The agreement among the Big Three at the Crimean Conference could provide the road map for a lasting peace.
Washington, February 13
The first reactions of the capital to the concrete and energetic communiqué from the Crimea Conference indicates that this will rank as one of the President’s greatest achievements. With Mr. Churchill and Marshal Stalin, he has taken us one firm step farther along the difficult road to a total victory and a stable peace. Much since November 7 has been disheartening to the day-by-day observer, but in the proceedings at Yalta the historic significance of Mr. Roosevelt’s reelection is made plain — in foreign policy a continuation of close and friendly liaison among the leaders of the Big Three, the sine qua non of Axis defeat and post-war reconstruction. One can easily imagine Governor Dewey doing many of the same things and making many of the same appointments as Mr. Roosevelt since the election, but one cannot imagine a Republican President reaching the Crimea agreement on Poland, as one cannot imagine a Republican President appointing a man of Henry Wallace’s outlook as Secretary of Commerce. Whatever his compromises on less important matters and however his evaluation of detail and his sense of timing may differ from those of some of his progressive supporters, Mr. Roosevelt’s course clearly remains charted toward the two major objectives of an enduring peace abroad and full employment at home. This is what we voted for.
In the sphere of military action the Crimea communiqué is regarded here as foreshadowing a new offensive against the Reich, this time from the north, probably through Denmark. Should the Germans be forced to fight on a fourth front, their collapse would be hastened, and there is much hopeful speculation about the Russian agreement to sit in with the Chinese at the United Nations Security Conference to be held at San Francisco on April 25. The date is the deadline for denunciation of the nonaggression pact between the U.S.S.R. and Japan, and it is felt that the Soviets would not risk this announcement, with all it may imply in Tokyo, unless they were confident that final victory over the Reich will be dose enough in the next few weeks to enable them to handle a surprise attack by Japan. This reflects confidence by the U.S.S.R. not only in its own strength but in the trustworthiness of its allies. A related indication of the ever closer relations among the Big Three is found in certain phrases in the communiqué which seem to doom any hopes that might have been nurtured by the “Free German” generals in Moscow.
When Stalin joins in expressing an “inflexible purpose to destroy German militarism . . . to disarm and disband all German armed forces; break up for all time the German General Staff. . . remove or destroy all German military equipment; eliminate or control all German industry that could be used for military production … remove all Nazi and and militarist influences from public office and from the cultural and economic life of the German people” (my italics), he must feel sure enough of his Western allies to shut the door on the use of the Marshal von Paulus crowd as an alternative instrument of Soviet policy. A declaration of intent to “disband all German armed forces” is a departure from earlier Stalin statements that seemed to promise the Reich the right to retain an army and opened an avenue of negotiation between Moscow and dissident German generals among its prisoners.* To use some of these generals as pawns against the West might at one time have seemed a grim political possibility in Moscow. Apparently the Crimea Conference has made Marshal Stalin feel that no such dangerous game will be necessary. This is regarded here as not the least of the President’s achievements at Yalta.