The atrocities and wholesale destruction visited upon the nation of Ukraine beginning February 24, 2022, and the annexation of Crimea in 2014 by Vladimir Putin’s Red Army is as much due to the megalomania of a madman as it is to the fecklessness of democracies who have failed to stand together to confront such evil. Tragically, we have seen this movie before.

One can argue that it all started with the 32nd president of the United States. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt always had a soft heart for the Russians and especially Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin relishing the privilege of calling the ruthless dictator “Uncle Joe.” The President actually believed that “If I give Stalin everything I can, and ask for nothing in return, noblesse oblige, he won’t try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of peace and democracy.” Peace and democracy?

This appraisal of Stalin as historian Paul Kengor has noted “… was one of the most naïve assessments of any major foreign leader in the history of the United States.” Professor Kengor’s book, Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century, demonstrates FDR’s profound and tragic gullibility when it came to the Soviets.

The President believed, until it was much too late, that he could “play” Stalin; that he could make a “Christian gentleman” out of the dictator. The President went so far as to say that the Soviet freedom of religion was much like the American freedom of religion. Contrast that sentiment with President Ronald Reagan’s view that “They [the Soviets] don’t subscribe to our sense of morality. They don’t believe in an afterlife, they don’t believe in a God or a religion.”

As told by historian Timothy Snyder in his book Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and
Stalin, during the period 1930 to 1933 approximately five million people died as a result of Stalin’s famines with Ukrainian peasants bearing the brunt of the savagery. And, that between 1936 and 1938 in what was called the Great Purge approximately one million of his own people were executed for failing to toe the Stalinist line. More terror was to come. On September 17, 1939 the Soviets invaded Poland from the east only days after Germany invaded the nation from the west in keeping with the diabolical Hitler-Stalin pact.

More emblematic, however, of the apparent hypnotic influence Stalin had over President Roosevelt was the President’s refusal to accept the fact that the Soviets had murdered nearly 22,000 POW Polish military officers on March 5, 1940 in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk, Russia. President Roosevelt was adamant in his disbelief that the Soviets had been responsible – despite overwhelming and indisputable evidence – claiming that the Germans had “rigged things up.” Further, on November 30, 1939, the Red Army sent nearly 500,000 troops into Finland to annex Finnish territory strafing and bombing civilian targets as they went along.

In sum, President Roosevelt’s behavior was shameless as he played “nice” with Stalin knowing full well that he was dealing with a murderous tyrant long before he had reason to interact with the dictator about how to defeat the Nazis. And, it was clearly the President who was played with great virtuosity to the detriment of millions who ultimately felt the wrath, rape, and plunder of Uncle Joe.

Clearly, President Roosevelt was lulled by his genuine belief that the Soviets were hostile because they felt threatened by external forces (to call the President’s belief profoundly naive is charitable at best). These days, Vladimir Putin sings a common refrain: Russia feels threatened by the West and especially the NATO alliance. The buffer state that once was, so the argument goes, has been lost to Russia from the time Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

The Russian argument, echoed by some prominent American commentators, is a red-herring. If Ukraine were part of present-day Russia, it would still be cheek to jowl with NATO countries Latvia, Estonia, Romania, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia. So much for the close proximity argument. What drove Putin to invade Ukraine and the small nation of Georgia in 2008 is that since the dismemberment of the Soviet Union he has sought to cobble back together the former Soviet empire.


At President Roosevelt’s insistence, Berlin was ceded not to the Western Allies but to the Soviets at war’s end. Time and again, the President ignored the advice of Winston Churchill who felt that allied forces should “meet the Red Army as far east as possible”. He also ignored the advice of General George S. Patton who pleaded that “we had better take Berlin, and quick.” In fact, the Ninth Army led by General William Simpson was all of forty-eight hours from Berlin. No matter. General Patton was told to stand down.

What was the consequence of Roosevelt’s fondness for Stalin? After the fall of Berlin, the carnage under Stalin continued apace, and the stage was set for the eventual nuclear confrontation between the Soviets and the United States: the capture of Berlin allowed the Soviets to get their hands on several tons of uranium oxide used as fuel in nuclear reactors, and to seize Germany’s leading scientific minds most significantly those who had worked on Hitler’s nuclear projects.

Scores of German scientists were forced – some apparently were happy to volunteer – to work on the Soviet A-bomb. Luminaries such as Manfred von Ardenne, Gustav Hertz, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics with James Franck, Max Volmer, Max Steenbeck and Nikolaus Riehl all worked hard and were able to deliver to Stalin a nuclear bomb by 1949 a scant four years after the takeover of Berlin. President Roosevelt’s “gift” of Berlin to Stalin as a way to ingratiate himself to the dictator failed miserably. At the Yalta Conference, February, 1945, President Roosevelt assured Winston Churchill that “…Stalin was not an imperialist.” Geopolitical savvy was never President Roosevelt’s strong suit. The President’s obtuseness had been in evidence during the Cuban revolution of 1933 when he ignored ambassador Sumner Welles’ call to intervene and dampen the anarchy which had overtaken the island. The upshot of the President’s inaction was Batista’s dictatorship which only proved to be the precursor of a far more malignant tyranny: Castro’s Cuba. Not long after the Yalta Conference, Stalin put in place the Communist Bloc of nations which enslaved millions of people for decades to come.

In the end, “the courtship of Stalin during World War II failed abysmally” according to Robert Nisbet in his groundbreaking book, Roosevelt and Stalin: The Failed Courtship.


President Roosevelt was especially keen to host members of a Soviet delegation preferably those who had seen action against the Nazis. Lyudmila Pavlichenko was one of three people sent by the Soviet Union to the United States in late 1942 to participate in an international student assembly sponsored by Washington that would tour the country and speak out against Fascism at various colleges and universities. Delegates to the assembly were to include representatives from the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and China.

Red Army sniper Mrs. Pavlichenko known to have had 309 confirmed enemy kills – that is, kills verified by another party – and possibly many more that went unrecorded, was the darling of the Soviet delegation that met with President Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in both Washington D.C. and the President’s ancestral home in Hyde Park, New York. The First Lady literally fawned over Mrs. Pavlichenko. She went so far as to cut to size and sew a pair of her own silk pajamas for Mrs. Pavlichenko’s use. In addition to Mrs. Pavlichenko, a second member of the Soviet delegation was also a sniper with 100 enemy kills to his credit, and the third was secretary for propaganda of the Young Communist League’s Moscow district. So much for “student” representatives.

In sharp contrast, President Roosevelt did not have the common decency to invite American Olympians, including quadruple gold-medalist Jesse Owens, to the White House upon their return from the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin – this, after having ignored the advice of many in his administration to boycott the Olympics in order to protest Hitler’s racist policies. Sadly, as Jesse Owens subsequently lamented, “the president didn’t even send me a telegram.”

That he had a soft heart for communist ideals was clear from his statement that “They [the Soviets] all seem really to want to do what is good for their society instead of wanting to do for themselves. We take care of ourselves and think about the welfare of society afterward.”   A “mystical devotion” rhapsodized President Roosevelt.

Unfortunately, that sentiment was grievously misguided. There is little one can point to of Stalin’s actions that were good for Soviet society. That he took a backward, illiterate, and agrarian nation and transformed it into an industrial power, as some would have it, is a specious argument. Leaving aside for the moment the enormous price in human lives that afforded such a transformation the reality is that the fruits of such industrialization were kept in the hands of the party’s apparatchiks. The average Soviet citizen was hardly the beneficiary of such inhuman sacrifices. More broadly, Stalin promoted Marxism-Leninism across the world to the point that it became the least democratic, least successful, and thus most reviled form of government on the face of the earth.

As French historian Stephane Courtois states in his book, The Black Book of Communism, “Communist regimes turned mass crime into a full-blown system of government.” Tragically, feckless American leadership, with President Roosevelt at the helm, failed to act as a bulwark to forestall the communist tyranny that was to cost the lives of millions of the world’s citizens.


If it can safely be said that President Roosevelt was an ineffective wartime president, especially in his relations with the Soviets, what did his administration do to protect the rights of citizens? FDR’s snub of Jesse Owens was the least of his slights directed at the African American community. Several actions speak for themselves: he ignored the American Federation of Labor’s (AFL) refusal to allow blacks from entering the skilled trades; he opposed legislation to end the poll tax originally designed to disenfranchise black voters; he opposed anti-lynching legislation, and he never allowed an African American journalist to attend any of his press conferences. Roosevelt’s racism bordered on the pathological as he believed that surgery or sterilization might be appropriate to deal with what he considered to be the inferior traits of Japanese, Germans, and Puerto Ricans.

Roosevelt’s disdain for Jews was also deeply-ingrained and lifelong. Many of his friends and family-members were known to be anti-Semites. While at Harvard, he helped institute a “Jewish quota” that would keep the Jewish student body at 15%. As president, he believed in a plan to “spread the Jews thin” so that they wouldn’t concentrate in a particular geography or over-represent a single profession. For example, he once suggested that Jews provoked anti-Semitism in Poland because they dominated the economy. He even considered resettling Jewish refugees in South America, Africa, and Australia until those plans proved to be unworkable. The upshot was to keep the Jews bottled up in Europe.

During the Nazi years, not only did Roosevelt refuse to take any kinetic action against Nazi concentration camps or their railway accesses, a capability which the Allied military clearly had, but immigration policy was monstrously hamstrung as well: fewer than 6,500 German Jews were admitted into the United States annually because of undue restrictions and other pettifoggery. Roosevelt’s State Department, brimming with anti-Semites, was complicit in doing his dirty work of keeping Jewish immigration to a minimum. Roosevelt’s ambassador to Germany, William E. Dodd, was specifically instructed to not get involved in matters having to do with the persecution of Jews. When Dodd did voice his concerns to the State Department about Hitler’s horrific actions he was told, according to Erik larson, author of In the Garden of Beasts, “Look we don’t really care about this, we care about Germany’s debt.”

Pleas to help Jewish refugees was nothing more than “Jewish wailing” according to Roosevelt. The consequence of which, according to Professor Rafael Medoff, is that approximately 190,000 Jewish lives could have been saved if the immigration standards had been relaxed. May 27, 1939 the S.S. St Louis, with 937 European Jewish refugees on board, was refused permission to dock in Florida. Forced to return to Europe, approximately one-third of the refugees subsequently perished in the Holocaust.

After the defeat of Nazi forces in North Africa in late 1942, Roosevelt, as a further slap to the Jews, kept in power the Nazi collaborator and Vichy Admiral, Francois Darlan, to administer the liberated territories. For the Jews of North Africa, however, there was little cause for celebration as anti-Semitic oppression continued. These actions prompted scholar and Zionist leader Benzion Netanyahu, father of Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to lament that “the spirit of the Swatstika hovers over the Stars and Stripes.”

October 6, 1943, more than 400 rabbis marched on the Capitol to make their case to President Roosevelt that European Jews were being slaughtered. By the spring of that year alone, Hitler had exterminated over 1,500,00 Jews. The rabbis were disappointed, if not offended, when one of the president’s secretaries came out to meet them to report that the president was too busy to see them. In the end, Roosevelt never supported the establishment of a Jewish state. It wasn’t until October 1946 that President Harry Truman publicly declared his support for Jewish statehood.

It is fair to say that the most accurate encapsulation of Roosevelt’s attitude towards the Jews is found in New York and New Deal-Democrat congressman Emanuel Celler’s comment when he said that FDR “didn’t raise a finger to help the Jews. To learn more about FDR’s woeful response to the Holocaust and the plight of European Jewish refugees read Rafael Medoff’s myth-shattering book FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith.

More shamefully, perhaps, on February 19, 1942 President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which gave the government the right to displace, relocate, and intern citizens of Japanese ancestry. Approximately 120,000 men, women, and children, including some 70,000 American citizens, were forcibly displaced under the President’s executive order. Roosevelt believed the Japanese to be both racially inferior and a suspect group and so the decision to sign the order did not take much prompting in light of the histrionics displayed by those who believed – contrary to all of the evidence at the time – that the Japanese posed a fifth-column threat.

When plaintiff Fred Korematsu took his case to the United States Supreme Court, the court handed down a 6-3 decision against Mr. Korematsu. The majority opinion was written by Justice Hugo Black, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, and Senator from Alabama. Justice Black opined that internment was constitutional as a matter of “military urgency.”

While in the Senate, Black proved to be Roosevelt’s most unsavory, though efficient, henchman in spying and attacking anyone who opposed the New Deal. Black never saw a New Deal plan he didn’t like or endorse. With Roosevelt’s encouragement and support, Black ran what amounted to a police state: wiretaps, tax audits, media intimidation, dragnet subpoenas, “sedition” trials, lobbyist persecutions, and telegram surveillance was the order of the day as Roosevelt struck back at his political adversaries. In the end, millions of private telegrams were rummaged through by Black and his committee before the courts belatedly put a stop to the tyrannical practice. Black was also an ardent supporter of Roosevelt’s plan to pack the Supreme Court with as many as five additional justices so the President could have his way with the highest judiciary in the land. When that plan failed, Roosevelt naturally turned to his trusted ally Hugo Black and nominated him to the Supreme Court.

Roosevelt’s ruthless and morally indefensible behavior had been on full display long before he became president. As Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1919 he went on a crusade to root out homosexuality at the naval base of Newport, Rhode Island. His methods of entrapment and intimidation were despicable. Defendants languished in solitary confinement for months in the absence of charges. In the end, the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs concluded that Roosevelt’s actions proved that he was unfit to hold any public office. Unfortunately, the committee’s advice went unheeded as the nation was incapable of dodging the bullet that proved to be the Roosevelt administration.

To have a fuller appreciation of how an otherwise lionized president was nothing short of a despot, a racist, a eugenicist, and anti-Semite read author David T. Beito’s book The New Deal’s War on the Bill of Rights.


“…after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started…And an enormous debt to boot!” Those are the words of Henry Morgenthau, Jr., President Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Treasury, and the president’s long-time friend and confidant. Clearly, President Roosevelt was puzzled about what to do about the Great Depression; except that through his senseless meddling in the economy (“experimentation” the President called it) he made the Depression great. Not only was unemployment stuck at about 12% during FDR’s first eight years in office but both national income and industrial production fell by one-third. In 1937, four years after President Roosevelt had taken office, the United States economy snapped back to Depression levels. It took a world war and not government intervention to finally put a nail in the coffin of the Depression. The stock market never fully recovered until the 1940’s.

The President’s New Deal, such as it was, was meant to supplant free markets and private enterprise initiatives with public sector policies and programs. Most notable among FDR’s federal program boondoggles was the Tennessee Valley Authority. The TVA was an amalgam of dams and generators meant to electrify the needs of residents in the local area. Setting aside that most of the nation was taxed to benefit only 2% of the population, for decades after the TVA was launched, the affected area lagged behind its state neighbors economically. Built at a cost of over $2 billion, the public program was a poor substitute for the efforts of risk capitalists.

Excessive spending, subsidies, handouts, anti-competitive practices, patronage and political favoritism, interventionist government policies, confiscatory personal and corporate taxation, government overeach, and stifling regulation all helped to strangle an already debilitated economy. In the end, the New Deal would affect Americans from all walks of life for generations to come. Most corrosively, the New Deal helped launch a welfare state from which there is now no likely return. For a searing account of the lasting damage done to the nation by the 32nd president read economic historian Burton Folsom, Jr.’s book New Deal or Raw Deal? How FDR’s Economic Legacy Has Damaged America.

April 12, 1945, President Roosevelt, further underscoring the severely flawed character of a man who rarely delivered as he promised, died in the arms of his long-time mistress Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd following a life of promiscuous behavior.

Management Advisor


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