Last week, President Bush gave a terrific speech in Latvia about the rise of freedom and democracy in the world, hailing the Baltic nations for keeping their love of liberty and independence alive during a long period of Soviet occupation.
Then he went further, decrying the agreement at Yalta that consigned Eastern Europe to Soviet domination. "The agreement at Yalta followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable. Yet, this attempt to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability left a continent divided and unstable. The captivity of millions in Central and Eastern Europe will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs of history."
You knew, you just knew, that the American media would object.
Predictably, ABC "News" disagreed with Bush's decision to offend Vladimir Putin and Russian spin artists who would suggest something other than the truth about Soviet occupation. On the night before the speech, reporter Terry Moran calmly recited the factual record of Soviet occupation of the Baltic nations, but then, remarkably, suggested it was rude to remind people of that truth because Russian leaders "insist that Soviet troops liberated these countries from Nazism and they reject the accusation they were occupiers." So when Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga bluntly declared to Moran that the Russians were "lying . . . through their teeth," Moran exclaimed, "That's an extraordinary thing for the head of state to say about another government," to which Vike-Freiberga replied, "Well, these are facts."
What kind of exchange is this? Is ABC interested in reporting facts, or isn't it? How typical to decry undiplomatic language -- when it comes from a pro-American president. Truth be told, it's not really "extraordinary" at all for one head of state to say to another that they are an evil oppressor. Communist dictators said it to America's presidents for decades (for starters, think media darling Castro), and I can't recall ABC ever finding those anti-U.S. broadsides "extraordinary" and coarsely undiplomatic. And isn't it strange for ABC, which has spent two years coarsely and undiplomatically decrying Bush's "occupation" of Iraq, to advise that the right diplomatic move is silence when Russia's Soviet past is in the picture?