Leftists love to list all the horrible dictators supported by the United States. However, most of those leftists ignore the worst tyrant America supported: Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
Moreover, the same leftists who complain about US support for Cold War tyrants refuse to examine an earlier American President’s troublesome relationship with Stalin. Instead, the left leaves America’s repugnant relationship with Stalin out of its history.
Oddly, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (D-New York) World War II partnership with Stalin was the template for America’s Cold War alliance with many dictators and oppressive regimes. When Presidents such as Dwight D. Eisenhower (R-Kansas), John F. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), Lyndon B. Johnson (D-Texas), Richard M. Nixon (R-California), Jimmy Carter (D-Georgia) and Ronald Reagan (R-California) allied with dictators they were imitating FDR.
America’s Worst Ally Joseph Stalin
By far, Stalin was the worst dictator America ever got close to. The Great Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn estimates Stalin’s body count at 60 million people.
Stalin’s crimes include: three to 12 million people starved to death in the Ukrainian famine called the Holodomor. Historians regard the Holodomor as genocide because Stalin deliberately engineered it.
Other highlights of Stalin’s evil include: one million people imprisoned in the late 1920s, nine to 11 million peasants forced of their lands, two to three million peasants imprisoned in the Gulag, one million people murdered in the Great Terror of 1937-1938, four to six million people deported to the Gulag in the 1930s, and the deportation of 10 to 12 million during World War II.
Stalin’s crimes were widely reported in the media in the 1930s and 1940s. Any American newspaper reader in the 1930s understood that Stalin was a murderer, a tyrant, and a psychopath.
Indeed, most leftists 1939 when Stalin horrified most leftists by forming a close alliance with Adolph Hitler in the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Under the pact, Stalin’s armies occupied half of Poland and began committing atrocities against the Polish People.
Stalin also used the Nazi-Soviet Pact to conquer three independent countries; Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, and make them Soviet colonies. Additionally, Stalin launched a needles war on an independent democratic country Finland shortly after the Nazi-Soviet Pact.
FDR and Stalin
Yet Franklin D. Roosevelt regarded Stalin as a friend and an ally. In fact, the relationship between FDR and was closer than any of the Cold War alliances between US presidents and dictators.
Roosevelt, for example, made two trips across the world to visit Stalin at Tehran and Yalta. Yet FDR failed to make a single wartime visit to the United Kingdom to support the British people or the millions of American military personnel there.
In contrast, FDR and Stalin’s Big Three partner Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill regularly visited British troops in the field. In fact, King George VI had to talk Churchill out of visiting the beaches on D-Day.
Disgustingly, FDR refused to visit American servicemen were about to risk their lives for democracy. Yet the President went out of his way to visit Stalin.
The argument that FDR stayed away from England in World II for safety is suspect. Tehran, where FDR met Stalin in 1943, was just as dangerous. In fact, German commandos were in Iran with orders to kill the Big Three in 1943. Soviet intelligence foiled the plot, but it raises the question why was FDR willing to risk his life to meet with Stalin but not America’s GIs, the British people, or King George VI?
Strangely, it is unclear what FDR accomplished with his meetings with Stalin beyond blackening America’s reputation. There was nothing said between FDR and Stalin that another US official could not have said to Stalin at the Kremlin.
The meetings did not produce a peaceful post-war world. Instead, Stalin launched the Cold War right after victory in 1945.
Indeed, FDR could have avoided the public relations nightmare of a sitting US president getting chummy with one of history’s worst mass murderers by sending somebody else to meet with Stalin. An ideal choice could have been former President Herbert Hoover (R-California) who was doing nothing during World War II. Hoover was prestigious enough to impress Stalin but easy to ignore.
Yes, Hoover was a Republican, but FDR appointed a Republican Henry L. Stimson, Hoover’s secretary of State, his Secretary of War (Defense). Thus, FDR was working closely with Republicans.
Nor was a presidential meeting necessary to keep Stalin in the war. Stalin had no choice to but to ally with the United States because America’s industry was supplying his armies.
How America Saved Stalin from Hitler
Without American help, the Nazis could have conquered the Soviet Union.
“The most important things in this war are the machines,” Stalin himself admitted. “The United States is a country of machines. Without the machines we received through Lend-Lease, we would have lost the war.”
The machines America sent to Russia during World War II included: over 400,000 jeeps and tanks, 8,000 tractors and construction vehicles, 2,000 locomotives, 14,000 aircraft, and 13,000 tanks. In addition, the United States and the British Empire supplied the Soviet Union with 55% of the aluminum and over 80% of the copper its industry used in World War II.
In fact, American factories made the boots Red Army soldiers wore. The United States sent 15 million pairs of boots to Russia in World War II.
Nor was just boots, America supplied the Red Army with 1.5 million blankets.Other materials provided through the Lend-Lease program included over 35,000 radio sets and 32,000 motorcycles.
Soviet Victory Made in the USA
In World War II, Russia’s transportation system would have collapsed without American help. The United States supplied half the rails Russian trains ran on during the war.
Moreover, Stalin could not have kept his air force supplying without America; around 57% of Russia’s aviation fuel came from the United States. Plus, the Red Army could have run out of ammunition without Lend-Lease around one third of the explosives Russia used in World War II came from North America.
The Lend Lease Aid to Russia in World War II is excusable. The Red Army kept millions of German soldiers tied down and killed around 5.3 million Germans. Indeed, it is improbable that the Americans and British could have won in North Africa, Italy, or on D-Day had Hitler been able to redeploy the armies from the Russian front.
Lend-Lease probably saved millions of American, British, and Canadian lives by keeping the Red Army fighting. Yet, Lend Lease began in 1941, two years before FDR’s first meeting with Stalin at Tehran in 1943. Hence, no FDR Stalin meeting was necessary.
Yes, Stalin was the Worst Dictator America Backed
In the final analysis, Stalin is the worst of all the dictators America has backed with direct aid.
Historians’ low estimate for the number for Stalin’s body count is 20 million. In contrast, Spanish dictator Francisco Franco; one of the left’s favorite bogeymen, killed between 100,000 and 200,000 people in his White Terror.
Franco was a monster;. In 1940 Franco’s terror horrified SS leader Heinrich Himmler, the architect of the Holocaust. Franco’s methods reportedly disturbed Himmler while on a visit to Madrid in 1940. However, Franco was a small time compared to Stalin.
Notably, another American-supported monster leftists love to condemn, Chile’s General Augusto Pinochet killed around 40,018 people. Yes, Pinochet and Franco were monsters, but they were small monsters whose crimes were tiny compared to Stalin’s.
Moreover, neither Pinochet nor Franco launched a war of aggression, or invaded another country and overthrew its government as Stalin did. Strangely, both Pinochet and Franco’s regimes were peaceful in their relationships with other nations. In contrast, Stalin was a threat to all the USSR’s neighbors.
Presidents and Dictators
Nor did either Franco or Pinochet enjoy the buddy/buddy relationship with American presidents that Stalin enjoyed with FDR. The Presidents who came after FDR kept dictators at arm’s length, possibly out of fear of repeating FDR’s mistakes with Stalin.
In the late 1940s, some American anticommunists accused FDR, falsely, of selling Eastern Europe to Stalin at the Yalta Conference. Consequently, presidents feared being seen as too close to any dictator, after 1945.
For instance, many American conservatives criticized Richard M. Nixon’s historic meeting with China’s Mao Zedong in 1972. Not surprisingly, Nixon’s successors downplayed their meetings with Chinese leaders. Ironically, the argument that Communist China could serve as an ally against the Soviet Union rang hollow to many American anticommunists.
The closest any postwar President came to developing a close relationship with a dictator was Ronald Reagan, who developed a pleasant working relationship with Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev. However, Gorbachev was a weak reformer who was going out of his way not to look like a Communist.
In the final analysis, America’s World War II support for Russia was a smart strategy. However, FDR’s close relationship with Stalin was a political mistake that served no purpose. Indeed, the Stalin relationship was out of character for FDR who usually displayed better political instincts.
Future presidents need to keep Franklin D. Roosevelt’s friendship with Stalin in mind when dealing with dictators. Stalin and FDR show us that a few misguided efforts at communication can destroy a leader’s reputation.