the International Court of Justice? Stettinius counseled the president, "It would appear that some of these matters had best be settled by your own direct action in such manner as you yourself determine." 29
It was already a victory for Stalin that the three aging leaders were meeting at the Livadia Palace in Yalta. For Roosevelt, particularly, the trip to the shore of the Black Sea was grueling. He broke his journey by first meeting with Churchill on the island of Malta. The two leaders attempted to create a common front on the important issues before meeting with Stalin. Now ill—he was in fact in the last two months of his life—the president saw as his primary task the achievement of lasting cooperation with Russia and the creation of the United Nations. 30 Poland and other European adjustments were secondary and, in his mind, largely dependent on long-term harmony among the great powers.
While the president was in transit, Secretary Stettinius provided him with a briefing book of points to be pursued at Yalta. It is instructive that the first goal was to be a Soviet-British agreement on the voting procedure of the Security Council along the lines of the United States proposal. It was left to item number five to find a "solution to the Polish problem" by "the establishment of an interim government which would be broadly representative of the Polish people and acceptable to all the major allies." 31
In his assessment of the Yalta Conference, John Stoessinger concludes, "In retrospect it is difficult to see how Roosevelt could have done much better." 32 Indeed, he got a commitment out of Stalin to "broaden" the Lublin government in Poland and to permit "free" elections based on open suffrage and a secret ballot. At the last plenary session of the conference, Stalin made it clear that Poland was a question of "life and death" for Russia. Unless the United States was willing to take on a new adversary immediately after the defeat of Nazi Germany, Senator Vandenburg's question upon hearing the results of Yalta____________________