How Yalta shaped the post-war world
- One is to be operationally serious: take care when negotiating documents based on general language of principles, like Yalta’s Declaration of Liberated Europe, with a leader who shares neither your values nor your underlying purposes. ….
- Another is be realistic about relative strength, especially in the short term: in its World War Two aims, the United States allowed a gap to develop between its principles and power on the ground. At Yalta, that gap left the United States without good options; it relied on rhetoric and hope instead. Yalta’s reputation for failed aspirations and naïve (or worse) retreat reflect the baleful consequences of doing so.
- A third lesson is that core values may have more viability than it seems, especially in the long term: for two generations after 1945, foreign policy professionals and scholars concluded that Roosevelt’s weak defense of Poland at and immediately after Yalta was pointless (or cynical) and that the principles of the Atlantic Charter were inapplicable east of the Iron Curtain. Soviet domination there, it was implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) accepted, was forever. But it turned out otherwise. ….