Kindness & Kings
The primary British-American antagonism lay be-
hind Yalta's consideration of a number of countries.
The references to France at Yalta, and indeed all
Allied politics with regard to France; can be under-
stood only within this framework.
THE FRENCH STAKES
From the beginning Britain took De Gaulle under
its wing, as the British channel for the (hoped-for)
domination of France and the Continent. Washington;
on the other hand, continued to recognize Vichy as the
.legitimate government of France, and- kept this up as
long as possible.
Till well into 1944 Roosevelt insisted on regarding
De Gaulle as simply an adjunct to Britain's forces,
without according him recognitiorr as representing
".France'' This stand naturally enabled the-Americans
to demagogically.play the democrats at first by insist-
ing that France had no political voice till the French
people could freely elect one.
It is, for. this reason, seeking a counterweight to
Britain's De Gaulle, that Roosevelt went in for the
reactionary game of recognizing- .
the Giraud-Darlan pro-fascists,
Vichyite turncoats, in French
North Africa—though the stench
that this produced forced him to
In connection with this tug-of-
war over the prostrate body of
France,.Eisenhower has a tale to
tattle on Roosevelt, in his Crusade
for Europe, as he relates his con-
versations with Roosevelt in Casa-
blanca in 1943.
"He [Roosevelt] speculated
at length on the possibility of
France's regaining her ancient
position of prestige and power
in Europe and on this point was
very pessimistic. As a conse-
quence, his mind was wrestling
with the questions of methods for controlling cer-
tain strategic points in the French Empire which
he felt that the country might no longer be able to
Hold." (P. 136.) .
For Eisenhower, this is, a. remarkablyforthright way
of stating that. Roosevelt was plotting how to take over
the French Empire. No doubt!
The circumspect Eisenhower twists the knife on his
next page, even indicating documentary evidence in a
footnote to validate his accusation:
“I found; that the President, in his consideration
of current African- problems; did not .always dis-
tinguish clearly between the military occupation of
enemy territory and the situationin which we found
ourselves in North Africa. He constantly referred
to plans and proposals affecting the local popula-
tion, the French army, and governmental officials
in terms of orders, instructions, and compulsion. It
was necessary to remind him that, far from gov-
erning a conquered country, we were attempting
only to force a gradual widening of the base of gov-
eminent, with the final objective of turning all in-
ternal affairs over to, popular control. He, of course,
agreed... but he . nevertheless continued, perhaps
subconsciously, to discuss local problems from the
viewpoint of a conqueror." .
Roosevelt certainly was in a hurry to take over. This
is the background for his attitude on France in connec-
tion with Yalta.
Thus, in the above-mentioned private talk with Stalin
where Roosevelt wanted to tell him "something indis-
creet," the carefully planned indiscretion was the state-
"...that the British for two years have had the
idea of artificially building-up France into a strong
power which would have 200,000 troops on the east-
ern border of France to hold the line for the period
required to assemble a strong British army. He said
the British were a peculiar people and wished to
have their cake and eat it too."
Roosevelt on the contrary only wanted to eat, to tear
down France into minor vassalage so as to reduce
Britain's counter-strength and subordinate both to the
Big One. He knew that Stalin would not object to vacu-
ums created in Europe.
We have already mentioned Roosevelt's idea of
disengaging France's claw on Indochina, mentioned to
Stalin in one of the private confabs. At his meeting
with the U. S. delegation on Feb. 4, Roosevelt also men-
tioned that "He had no objection to any U. S. action
... in Indochina as long as it did not involve any align-
ments with the French."
In one seance with Stalin, Roosevelt laughed at De
Gaulle's penchant for comparing
himself with Joan of Arc. At the
plenary sessions Churchill persist-
ed in hammering for giving France
an occupation zone of its own in
Germany, plus membership on the
Control Commission. At first
Roosevelt would go along only with
the first part. When Stalin pri-
vately asked him why even that
much, Roosevelt answered "it was
only out of kindness." Stalin and
Molotov vigorously agreed. (Inci-
dentally, Byrrnes, whether by sim-
ple mistake or out of diplomacy,
ascribes this remark about kind-
ness- to Molotov!) But before the
conference closed Roosevelt con-
ceded the rest of the proposition byrnes
to Churchill, and Stalin thereupon
immediately assented too.
Roosevelt's drive for a weak France on an atomized
Continent is an integral part of the world strategy that
produced Yalta. So kind, so good, so pure.
THE THREE KINGS
The conference is drawing to a close. The overlords
of the world are at dinner:
"Marshal Stalin then said he thought more time
was needed to consider and finish the business of the
"The President answered that he had three kings
waiting for him in the Near East, including lbn
We would like to write stage directions for this
dialogue. "I've got three kings waiting for me," he says
over the soup course, and rolls it on his tongue. Not
necessarily in snobbishness or vainglory, just properly
conscious of an overlord's power. The words should not
be read off with special emphasis; they must be tossed
out casually, as if saying, "Sorry, can't stay, I've got
to catch a train."
The three kings in his hand, with whom he had to
deal, were Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, Haile Selassie cf
Ethiopia and Farouk of Egypt. Another side of this
tale was later told by Hopkins. Roosevelt had dropped
the "three kings" on the table before a dinnertableful.
Churchill had to rein in his curiosity and suspicions.
.''Later that night," Hopkins narrates, "he, Chur
chill, sought me out, greatly disturbed and wanted to
know what were the President's intentions in relation
to these three sovereigns." Hopkins assured the wor-
ried p.rime minister that it was just "a lot of horse
play," social stuff.
"Nothing I said, however, was comforting to
Churchill because he thought we had some deep-laid
plot to undermine the British Empire in these
areas. The next day the Prime Minister told the
President that he was also going into Egypt after
a brief visit to Greece and see each of these sover-
eigns himself, and had already sent the messages
asking them to remain in Egypt for conferences
with him immediately after the President had left."
(Sherwood, p. 871.)
The aura that surrounds this incident, more amusing
than important though it is, tells more about the poli-
tics at Yalta than yards of published commentary.
What was .Churchill so worried about, that he trailed
in a.royal flush, after Roosevelt and the three kings?
Plenty. Ethiopia was the- least important; but it is
worth mentioning that. during. the war Britain was
making. valiant efforts to separate the Negus from some
of his territory; in favor of adjoining British Somali
land. He could do without Roosevelt getti ng into that
Britain's appi'ehensions about Egypt, of course, are
apparent in view of subsequent history.
As, for Ibn Saud, here was the most acute .danger.
Early in 1944 the American government, had negoti-
ated a deal: $25 million to Sauxii Arabia.for oilconces-
sions to be tu rned over to Standard-Oil -and-Texas. Oil;
the U. S. to spend $100 million to build a pipeline, for
the companies; finally, the- U. S to buy the oil at a-
price higher than oil on the domestic market; Where
did-this leave Britain in the area which had once'been,
Churchill, Vol. 6, tells a story that must be heart-
rending to all Churchillian true-born Englishmen, if
understood in this context. It seems on the surface to
be only a bit of Eastern color.
When Ibn Saud came aboard Churchill's ship, he
came bearing gifts to Churchill's party—magnificent
perfumes and gems, costly robes, etc. Churchill had pre-
pared gifts in return but he unexpectedly found him-
self so outclassed that he told the king that the real gift
was going to be a super-deluxe bulletproof auto. Chur-
chill explains that the Arab gifts, turned in by all the
Englishmen to the Treasury, later paid foi the special
auto. We need hardly add that no member of Churchill's
entourage was unaware of the financial source of the
expensive baubles that Ibn Saud was regally handing
out to the ex-imperialist overlords of the area, as if
to say, "Can you top this—you who have come trailing
Time heals all. Churchill's memoirs do not hint at
the gall that rises in the throat and chokes. It was a
fitting epilogue to Yalta. "
TRIANGLE IN IRAN
The smell of oil hung over Yalta in another connec-
tion—Iran. Here there was a three-way conflict, though
it had begun as part of the British-American war.
The British had long dominated Iranian Oil, but the
American "foot in the door" was moving in. A large
number of American advisers to the government were
at large in the country: Millspaugh as Administrator-
General of Finance; A. B. Black for agrarian reform;
Maj;-Gen. Ridley plus an officer staff for the Iranian
army; and many others who were doing London no
Over a year before Yalta, Socony-Standard and
Vacuum (American) and Shell (British) had both
tried to get the Iranian government to give them con-
cessions along the Afghan and Baluchistan borders.
The cabinet, under nationalist pressure refused, or
anyway refused to choose, although the premier fa
vored a grant to one or the other.
Then the Russians decided to deal-themselves in (all
three allies had troops in the country). The Iranian
government said: No concessions to anyone till later.
Russia started a campaign of pressure to get the north-
ern oil fields; the Russian press denounced the govern-
ment violently; pro-Stalinist demonstrations were or-
ganized in Iran: Moscow's' Vice-Commissar of Foreign.
Affairs Kavtaradze threatened and stormed. The cabi-
net resigned in the crisis, under pressure.
Among the-Yalta papers is the report to Washington
by Harriman, ambassador in Moscow, made only three
weeks before the conference and thought important
enough to be immediately put on Roosevelt's desk for
his personal perusal. Harriman described the Russian
pressure on Iran and ominously mentioned.: “At the
height of the controversy Izvestio asserted that there
was no legal basis for the presence of American troops
in Iran.” After the fall of the cabinet, he concluded,
the pressure from the Kremlin relaxed "but the Soviets
made it clear that they did not intend to drop the
Iran was one question on which Eden succeeded in
caucusing with Stettinius at the Malta pre-conference;
In face of the Russian push, in this case the Americans
did agree to make a united front. The idea was to get
Russian agreement on postponing all oil concessions m
Iran till after the war.
It:never came to a head at Yalta because at the
Foreign Ministers' sessions, Molotov made it clear no
At the Feb. 8 session Eden inaugurated the question:
the Iranian government should be master in its own
house, “otherwise the Allies might find themselves in
cornpetitton in Iranian affairs.”The British had-no wish
to veto oil concessions for Russia, if and when; Stet-.
tinius chimed in with the same-reassurance.Molotov
gave no ground: Russia still wanted to."persuade" Iran
to change its mind; but he did say that “the-situation
was not acute at the present time”. In the-course of
talking, the record shows, he also said "Kavtaradze had-
returned and the strong-arm methods he had used have
But two days later, when Eden and Stettinius tried
to get him to join in any kind of
communique on Iran, Molotov did
his "bump on a log" act: No, noth-
ing to add.... No, no commitniqne:
... No, no reference to Iran what-
soever in any release.... The next
day at luncheon Stalin made a
swipe at Iran:- "any nation which
kept its oil in the ground and
would not let it be exploited was,
in fact, working against peace"
The issue of Iranian oil brings
us to the side of American policy
where the Russian Menace begun
to assume weight as a counterpoise to the British
Menace as we will see also in connection with Poland,
although it was not until after Potsdam that the for-
mer began to outbalance the latter. So at this point we
must turn attention from the western front, the British-
American war, to the eastern war, namely, the British-
Russian war,, which represents the other thread to be
disentangled from the Yalta record.
The Large Tick
As you read the Yalta papers published by the State
Department, you will find no important referance to
It was- nowihete on the Yalta agenda. The record
seems to show that at the plenary sessions there were
onliy a-conple of .passing remarks made about Greece
(though you also can't help noticing that these passing
remarks are downright mysterious). It would seem that
Greece played no role at Yalta.
You could not make a bigger mistake about Yalta.
The British-Russian war over Greece loomed big over
the conference. Tte impact on the conference is a vital
element in understanding the deal over Poland. To see
why, we have to go back.
To begin with, the British interest in Greece is one
of the world's most blatant examples of finance-capi-
talist imperiaiism. By the end of the Greek War of
Independence of 1821, Greece owed British bankers 515
million, though she had actually borrowed only one-
third of-that amount. Between 1825 and 1898, Greek
governments borrowed $400 million from London banks
(still getting only a fraction of this sum).
By 1945 all loans had been paid off sevenfold (inter-
est, carrying charges, etc.) but the entire face sum of
the debt was still owed to British-banks. Modern
Greece (up to 1935 figures anyway) had been setting
aside each year one-third of her total income for serv-
icing these loans. Even during the depression of the '30s
the British Shylocks forced Greece to pay in gold, al-
though they themselves were off the gold standard. The
money that the Greek government did receive from the
loans went largely into maintaining an army and navy
which served as a British adjunct. The poverty-stricken
people of Greece were slaveys and bondsmen of British
During the German occupation in World War II, of
course, it was Hitler who took his turn at plundering
and starving Greece. The British reinforced their
hoops of gold on the Greek government in exile. The
December 19 before Yalta, Chancellor of the Exchequer
Anderson announced in Parliament that the Greeks had
gotten $185 million in loans during the war plus an-
other $71 million in market loans. Not long before
Yalta, the: British Foreign Office presented the Greek
government with a memorandum calling on it to "safe-
guard the rights and securities enjoyed by external
loans and to protect the general interests of the bond-
holders" and "maintain unchanged the rights, privi-
leges and conditions of service which have applied to
the government loans since 1898."
But the Greek .government was not really in shape
to safeguard, protect or ensure anything in Greece,
least of all itself—against either the "liberating" Rus-
sian troops advancing down to the border from the
north, or against the internal ariti-Nazi resistance
movement which-was taking over control in Southern
Greece as the .German troops withdrew.
If Britain was going to preserve its golden goose in
Greece, it would have to do it itself. This, of course,
had been one strong factor behind the British desire
that the second front .should have been opened up
through the Balkan "underbelly."
A WORLD CLASSIC
In October1944 (this is four months before Yalta)
Churchill flew to Moscow to settle the matter. This is
the Moscow conference which we have already had
occasibn to mention in other connections. Churchill's
main concern, however, was Greece. He landed October
9; met Stalin. in conference the same evening; and
spread out his wares without beating about the- bush.
Here is Churchill's own unforgettable account—one
of the world's great classics:
"The moment was apt for business, so I said, 'Let.
us settle .about our affairs in the Balkans. Your
armies are in Roumania and Bulgaria. We have
interests, missions and agents there. Don't let us get
at cross-purposes in small ways. So far as Britain
and Russia are concerned, how would it do for you
to have 90.per cent predominance in Roumania, for
us to have 90. per cent of the say in Greece, and go
50-50 about Yugoslavia?' While this was being
translated I wrote out on a half-sheet of paper: .
The others ...;....;.......;...:....:....;..;....;.10%
Great Britain ..........:....;.;...;.......„......90%
(in accord with U.S.A.)
The others ..........................................25%
“I pushed this across to Stalin, who had by then
heard the translation. There was a slight pause.
Then, he took his blue pencil and made a large tick
upon it, and passed it back to us. It was all settled
in no more time than it takes to set down.. . .
After this there was a long silence. The penciled
paper lay in the center of the table. At length I said,
'Might it not be thought rather cynical if it seemed
we had disposed of these issues, so fateful to mil-
lions of people, in such an offhand manner? Let us
burn the paper.' “No, you keep it,' said Stalin."
Two days later, still at Moscow, Churchill included
the percentage figures on paper along with a note to
Stalin.... "As I said, they would be considered crude,
and even callous, if they were exposed to the scrutiny
of the Foreign Offices and diplomats all over the world.
Therefore they could not be the basis of any public
document, certainly not at the present time.” (P.
In a week British troops were landing in Southern-
Greece to take over. Thus began the British invasion
of the country.
Along. with British howitzers came the quislings.
King George (the samer British hireling who, before the
war, had replaced a democratically elected Greek gov-
ernment with, the fascist dictator Metaxas) and Pre-
mier Papandreou, the puppet leader of the "Liberal
A genuine national-revolutionary upsurge of the
Greek people answered in massive protest, if anything
held back by. the leadership of the Stalinist heads-of
the- EAM. (liberation movement) and ELAS (its mili- -
tary arm) For a whole period the Stalinist leadership
walked a tightrope between restraining or moderating
anti-British action on the one hand and retaining its
leadership of the angry masses on the other.
On Nov. 7, Churchill sent a memo to Eden: "In my
opinion, having paid the price we have to Russia for
freedom of action in Greece, we should not hesitate to
use British troops to support Papandreou." (Chur-
chill, Vol. 6, p. 250.) He hoped.troops would "not hesi-.
tate to shoot when necessary."
Open civil war began December 3; the police executed
a cold-blooded raachinegun massacre of an unarmed
demonstration of men, women and children. The cor-
respondent for the N. Y. Post and Overseas News
Agency cabled home: "without provocation." In his
book Churchill takes responsibility for the orders to
shoot: "It is no use doing things like this by halves."
He wired the British general: "Do not, however,
hesitate to act as if you were in a conquered city where
a local rebellion is in progress." He explains proudly
that he "had in mind Arthur Balfour's celebrated tele-
gram in the 80s to the British authorities in Ireland:
'Don't hesitate to shoot.'"
The whole world cried out in outrage against this
open, crude, brutal rape of a nation, which is not sur-
passed by any of Britain's previous crimes or by any
of Stalin's before or since. Churchill himself writes
that "the vast majority of the American press violently
condemned our action." In England even the London
Times as well as the Manchester Guardian pronounced
their censures. In Parliament the attack was led by
Acland, Bevan, Shinwell (the Attlee Laborite coalition-
ists stood with the assassins like a rock). But—
"Stalin, however, adhered strictly and faithfully
to our agreement of October, and during all the long
weeks of fighting the Communists in the streets.of
Athens not one word of reproach came from Pravda
We-have already seen that in this climate of shocked
world opinion, Stettinius made a statement to disso-
ciate the U. S. from the heinous crime, at least by im-
plication; even though at the very same time the U. S.
command in Italy was helping the British invasion of
Greece by sending planes. We have also seen that
Churchill was outraged by American hypocrisy. Sher-
wood says that about this time "he felt that another
Big Three conference must be held without a moment's
But in the last analysis it was Stalin who. saved
Churchill was absolutely convinced (and every.his-
torian must agree) that Moscow faithfully executed
its deal and did everything possible to quench the revo-
lutionary fire in Greece short of losing leadership of
the mass movement. Being no idiot, Churchill knew
why fighting still went on. In January he stated that
the. British troops were preventing a situation—
"... in which all forms of. government would have
been swept away, and naked, triumphant Trotsky-
ism installed. I think Trotskyism is a better defini-
tion of Greek Communism and certain other sects
than the normal word. It has the advantage of being
equally hated in Russia."
By "Trotskyism" he simply meant revolutionary
workers not subservient to Moscow. Trotskyist groups
were not in control. Churchill understood that Moscow
had to be.gingerly in putting on its straitjacket.
He also understood that, if even now the British
stake in Greece could be preserved only by the most
ruthless terror, even this terror would not serve were
the Kremlin to change the CP's signal from "all brakes
on" to "open up the throttle."
We have seen the stake that Greece represented for
this empire in decline. We have seen the blood that
Churchill unhesitatingly let spurt in order to save this
stake. We have seen the world-wide contumely that he
grimly faced in order to do his imperialist duty.
And therefore we have also seen the biggest single
reason why, chafing and dragging feet, Churchill found
it impossible at Yalta to dig his heels into the ground
and make a stand against the Russian rape of Poland.
Even Churchill, even he who acutely realized the dan-
ger of. Russian domination of the Continent, unlike the
U.-S. statesmen-who were pursuing their own imperials
ist business of chopping down Britain while Britain
was slicing off Greece.
It is this divided interest of the British watchdog of
empire which made it impossible for him to agree to
the Russian fate for Poland while at the same time he
was forced to tolerate what he knew was happening and
was going to happen.
THE MUTE DEAL
It was torn minds like this, on the part of the West-
ern side, which at Yalta was translated into the surface
ambiguity of the conference decisions—even though,
as we shall prove, neither Churchill nor-Roosevelt were
naive about what had been decided de facto.
On two occasions Stalin had to twist .Churchill's arm
for a reminder. These are the otherwise mysterious
references to Greece actually recorded.
At the 5th-plenary session, while the Polish question
was still sticking, Stalin suddenly inquired from Chur-.-
chill what was happening in. Greece. In reply Churchilf
mentioned the British trade-union delegation to Greece
[safe social-imperialists], said he had not yet seen,
their report but understood "that they had had rather
a rough time in Greece and they were very much
obliged to Marshal-Stalin for not having taken too
great an interest in Greek affairs. I thank the Marshal
for his help."
"I only wanted to know for information. We have no
intention of intervening there in any way," said Stalin.
At the 6th .plenum, Molotov made an amendment to
a conference document on liberated Europe, to the
effect that the Big Three would support those elements
which .had fought against the Nazis. The other 'Two'
opposed it, naturally understanding that it could only
be a legal cover for giving the Stalinist quislings in
East Europe official sanction. Molotov later withdrew
the amendment without fuss since it had been made in
the first place only to bare 'teeth in a warning snarl.
In the discussion on this amendment, Matthews* min-
utes capture a priceless vignette, a seemingly irrele-
vant interlude, which we reproduce textually:
"STALIN (to Churchill who was about to say
something): 'Are you worried about Greece?'
Churchill denied that he was feeling anxious.
Bohlen's minutes add: "Marshal Stalin said he thought
it would have been very dangerous if he had allowed
other forces than his own to go into Greece." (He may
have been referring to Tito's troops.)
And so the mute deal was consummated: a Greece
for a Poland. There were two sequels:
(1) On the day that the Yalta agreement was an-,
nounced, it was also announced to the world that the
ELAS Stalinist leaders had accepted a pact with the
Greek government to disarm its fighters.
(2) Reporting to Parliament in defense of the Yalta
sellout of Poland, Churchill made the connection as
openly as one has a right to expect:
"I felt bound to proclaim my confidence in Soviet
good faith in the hope of procuring it. In this I was
encouraged by Stalin's behavior about Greece."
Peace and Quiet
Coming nowdirectly to the Polish phase of the Yalta
agenda, we have.in effect already explained the politi-
cal motivations behind the sellout. But of course, it
may be objected that no sellout has yet been shown. In.
fact, do not the liberals and other Democrats insist on
the story that Roosevelt left Yalta convinced that Po-
land had been saved from the bear's clutches, that the
only trouble was that Russia later violated the agree-
ment, and that no.one could have known better at the
time, and that the outcries are being made today on
the basis of "20-20 hindsight"? Who could have known,
they ask? Should Roosevelt have irresponsibly broken
the precious Big Three unity simply out of suspicion?
It can be proved up to the hilt that-when Roosevelt
and Churchill left Yalta, they knew that Poland was:
a goner. There is room here only to summarize the
evidence. The point involved is not simply to impugn the
sincerity of their protestations, for we have-already
seen more than.enough reason not to worry about the
publie sincerity or morality of these gentlemen, but to
exhibit the political meaning of the Yalta deal which
is only obscured by the liberal myth.
To be sure, it is not decisive merely to point out that
Roosevelt had no right to have any illusions about
Russia's intentions for Poland: He was dealing with
the brigands who had already joined in the ravishment
of Poland in alliance with Hitler! If that is considered
water under the bridge, then we must point out that by
the time of Yalta the Stalinist totalitarian terror in
Poland was in full swing and known to the whole world.
If we were merely to list the already known acts of-
forceful suppression and purging of all opponents, in-
cluding even (already!) the purging of the first Stalin-
ists, there are few people who would seriously consider
the theory that adult statesmen could keep blinding
themselves to the obvious. The month before Yalta, the
Moscow embassy (Harriman) had sent in an adequate
report on the Polish terror.
Was Roosevelt really naive about this? In a Roose-
velt memo to Stettinius dated Sept. 29, 1944, we read
the following realistic statement of his attitude:
"In regard to the Soviet government, it is true
that we have no idea as yet what they have in mind,
but we have to remember that in their occupied ter-
ritory they will do more or less what they wish. We
cannot affords to get into a position of merely re-
cording protests on our part unless there is a chance
of some of the protests being heeded." . .
This is a statement of 'Roosevelt's strategy of not
fighting Russian demands on East Europe, in the name
of that hallowed Big Three unity which was necessary
to organize the world. Should the Polish people be so
narrowminded and parochial as to get in the way of
this glorious objective?
Surely Stalin left him with little reason to misunder-
stand at Yalta. At the 3rd plenum, Stalin made his
long speech on the subject, including: .
"Now as a military man I must say what I de-
mand of a country liberated by the Red Army. First,
there should be peace and quiet in the wake of the
army. . . . When I compare the agents of both gov-
ernments I find that the Lublin ones are useful and
the others the contrary. The military must have
peace and quiet. The military will support such a
government and I cannot do otherwise. Such is the
How much more brutal did Stalin have to get before
he could be sure that Roosevelt understood?
Moreover, in advance of Yalta the State Department
had already conceded the following in black on white
in its own Briefing Book: that the U. S. "probably
would not oppose predominant Soviet influence in the
area" but wished that American influence not be "com-
pletely nullified." The latter phrase was spelled out to
include "some degree" of commercial and financial
access to the Polish economy.
After Yalta, Leahy writes, "Personally I did not be-
lieve that the dominating Soviet influence could be ex-
cluded from Poland, but I did not think it was possible
to give to a reorganized Polish government an external
appearance of independence." (P. 352.) Isn't that
Leahy tesitfies that he told Roosevelt at Yalta, "Mr.
President this [agreement on Poland] is so elastic that
the Russians can stretch it all the way from Yalta to
Washington without ever technically breaking it."
Roosevelt replied: "I know, Bill—I know it. But it's the
best I can do for Poland at this time." (P. 315-6.)
Leahy may be charged with predating hindsight, but he
cannot be charged with trying to smear Roosevelt by
.After the agreement was made, the Yalta record has
Churchill saying painfully:
"CHURCHILL: Wants to say declaration] re
Pol [and] will be very heavily attacked in Eng. It
will be said we have yielded completely on the fron-
tiers and the whole matter to R[ussia]----However
I will defend it to the best of my ability."
It does not sound like a man who believes he has
saved Poland. He sounds like the beaten man he was.
No different impression emerges from Churchill's re-
port to Parliament where he tried.to defend it "to the
hest of my ability." I refuse to discuss Russian good
faith, he said. It is a mistake to look too far ahead, he
said! What is democracy after all, he asked! ...He does
not sound like a naive man.
THE FIGHT THAT WASN'T MADE
It is possible to document the charge that Churchill
and Roosevelt never even tried to fight for the pro-
posals which they themselves thought were vital to
assure Poland's independence.
At the October Moscow conference, Churchill had
laid down a sine qua non:
"After the Kremlin dinner we put it bluntly to
Stalin that unless Mikolajczyk had 50-50 plus him-
self, the Western World Would not be convinced
that the transaction was bona fide and would, not
believe that an independent Polish government had
been set up." (To Roosevelt. Churchill, Vol. 6
This proposal sine qua turn was never even breathed
The State Department's pre-Yalta Briefing Book
said that in order to achieve free elections in Poland,
we should sponsor United Nations arrangements for
their supervision." This proposal was never even
breathed at Yalta.
At Yalta itself, alter the 1st plenum, Churchill wired
Attlee: "If it can be so arranged that 8 or 10 of these
]non-Stalinist Poles] are included in the Lublin gov-
ernment it would be to our advantage to recognize this
government at once." '(Churchill, Vol. 6, p. 328.) But
the record shows that neither he nor Roosevelt ever
proposed adding that number of non-Stalinists!
The record does show that the U. S. did put forward
a proposal to replace the Polish president with a "pres-
idential committee" of three. The record also shows
that it never fought for this proposal, which the Rus-
sians rejected immediately, and quickly abandoned it.
After Yalta, the State Department soothed Polish
Ambassador Ciechanowski with the claim that the U. S.
would insist on a new Polish government that was
"equally balanced." (Cieckanouski, p. 361.) This was
a falsehood; it had never been mentioned at Yalta.
Stettinius' book on Yalta is a straight apologia, but
he admits: "As a result of this military situation, it
was not a question of what Great Britain and the U. S.
would permit Russia to do in Poland, but what the two
countries could persuade the Soviet Union to accept."
What then was the bargaining at Yalta about? It is
as plain as an oversize pikestaff that the Two were
holding out for the best possible window-dressing for
what they knew was a foregone conclusion.
It took the form mainly of a prolonged higgle-haggle
over the wording of the agreement on the Polish^-gov-
ernment which all were to recognize. It boiled down to
this: the Russians held out for wording which meant
a mere reorganization based on the present Lublin gov-
ernment, with non-Stalinists added, while Britain held
out for wording which would imply that a brand-new
government was being set up; and Roosevelt mainly re-
minded them both that only terminology was involved
and they ought to get together. That is all, absolutely
all. that the main disagreement amounted to. The final
text used some language ("new situation," "new gov-
ernment") that the British might be able to use, while
it clearly defined the government in the Russian terms
(the Lublin government "reorganized on a broader
democratic basis . . ."). Churchill won another hunk of
window-dressing when Stalin finally agreed that Miko-
lajczyk would be defined as "non-fascist" and permitted
to participate in the government!
.The strange thing is that the Yalta record quotes
Churchill himself as referring to the window-dressing
character of the dispute: "He said this might be an
ornament, but nevertheless an important ornament."
And here, of course, we also have the significance of
Roosevelt's repeated appeals to Stalin to keep in mind
the Polish-American vote. (At the 3r.d plenum, Roose-
velt used this apropos of his request to Stalin to make
a deviation from the Curzon line: "There- are 6 or 7
million Poles in the U. S----Most Poles, like the Chi-
nese, want to save face.... It would make it easier for
me at home if the Soviet government would give some-
thing to Poland.")
It was at the 6th plenum that Roosevelt made his
appeal for a "gesture" on the government-composition
question to appease the Poles back home:
"He said he felt it was very important for him
in the U. S. that there be some gesture made for
the 6 million Poles there, indicating that the U. S.
was in some way involved with the question of free-
dom of elections.... He repeated that he felt, how-
ever, that it was only a matter of words and
- details. . . ."
No, the facts leave no doubt as to the nature of the
Yalta bargaining on the Polish question. Sellout is a
dirty word, to be sure. Anyone has a right to argue
that Roosevelt and Churchill were justified in selling
out—pardon, neglecting Poland's rights in order to
achieve more important ends labeled "Big Three unity,"
like Big Three unity on the rape of Greece, like Big
Three unity on dividing Rumania 90-10, like Big Three
unity on the suppression of smalt nations and colonies.
But no one has the right any longer to take seriously
the myth that Roosevelt and Churchill were country
boys who bought a Polish goldbrick from the Moscow
"They played excellent music and carried strange-
looking banners, the meaning of which was not ap-
parent to me."
Thus Leahy described the Russian band that met the
Roosevelt party when they landed for the Yalta con-
ference. You can take this as the symbol of Yalta.
We wrote above that Roosevelt and Churchill were
not, deceived about the meaning of the Polish deal. But
no one can defend Roosevelt from the charge of being
taken for .a ride if, paradoxically, the charge is only
made broad enough. He was not taken in on Poland, but
he was taken in on the struggle for the world.
One of the eeriest scenes in the Yalta record is not
from the recent publication but from Churchill, who
records a toast made by Stalin on the evening,of Feb. 8,
when many a toast was drunk, although Byrnes sus-
pected Vishinsky of watering his vodka.
It is hard to say whether Stalin was getting a bit
maudlin or whether it was just his usual style. (Chur-
chill remarks: "1 had never suspected that he could
be so expansive.") Stalin began:
"I am talking as an old man; that is why I am
talking so much. But I want to drink to our alliance.
...[How wonderfully intimate it is!]...I know
that some circles will regard this remark as naive.
In an alliance the allies should not deceive each
other. Perhaps that is naive? Experienced diplo-
matists may say, 'Why should I not deceive my
ally?' But I as a naive man think it best not to
deceive my ally, even if he is a fool. . . ."
"Even if he is a fool...."! Anyone acquainted with
Stalin's mode of thought and-style cannot avoid feeling
that at this strange moment, standing knowingly on
the verge of power such as few conquerors have wield-
ed over the world, the old butcher could no longer con-
tain the chortling contempt for his allies that slipped
He was not unjustified. It is true that he happily
faced a whole stratum of American policy-makers (bi-
partisan in makeup) who were so intent on inheriting
the British Empire that they could not see what was
happening in the world. It is true that the Americans
undoubtedly told themselves that Russia, bled white by
Germany, would be near-prostrate after the war and
could not offer a serious menace to the U. S. For they
viewed Russia solely as just another imperialist power,
like any other, understanding no more than America's
rulers do today that Stalinism's weapons against the.
old capitalist societies are not primarily military, the
military being auxiliary to the political dynamism of
its anti-capitalist appeal.
And if Roosevelt and the U. S. delegation were really
exultant after Yalta, as Sherwood states, it was be-
cause they were wallowing in the conception that they
had succeeded in forging a "Big Three unity" that
could organize the whole world under its suzerainty,
while the United States colossus of wealth and power
would be the arbiter of the Three, precisely the role
which Roosevelt systematically and deliberately* sought
to play at Yalta. To shoot at this status of Chairman
of the Board of Earth, Inc., the U. S. could not do
without "Big Three unity." And so they had to believe
that it was also possible; that is, that it was possible
to achieve a "normal" imperialist relationship with the
imperialist rival Russia as with the imperialist rival
Britain, within the "normal"' framework of power poli-
tics, registering the existing relationship of forces.
A "normal" imperialist relation with Stalinist Rus-
sia? We have a term for it today. It means exactly the
same as the famous "peaceful coexistence." The GOP
dinosaurs—who are against "peaceful coexistence" on
reactionary grounds, i.e., because they want a more
warlike policy against Russia—are well advised from
their standpoint to make Yalta their cussword.
THE SOIL WAS THIRSTY
But there was no pro-Stalinism or treason* at Yalta.
The basic fact is that'always, in whatever form, the
bourgeois statesmen know only the choice between at-
tempting an imperialist peace with rivals. (Yalta)-or
drifting or driving toward imperialist war with rivals
And in.either case the American would-be rulers of
the declining capitalist world have shown the political
stigmata of declining ruling classes: disorientation,
and blindness, which often look like stupidity, and
Before Yalta, this meant they had not the slightest
understanding of what Stalinism is, and they still
haven't, though they have painfully learned by the con-
tusions on their rear that it is at any rate an irrecon-
cilable1 enemy of capitalism.
In the Second World War climate of American pow-
er politics, there was a whole generation; of liberals
and others who were sitting-ducks for the Stalinists'
planned, campaign to convince the Americans that they
were on their way back to capitalism like respectable-
folk. According to Cieckaneioski (p. 249) Stalin utilised-
the Teheran conference to fill up Roosevelt with such
a load of this suckerbait that the latter exuded it.from
his pores. And everyone knows Roosevelt's reference at
Yalta to the Chinese Stalinists as "the so-called Com-
munists." Just before Yalta, Molotov had (confiden-
tially!) disclosed to Hurley that "Russians are not
supporting Chinese Communists who are not. Commu-
nists at all"; Hurley had rushed, to send this revela-
tion to Washington, whence Roosevelt had already left;
Washington hurled the sensation via the ether to Roose-
velt at Yalta, who got the glad tidings on Feb. 5.
All this required no "conspiracy" in the 'McCarthy-
Knowland sense; the political soil was thirsty for it.
American imperialism, with its world strategy, needed
a rationale, a theory, that made room for its version
of "Big Three unity," And if the actual elaboration of
this theory was a friendly collaboration of good patri-
ots and good Stalinoids, the details of its creation are
of secondary interest.
Today the right wing of American imperialism is
pushing toward another war, this time (they think)
really to settle the matter of world domination. And
the liberals, who today have no more idea than they
ever had of how to counterpose a democratic foreign
policy to the Truman-Eisenhower policy of imperial-
ism, cannot understand the nature of this imperialism
they support even when it is practically spelled out for
them by he men who divided up the world at Yalta.
It is a psychological as well as a political fact; only
those who are ready to struggle against them are ready
to understand, down to the bottom, the nature of the
rival imperialist camps that are battling for the right
to exploit the world, capitalist and Stalinist imperial-
Only those who look to the victory of a third camp,
opposed to both imperialisms, can afford to dissect, and
not whitewash, the cynical crimes of the rulers on both
sides of the cold war.