The Cold War and Its Origins, 1917-1960 - Vol. 1

By D. F. Fleming | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
AFTER ROOSEVELT APRIL-AUGUST 1945

JUST before Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, he had prepared a radio address to be given the next day to celebrate Jefferson's birthday. In it he had written that "the mere conquest of our enemies is not enough. We must go on to do all in our power to conquer the doubts and the fears, the ignorance and the greed, which made this horror possible."

Urging that an end be put "forever, to this impractical, unrealistic settlement of the difference between peoples by the mass killing of peoples," he asked the American people to "keep up your faith. I measure the sound, solid achievement that can be made at this time by the straight-edge of your own confidence and your resolve."

Then in his last words to us Roosevelt said: "The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith."

This was the spirit in which Roosevelt faced the making of peace, on the last day of his life. There was no hint of a long, bitter "cold war" over who should control Eastern Europe, a conflict extending to Asia and becoming the loudest and most expensive "peace time" power fight in all human history. Both Roosevelt and Hull had been filled with a mighty resolve that this time the peace should not be frittered away and lost, that there should be no resurgence of self-defeating isolationism, no reëntry into the old, old treadmill of rival alliances, armaments race, mounting tension and war. This time it should be different. They both willed it and had faith that the fatal cycle could be avoided. They both knew that preserving good relations with Russia was the factor upon which all their hopes depended and they meant to achieve a solid working agreement with the U.S.S.R. in a new league of nations.


SUDDEN REVERSAL

When the strong hands of both Roosevelt and Hull were removed from the helm of the ship of state within a short space of time it was almost certain to move less surely into the future. Some of their successors meant to carry on their international policies, but others wanted to reverse them, especially the key policy of cooperation with the Soviet Union.

After he returned from Yalta, Roosevelt had little time or energy to counsel with the new Vice President, Harry S. Truman, about post-war foreign policy, and as his strength waned the risk of a reversal of his world policy constantly increased. It began to materialize two days after his death, when on the way

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