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Life Arts    H2'ed 3/1/18

Undoing the New Deal: Truman's Cold War Buries Wallace and the Left (Pt 2)

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Peter Kuznick is a professor of history and the director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University. He is the co-writer with Oliver Stone of The Untold History of the United States; author of Beyond the Laboratory: Scientists As Political Activists in 1930s America(University of Chicago Press); co-author with Akira Kimura of Rethinking the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Japanese and American Perspectives (Horitsu Bunkasha, 2010); co-author with Yuki Tanaka of Genpatsu to Hiroshima - genshiryoku heiwa riyo no shinso (Nuclear Power and Hiroshima: The Truth Behind the Peaceful Use of Nuclear Power) (Iwanami, 2011); and co-editor with James Gilbert of Rethinking Cold War Culture (Smithsonian Institution Press).

[To View Part 1 click HERE]

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[To View Part 3 Click Here]

Full Transcript of Part 2:

PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay and we're continuing our discussion with Peter Kuznick about the history of the Democratic Party and the struggle between what I'm calling the progressive wing, or the wing that is more associated with the workers and unions involved in the Democratic Party, and the oligarchal wing, as I would call it, the elite section of the elite that's involved in commanding, directing, fighting for the Democratic Party. And we're talking to Peter Kuznick who now joins us again from Washington. Thanks for joining us again, Peter.

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PETER KUZNICK: Hey, Paul.

PAUL JAY: One more time, Peter is a professor of history at the American University. You really should watch part one if you haven't because we're going to just pick up the discussion. We're working our way chronologically. In part one, we talked about Roosevelt and Henry Wallace, who was probably the most progressive politician to ever reach such heights as a vice president.

Before we get to Truman and the purging of the New Dealers, in the election that followed, Wallace runs as a third party candidate. If Wallace is so popular throughout the country, as you said, is second most popular politician in the country after Roosevelt, why isn't his third party run more successful? Because Truman wins and Wallace doesn't.

PETER KUZNICK: Well, a lot has changed from 1944 to 1948 in the United States and it's changed for the worse, not only in the United States but in the world. So you've got Truman taking office, getting sworn in the night of August 12th, 1945. The European war ends on May 8th. The Pacific war ends on August 14th. What we have beginning, under Truman, so Truman takes office, his first full day is April 13th. He meets with Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov on April 23rd.

Roosevelt's last cable to Churchill said that "these issues between us and the Soviets crop up every day and they seem to get resolved. We should not make a big deal of them. We should downplay them and go on with our relationship with the Soviets." Truman does not buy into that. You have to remember that in December of '41 after Pearl Harbor, Truman gets up on the floor on the Senate and says if the Russians are winning, we should support the Germans, and if the Germans are winning, we should support the Russians, and that way, let them kill as many of each other as possible. Truman never shared Roosevelt's and Wallace's sense that the Soviets were our friends and our allies.

PAUL JAY: So, let me just ask you a quick question.

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PETER KUZNICK: Yeah.

PAUL JAY: Then, why does Roosevelt agree to have Truman as the vice president? Even if he is going to give in to the pressure from the Southern Democrats and the right-wing Democrats, who don't want Wallace to become the next president and so on, why Truman? Why someone who's so not associated with Roosevelt's beliefs?

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