lot more than we did there.

kungpao said...

In retrospect, sure- we should have been firmer and the world would have been a better place. But I also think that at the time few people really understood the nature of Soviet Communism.

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You're right that not many understood Communism at the time... One of this book's arguments is that Truman didn't understand it, and didn't pay heed to the few warnings he had (ie, the Long Telegram, various envoys), and was advised by Russofiles like Joseph Davies.

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Anonymous said...

Ok i don't think your getting it. Putin is pretty much destroying bad Soviet history to glorify the past. He is is using the current Russian president as his puppet. There's a new Stalin for ya

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