Beginning in the late 1920s, Joseph Stalin stole the land of Ukrainian farmers and tried to force them to live on collectives. When they refused, he lined them up by the thousands and had them machine-gunned. Consequently, fields were left unplanted, the next harvest never arrived, and millions of Ukrainians faced starvation. To punish his Ukrainian foes, Stalin let the famine take its toll. He offered no condolences, let alone relief, and by the mid-1930s, 7 million had starved to death.
Then Stalin turned his attention to those in his government whom he suspected (wrongly) were plotting against him. Ranking members of the foreign affairs department, nearly all the diplomatic corps, and 70 percent of his political party leadership—among others—were killed or simply vanished.
On the heels of such acts of despotism, the United States began "lending" military equipment to the Soviet Union. At the time, President Franklin Roosevelt said, "This decision is the end of any attempt at appeasement in our land; the end of urging us to get along with dictators; the end of compromise with tyranny and the forces of oppression." The "forces of oppression"? Nazi Germany.
The alliance with Russia was uncomfortable at best. But the judgment of history is clear: The Soviet Union's defeat of Germany on the eastern front was key to Hitler's downfall. And America's giving of $11 billion in Lend-Lease military aid was vital to Russian victory.
All this to say: Sometimes securing liberty for some (like those enduring Nazi occupation) means temporarily overlooking the oppression of others (like those suffering Soviet oppression). This is not an easy truth to stare at, but one we must contemplate at this hour.
In the cause ...1
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