Date: Sunday, 26 February 2023
Why Harry Truman Was America's Worst-Ever President
By Eric Zuesse and Maxim Hvatkov
The White House Website opens its brief article about the 33rd of America’s now 46 Presidents by saying that, “During his few weeks as Vice President, Harry S. Truman scarcely saw President Roosevelt, and received no briefing on the development of the atomic bomb or the unfolding difficulties with Soviet Russia” (since the current President and latest Truman heir, Biden, is obsessed against Russia and China, and since his Administration pretends that all of the Soviet Union consisted of what was actually just the largest of that Union-nation’s 15 federal Republics: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belorussia now Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirgiziya now Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia now Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan). Truman had been anything other than the choice of the sitting President, the progressive Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), but was instead forced upon him by the Democratic Party’s richest donors; and his wife, Eleanor, was adamant that he choose FDR’s politically far more popular and progressive actual first and only choice, Henry Wallace, instead of Truman. In what would turn out to have been probably the biggest error that FDR ever made, he decided that if he bucked the people with the bucks, then he might lose re-election, which — given that there was a war on — he did not want to risk; and, so, he reluctantly accepted Truman as the nominee, instead.
U.S. historians, in their “Overall” (or Wikipedia’s “O”) rankings of U.S. Presidents, rank Truman variously, from the 6th-best to the 10th-best, of the 44 U.S. Presidents who have been rated thus far.
However, because of what Truman did, World War Two technically never ended between Japan and the Soviet Union, and continues till this very day; and, ever since Truman started the Cold War on 25 July 1945, the Cold War on the American side has been continued actually by all U.S. Presidents after that time, because — as a consequence of subsequent decisions that Truman made (and that President GHW Bush started making permanent on 24 February 1990), the U.S. Government has secretly been continuing aiming ultimately to conquer Russia, as a result of which, the world that Truman had started on that day in 1945 has shaped the world that we all live in today. Truman’s decisions shaped it by enormously increasing wars and deaths and war-dismemberments and destructions and refugees, and especially by creating (and most especially by the continued cooperation of all U.S. Presidents since the time of GHW Bush who secretly decided to continue the Cold War on the U.S. side) the danger that we all now face, of a nuclear Armageddon, which would effectively end everyone — all of these unnecessary harms and dangers having resulted from the world that Truman started on 25 July 1945, and which he subsequently shaped the U.S. Government to become structurally committed to continuing (as it has been).
All of these allegations against Truman’s Presidency will here be documented by means of this article’s links, through to the primary sources: historical documents which are of unchallenged authenticity but whose significance to the history of post-WW-II American foreign policies has never, until now, here, been placed into its full context, which context displays, I think, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Truman was a bad President beyond compare, and did more damage to the world than any other U.S. President ever has done.
Much of this article builds upon the excellent one by the fine historian Maxim Hvatkov, whose article at the Russian news-site RT on 7 February 2023 was the first that placed the territorial conflict between Russia and Japan into this broader historical perspective. However, the opinions here are mine; the “editorializing” here (and some of the historical details) have been added by, and express the views and documentation, only from myself, Eric Zuesse. These will be criticisms of a U.S. Government that has been creating and building after WW II its now vast empire as a consequence of the decisions by Truman and his successors; and, so, one of my purposes here will be to add links to sources that Hvatkov did not link to, in order to make easier for the reader here to access the crucial documentary sources, in order for the reader to be able to verify on one’s own that the shocking history which is here being recounted — and which portrays Truman as having been stunningly bad — is, indeed, and fully, true. After all: Truman is, at present, considered by historians (who are predominanly in favor of America’s empire-building) to have been America’s 6th-to-10th-best President; and, yet, the case that will be presented here is that he was actually the very worst (the most harmful one of all) of America’s 44 rated Presidents. That discrepancy between historians and the reality is why it’s necessary here to make available easily, to all readers, the source-documentation for that seemingly outlandish — and extraordinarily unorthodox — claim: that Truman was actually the worst U.S. President ever. Another of my purposes will be to supplement Hvatkov’s account, so as to connect it even more broadly to history, and far beyond only post-WW-II Russian-Japanese relations, which were his almost exclusive focus.
Hvatkov’s article was titled “How the US has worked to prevent Russia and Japan from putting a formal end to World War Two: Russia and Japan have technically been at war with each other for almost 80 years. The US is the main roadblock to a peace treaty”, and the “peace treaty” referred-to there was approved by Churchill, Roosevelt (FDR), and Stalin, at the Yalta Conference, the Conference during 4-11 February 1945, in which the three major Allied Powers, which by then were confident that they would soon win World War Two, agreed among themselves, regarding what all three of them accepted without question must be included in the post-WW-II international world’s political order. These were matters, concerning which, none of the three offered any objection. The Yalta Agreement was the basic document for the end of WW II. It was signed by Churchill, FDR, and Stalin, at the Conference’s end, on 11 February 1945.
On 27 August 1945, Truman (who had become President upon FDR’s death on 12 April 1945) rejected that international agreement. His memorandum received by Stalin on that date simply lied about it (thereby setting the U.S. Government onto its present path of routinely lying, even about what is in black-and-white on paper, such as the Yalta Agreement was and is). His memo said “You evidently misunderstood my message because you refer to it as a demand usually laid before a conquered state or an allied state unable to defend parts of its territory. I was not speaking about any territory of the Soviet Republic. I was speaking of the Kurile Islands, Japanese territory, disposition of which must be made at a peace settlement. I was advised that my predecessor agreed to support in the peace settlement the Soviet acquisition of those islands.” For example, Truman’s “I was speaking of the Kurile Islands, Japanese territory” contradicted Yalta, which explicitly said that it was Russian territory that Japan had seized in 1904. And this wasn’t about “Soviet acquisition of those islands” (as Truman alleged) but Yalta had instead said “The former rights of Russia violated by the treacherous attack of [meaning by] Japan in 1904 shall be restored, viz: (a) the southern part of Sakhalin as well as all islands adjacent to it shall be returned to the Soviet Union” & “The Kuril islands shall be handed over to the Soviet Union.” & “The Heads of the three Great Powers have agreed that these claims of the Soviet Union shall be unquestionably fulfilled after Japan has been defeated.” These lands, Yalta ruled, were to be RETURNED to the Soviet Union — not merely the ambiguous “Soviet acquisiton” of them, but the RETURN OF THEM, TO the Soviet Union. Truman was a liar (unless he was simply misinformed and stupid — but perhaps it was instead a mix of all three).
On 8 September 1951, Japan confirmed that it renounced all claims to the Kuril Islands and South Sakhalin, when it signed the Treaty of San Francisco (on 8 September 1951), (which said: “The state of war between Japan and each of the Allied Powers is terminated” & “Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Kurile Islands, and to that portion of Sakhalin and the islands adjacent to it over which Japan acquired sovereignty as a consequence of the Treaty of Portsmouth of 5 September 1905.” & “Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Spratly Islands and to the Paracel Islands.”) Yet the text of the treaty drafted by the U.S. and Great Britain neither said who it renounced those territories to, nor listed the names of the specific islands. U.S./UK were Rhodesist and therefore aimed to conquer the entire world, which, in all the years after WW II, included especially the Soviet Union, which they have been doing everything they could and can, to conquer. Nevertheless, Tokyo gave up the ability to have a say in the future of these island territories because all of the treaty’s 48 signatory states could then also lay claim to them.
The San Francisco Conference was the meeting at which the U.N. came into existence: it was massively historic. Everyone in Governments throughout the world at that time knew this. On 5 January 1946, Truman wrote to his chief foreign-relations advisor, the southern Democrat and extreme conservative, James Byrnes, saying: “At San Francisco no agreements or compromises were ever agreed to without my approval.” In other words: The U.S. delegation — which dominated the entire proceedings there — was entirely carrying out his (Truman’s) instructions to them; the existing U.N. was predominantly shaped not by the U.N.’s anti-imperialistic inventor and creator, FDR (nor by any of the Conference’s attendees), but by Harry S. Truman himself, who privately despised the intensely anti-imperialistic FDR (whom historians — perhaps oblivious to FDR’s intense opposition to the imperialism that they themselves favor — rank as one of America’s two greatest Presidents), and who replaced FDR’s entire Cabinet, within just two years, by ones who were in favor of Truman’s objective of creating an all-encompassing U.S. global empire and the military-industrial complex to enforce it, and the CIA coup-producing machine to extend it by means of international subversion, and all the rest of the Truman global program.
Those provisions about the islands, and the absence of the People’s Republic of China, at the San Francisco Conference, led the Soviet delegation to refuse to sign the Peace Treaty of San Francisco. Already, they knew that the U.S./UK government was out to conquer them, and that the U.N., which was being created there, was basically controlled by Truman, who, tragically, was their enemy.
At first, it would appear that Japan was resigned to losing the territories. Kumao Nishimura, chief of the Treaty Bureau of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, described the loss of Kunashir and Iturup in the Japanese parliament as a fait accompli. However, Washington was bent on creating a territorial problem for the U.S.S.R. When discussing the treaty, the U.S. Senate adopted a resolution which refused to accept any Soviet rights or claims to territories that belonged to Japan on December 7, 1941, including the Kuril Islands and even South Sakhalin.
Soon, Tokyo found new grounds to dispute the Southern Kurils.
Japan and the U.S.S.R. began bilateral talks in 1956 hoping to reach a settlement. Tokyo’s demands were very ambitious at first — approving Japan’s UN membership and returning all the territories that were under Japan’s control in 1905 after the Russo-Japanese War, including Southern Sakhalin and all the Kuril Islands. The Soviet Union’s proposal included giving Tokyo control over Shikotan and the Habomai Islands if Japan agreed to give up all future territorial demands. Shunichi Matsumoto, who represented Japan at the talks, later shared that he “couldn’t believe what he heard” at first and “greatly rejoiced.”
After several rounds, Japan narrowed its demands down to the four South Kuril Islands. Their reasoning was that historically these four islands weren’t considered part of the Kurils, and therefore were not covered by the Treaty of San-Francisco. This was totally in line with U.S. interests, since America didn’t want the agreement to be broken, but it also didn’t want the Soviet Union to have control over the two Kuril Islands.
Washington would have benefited from Tokyo gaining control over all four islands, but the Soviet Union wouldn’t budge.
When Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu made his recommendation to the Japanese government to accept Moscow’s proposal and agree to the transfer of the two islands, the country’s leadership didn’t like it. Deputy Cabinet Secretary Takizo Matsumoto commented, “Moscow influenced him, and the Cabinet decided to send him to London, where he could meet with the [US] Secretary of State.”
At the talks in the UK capital, the U.S. delegation threatened their colleagues from Tokyo, reminding them that they had no legal rights to the Kuril Islands and could not discuss their status with the U.S.S.R. On August 19, 1956, U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles told Shigemitsu that if an agreement between Moscow and Tokyo were to be reached, then “Japan might tell the Soviet Union of the tough line the United States was taking — that if the Soviet Union were to take all the Kurils, the United States might remain forever in Okinawa, and no Japanese Government could survive.” This thinly veiled threat, disguised as “a friendly recommendation,” effectively brought the Soviet-Japanese talks on the Kuril Islands to a halt.
The Ryukyu Islands were seized by U.S. troops in 1945, with its largest island, Okinawa, remaining under American control until 1972. Today, the U.S. maintains military bases there.
Vladimir Nelidov, an associate professor of Eastern Studies at MGIMO, told RT:
Japan was under American pressure back in the 1950s, of course, and there is no consensus among historians to this day as to how that incident should be construed. But one thing we know for sure — the U.S. was not interested in letting the Soviet Union normalize its relations with Japan, even if pro-U.S. political forces in Japan were not opposed to restoring relations with the Soviets.
However, despite America’s best efforts, the U.S.S.R. and Japan did sign a joint declaration in Moscow in 1956 (as it turned out to have been, only temporarily) putting an end to the state of war between the two countries. Moreover, the Soviet Union pledged to return the Habomai Islands and Shikotan to Japan, but only after a peace treaty was signed.
This generous gesture, however, was effectively terminated by the U.S. concluding a new treaty of mutual cooperation and security with Tokyo, giving America the right to establish and use military bases on Japanese soil, as well as to deploy any number of troops there. This practically meant that any Soviet territories returned to Japanese jurisdiction could be used for American military bases. Therefore, the U.S.S.R. chose to annul the Joint Declaration with Japan in 1960.
Years later, in 2018, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Putin agreed to resume talks based on the 1956 declaration. However, the Japanese leadership still interpreted the document, which only mentioned two of the four islands, in a very peculiar manner. Tokyo would never abandon its plans to get back all the four islands. Besides, it was not going to meet the requirement to recognize Russia’s sovereignty over the Kuril Islands.
In January 2023, during a press conference, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recalled that period of active negotiating, led by Prime Minister Abe:
At some point, the Japanese said they didn’t need the “big” peace treaty that Russia was offering… We had proposed signing a comprehensive peace treaty that would outline the principles of cooperation based on mutual respect, mutual interests, and neighborliness. The peace treaty was also supposed to cover investment, economic and humanitarian cooperation. All that was supposed to serve as a basis to define the border. The Japanese turned our proposal down saying they needed a document that’s strictly to the point, not a superfluous treaty full of rhetoric.
According to Valery Kistanov, Head of the Center for Japanese Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of China and Contemporary Asia, “Putin sincerely believed that a peace treaty was a necessity — and that’s what the diplomatic thaw during Abe’s term was about. The leaders of Russia and Japan held a total of 27 meetings, but the United States got involved in that too.”
According to Vladimir Nelidov, after 2014, President Obama “took a stand against Russia and Japan’s cooperation. … For example, in 2016, Obama asked Prime Minister Abe to cancel his visit to Russia, but Abe didn’t listen. The United States has been a negative influence on this relationship more often than not, and now especially so.”
Today, the U.S. ignores the Treaty of San-Francisco. On the occasion of Japan’s Northern Territories Day in 2022, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel openly said that Washington fully backs Tokyo against Russia.
Japan’s new government has made its position crystal clear and is sticking to its narrative of “four illegally occupied islands” that, in its opinion, Russia must return prior to signing a peace treaty.
As I see it, Russia doesn’t even need a peace treaty with Japan. We’ve lived for 70 years without one, and can keep on doing just that. We’ve always been accommodating and supportive of any effort to find a compromise, but Japan has never responded in the same way and I believe we shouldn’t expect it. Foreign Minister Lavrov recently quoted one expert on Japan who said, ‘should one day Japan decide that they are not getting back these four islands, it’ll join the club of Russia’s most fierce opponents.’ And that’s exactly what’s happening today.
On 4 November 2022, Japan’s Nikkei headlined “Japan to maintain stake in Russia's Sakhalin 1 oil project”, and reported that
Japanese stakeholders in the Sakhalin 1 oil and gas project in eastern Russia decided Friday to retain their stake in the undertaking by joining a new Russian operator recently established under a decree, as the project remains a vital source of energy for resource-poor Japan, sources close to the matter said.
Japan's government and companies including major trading houses Itochu and Marubeni have invested in the project through Tokyo-based Sakhalin Oil and Gas Development Co. If the Russian side approves the company plan decided at Friday's shareholders meeting, Japan will be able to keep its stake in the project.
The move comes amid international sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Sakhalin Oil and Gas Development holds a 30% stake in the project, which started producing crude oil on the island of Sakhalin north of Japan in 2005. Under the decree signed by President Vladimir Putin, foreign business partners had one month from the launch of the new operator in October to decide whether to invest in the new company.
The government has indicated Japan, which is highly dependent on energy imports, will maintain its stakes in the Sakhalin 1 and 2 energy projects, despite imposing economic sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Exxon Mobil of the United States, a major stakeholder in Sakhalin 1, announced its withdrawal from the project in March.
Russia has authorized investments by Japanese trading houses Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp. in Sakhalin 2, while British oil major Shell, which held an approximately 27.5% stake in the previous company, exited from the project.
Consequently: the U.S. Government, by its not imposing its anti-Russian sanctions upon this agreement between Russia and Japan, is ALLOWING it; and the meaning of this is that Japan’s Government had to have been threatening its imperial master, America’s Government, with something that was so unacceptable to America’s Government in the event that America’s Government would impose those sanctions against Japan for its accepting this agreement with Russia, so that America’s Government decided to WAIVE its sanctions there, in this instance.
What can logically be deduced from this fact is that America’s Government, which asserts (despite the Yalta Agreement to the contrary) that those islands are Japanese territory, is, practically speaking, suspending that policy in this particular instance.
What, then, is the purpose of the U.S. Government’s continuing its (anti-Yalta) policy, that these islands are Japanes territories? The purpose is simply in order for the U.S. Government to continue to prevent peace between Japan and Russia — it is to continue the false assertion that Japan, not Russia, includes those islands.
Anyone who thinks that the post-FDR U.S. Government would not be so calculatingly and so persistently evil, and dangerous to the entire world, as to impose such lies despite knowing that they are false and that their result might produce a global nuclear war, should consider evidences that I have recently presented in other articles, such as here and here and here.
Regarding specifically the incident when Truman set the U.S. Government onto this destructive and extremely hazardous path, I have documented that incident and provided all of its historical background here.
Regarding specifically the ratings that historians have given to Truman, according to which, he was somewhere between the 6th to the 10th-best of America’s 44 Presidents (and his personal hero, Dwight Eisenhower, who became his immediate successor and who had persuaded Truman to take this path — to start the Cold War — was similarly; and he and Truman jointly created America’s military-industrial complex (MIC) and empire of ‘allies’; Ike was probably America’s second-worst President, but maybe Obama was that, or Biden will be; but if neither of them turns out to have been, then perhaps Buchanan or the first Johnson was; however, no President has yet done more — or more lasting — harm than Truman): the present article had been submitted to the two main U.S. magazines that focus on U.S. history, and both rejected it; so, the general public will not get to see this argument regarding this matter, unless one or more of the hundreds of U.S. news-media that the article now is being submitted to will decide to publish it. Perhaps some editor(s) will want the general public, and historians of the U.S., to have access to the information (and to the sources) that are being presented here.
Regarding the impact that those ratings have on the future: If Truman was the very worst of all U.S. Presidents but historians rate him as having been instead a very good President, then the message that this gross inaccuracy sends to both the general public and future Presidents is disastrous and encourages many bad things, and the trustworthiness of American historians would be extremely low and the profession’s opinions should then obviously be ignored unless and until the profession itself changes in some rather basic ways.
Perhaps the greatest American President is yet to come, and will be the one who, unlike any other after FDR, publicly condemns what Truman did, and who publicly curses all of Truman’s successors and all members of the U.S. Congress for their not cursing and reversing it and closing America’s 900 foreign military bases and ending the MIC and its CIA and ‘Defense’ Department and permanent-warfare “standing army” (that America’s Founders all had condemned and intended would never exist in America) that Truman and Eisenhower had co-created, and ending NATO and ending the world’s last empire — the American empire — and pushing to reform the U.N. to become modified into becoming what FDR had intended it to be.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse’s new book, AMERICA’S EMPIRE OF EVIL: Hitler’s Posthumous Victory, and Why the Social Sciences Need to Change, is about how America took over the world after World War II in order to enslave it to U.S.-and-allied billionaires. Their cartels extract the world’s wealth by control of not only their ‘news’ media but the social ‘sciences’ — duping the public.