Thursday, March 28, 2013

Liveblogging World War II

Ala Brad Delong.  We take note of cognitive dissonance on the part of Robert Gellately in his Stalin's Curse: Battling for Communism in War and Cold War. The  academic historian (Florida State University) writes of a trip to Moscow in the summer of 1941, shortly after Hitler's invasion of Russia, by FDR's emissary Harry Hopkins, that;
Hopkins was well regarded in the Kremlin, so much so that some in the United States thought he was a Soviet spy, a groundless suspicion.
For which Gellately cites a 1990 book about the KGB.  However, a few pages later, there is an account of a trip to Washington DC in early 1942 by Stalin's Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov--for talks about the new alliance against Hitler--and we read that the first talks didn't go well, as FDR found the Russian to be extremely unpleasant.

Gellately says that Hopkins (who lived in the White House) visits Molotov late that night in the room also provided for him by Roosevelt.  Hopkins advises Molotov on how to approach FDR the next day; that he should 'draw a gloomy picture' of the Soviet Union's prospects against the Wehrmacht, as that would win over not only FDR, but also his military advisers Geo. Marshall and Admiral Ernest King, into giving greater assistance to the Russians.

Gellately comments;
It was peculiar that a U.S. official would be advising a foreign diplomat on how to gain advantage on his country's leaders.  But it seems that Roosevelt's top adviser was convinced  the Soviets were interested only in security and thought they would work with the Americans for 'a world of democracy and peace.'
  Or, maybe the suspicions of Hopkins weren't so 'groundless' at all.

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