The Test of Yalta

The big three at the Yalta Conference, 1945.

A MERICANS, indulging their taste for self-criticism, are much given to writing and reading discussions of the effect of their foreign policy on other peoples. The journalist or critic who wishes to arouse an American audience can always attract attention by remarking that this or that aspect of our policy is costing us friends abroad. We are used to hearing that in one way or another words and actions are endangering what Wendell Willkie called our "reservoir of good will," and we attach importance to such charges.

If the leaders of Soviet Russia have a similar habit, there is no record of it, and we therefore have from Russian sources no proper study of one of the most remarkable achievements of recent years -- the way in which the leaders of Soviet Russia have contrived to lose friends and alienate people, especially Americans. Yet the topic is not without importance, particularly at the present time, when there is talk of a change in Soviet policy, or at least in Soviet tactics. From the western point of view, of course, the story of events since 1945 is familiar, but for this very reason it may perhaps be profitably reviewed once again now. Sometimes the most prominent part of a familiar landscape is the very aspect which ceases to be remarked upon, or even noticed. And the fact is that the landmark of Russian-American friendship in 1945 -- the terms of the Yalta Agreement -- remains no less prominently a point of reference for American-Soviet hostility in 1949 and for any present estimate of real Soviet intentions.

It is not easy, in these days of charge and countercharge, in which the Communists and many of their opponents have exhausted substantial stockpiles of epithets, to recall the state of mind of the west at the time of Yalta. In the early spring of 1945 no nation had more friends abroad than Soviet Russia; not Communists alone, but ordinary men everywhere were eager to find cause for confidence in

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