60 years ago today FDR, Churchill and Stalin finished their last summit at Yalta which laid the foundation for world politics for the next half-century. As historian Arthur Herman writes:
Happily, two parts of Yalta's legacy — the Cold War and a Russian empire in Eastern Europe — are already history. But we are still haunted by the rest, from the prison camps of North Korea to a discredited United Nations, and the diplomatic fallacies that spawned them.
These fallacies are held as gospel by the American left and much of old Europe.
1. Collective security is more important than democracy and human rights
2. Multilateral bodies can generate common purpose among nations with conflicting interests
3. America's best postwar ally must be Europe
I grew up as one of the last children of the Cold War. [To my sister-in-law, born ten years later, Vietnam is just a place.] I was a Bismarck-admiring realpolitiker who was quite pleasantly stunned when the Soviet Empire crumbled. While the Soviet empire existed and was a threat rightist thugs were clearly the lesser of two evils and supporting them was necessary in a strategy of containment or rollback.
But times change as Victor Davis Hanson notes in his column today (at the NRO and linked by the Monk below) and ignoring democracy and human rights indeed threatens our collective security. We will need to see totalitarianism completely defeated (e.g., the Chinese) before multilateralism will have any chance. And events have shown that our best allies are likely to remain like-minded Anglophilic democracies and the newly freed Eastern Europeans than most of the increasingly decrepit states that make up the 'core' EU.
The success of President Bush's vision, as Herman notes, requires the final dismantling of the obsolete ideas and structures spawned at Yalta.