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USDiplomaticHistoryPaper - Gregory Arnold HIST 2340-US...

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Gregory Arnold HIST 2340-US Diplomatic History after 1900 Professor Howard Best of What’s Around: Roosevelt and the Nature at Yalta The destructiveness of World War II ravaged the world for six years, and saw millions of lives ended at the hands of more horrific and brutally weapons than any had ever seen. But the war could not last forever, and by early February 1945, the “Big Three” Allied Powers were again meeting to discuss their plans for a postwar world. However, unlike previous conferences between the Allies, this conference would go down in history for the controversies that emerged from its decisions and compromises. This conference was the Yalta Conference, and it has become an argument among many circles that President Franklin Roosevelt “sold out” to Soviet General Secretary Josef Stalin, and ultimately gave away Eastern Europe and Northeast Asia to the “Red menace.” But is this true? Given the situation that the Allies found themselves in, both through their engagement with the war, and the preexisting geopolitical nature of Eastern Europe, Roosevelt did not “sell out” to the Soviets, but instead negotiated terms with his ally that, given the then present situation, were the best that anyone could hope for. The Yalta Conference lasted from February 4-11, 1945, and was devised to work out the fate of postwar Europe between the United States, United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. 1 Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin all went into Yalta with goals for the postwar world, with the Western Allies and the USSR often conflicting over issues of political influence and alignment. Indeed, over the course of the conference, two particular issues would become the background of most controversies surrounding the conference: 1. The fate of Poland and Eastern Europe 1Athan G. Theoharis, The Yalta Myths (Columbia: University of Missouri Press), 11
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2. Soviet involvement in the Far Eastern and Pacific theater 2 Within five years, the US was fighting a war against communists in Korea and was faced with an “Iron Curtain” dividing the country between democratic West and communist East. In this atmosphere, there were those who accused Roosevelt of weakness in the face of the Soviets, and how his inability to earn a settlement that was good for US interests had led to these issues. 3,4 According to Winston Churchill, “Poland was discussed at no fewer than seven out of the eight plenary meetings of the Yalta Conference, and the British record contains an interchange on this topic of nearly eighteen thousand words between Stalin, Roosevelt, and myself.” 5 Indeed, Poland, and the other countries of Eastern Europe, had borne the brunt of the Nazi invasion and, by the time of the Yalta conference, the countries of Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, Hungary, Poland, and the Baltic states were now occupied by the USSR. 6 And naturally, the fate of these states was a pressing concern at the Yalta Conference. Over the course of said conference, the Allies and the Soviets attempted to negotiate the fate of these states. Officially,
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