Via Yglesias, comes a review by Andrew Bacevich of a revisonist history of Stalin. I find the review to be brilliant. I am curious to see what others here will think. Here is a piece:
In brief, the story that Roberts tells goes like this: Josef Stalin, uncontested leader of the Soviet Union from 1927 until his death in 1953, deserves to be remembered as a great statesman-indeed, as the greatest of the age. Although Stalin made his share of mistakes, especially in the early phases of World War II, he learned from those mistakes and thereby grew in wisdom and stature. Among allied chieftains, he alone was irreplaceable. He, not Churchill and not Roosevelt, was the true architect of victory, “the dictator who defeated Hitler and helped save the world for democracy.”
. . . THERE ARE at least three problems with this depiction of Stalin as great statesman and man of peace. The first problem relates to the nature of the Grand Alliance, which Roberts misinterprets. The second relates to the nature of statecraft, which Roberts misunderstands. The third relates to the moral obligation inherent in the craft of history, which Roberts abdicates. The misinterpretation, the misunderstanding and the abdication all work to Stalin’s advantage, adding luster to his reputation. Yet none of the three is persuasive or acceptable.
. . . If World War II produced a master of statecraft, then surely it was Roosevelt. He won the most at the least cost. Alone among great powers, only the United States emerged from the war stronger than when the war had begun. Fate dealt Roosevelt a strong hand-far stronger than Churchill’s-and he played it well. As a consequence of victory, Washington too acquired an empire of sorts, but this empire helped sustain American prosperity and bolstered American security. Hardly less significantly, FDR succeeded by 1945 in restoring popular confidence in basic institutions, muting the impact of the Great Depression. To his successors Roosevelt bequeathed widely shared expectations that the “American Century” was meant to continue indefinitely, as it has, despite periodically ill-advised policies and reckless misadventures. The contrast with Stalin’s legacy could hardly be greater. (Whether or not the American Century can survive the folly of George W. Bush remains to be seen.) . . .
Reactions will be appreciated. But be sure to read the entire review.