History can be a harsh educator. A good example of its instructive methods was the fate of Eastern Europe, specifically Poland, at the end of WWII and for over four decades to come.
The lesson? What happens when you elect a man to the White House who is mentally failing. Our case in point, Franklin Roosevelt at the 1945 Yalta Conference. We should heed what happened there when thinking of a possible Biden presidency.
Roosevelt was tired. His once exuberant energy had been sapped by 13 years of depression and war. Setting aside for our purposes how he fared as president during the depression (badly), the war had been a hard slog. Only the year prior, with the Normandy invasion of 1944, had the tide decisively turned in favor of the allies. About that time, friends and aides, even allies like Winston Churchill, noticed a change in the president.
He couldn’t retain information the way he had before. He was forgetting names and faces he had known well for years. His speech was sometimes slurred and meandering. His logic and clarity were impaired. Sound familiar?
But just over 20 years prior the Democrats had kept a mental and physical cripple, Woodrow Wilson, in the Oval Office two years after a debilitating stroke. Wilson’s wife and chief aide ran the country during the period. Wise Democrats (I know, now an oxymoron) at the 1944 Democrat Convention realized Roosevelt’s state and threw his incumbent virtually communist vice president off the ticket and brought on solid and sharp Missouri Senator Harry Truman. Roosevelt was reelected in November and in February traveled to the Crimea for the Yalta Conference to decide the fate of Europe after the war. Roosevelt would be dead of a cerebral hemorrhage by April.
But this sick feeble man who had only two months left to live represented the interests of the Free World at the 1945 conference. There, much to the apprehension and consternation of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, also a conference participant, Roosevelt caved on almost every demand pressed upon him by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Roosevelt had convinced himself that Stalin would eventually come around to a legitimate postwar settlement if the West surrendered at Yalta. Stalin saw him coming ten miles away. Because of Roosevelt’s severely handicapped mental state he specifically gave Stalin complete control over Eastern Europe including Poland. The region and Poland paid for Roosevelt’s infirmity until 1989.
What international conferences would a President Biden attend? Will Xi of China and Putin be there? If he is clearly enfeebled now, how will Joe Biden perform then? If his sentences are muddled and unclear during a campaign, how will he negotiate for America’s interests and very safety at the international conference table? It is a question we would do well to ask.