View Full Version : Roosevelt was 'mentally impaired' at Yalta

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2005, 11:37 PM
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington

21 February 2005

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, considered one of America's greatest presidents, may have been mentally impaired at his meeting with Stalin at Yalta - a condition that led him to make many costly errors about the post-war settlement. Although his doctors knew of it, the public remained unaware of his condition, a report claims.

Sixty years after the Yalta summit, a leading US psychiatrist said FDR's condition led him to make repeated diplomatic and political mistakes, such as failing to prevent Stalin seizing Manchuria and ensure that Poland was free of Soviet control. The previously assiduous president did not read important documents and generally failed to stand up to the Soviet leader.

"We are saying that the president was mentally impaired and was not able to process information thoroughly and accurately," said Alen Salerian, a former senior consultant psychiatrist to the FBI. "We are offering the medical evidence for it."

FDR's poor physical health during his fourth and final term in office has been well documented. Indeed, in April 1945, just two months after the Yalta meeting, FDR died of a brain haemorrhage. But Mr Salerian said his study was the first analysis of FDR's mental condition and the impact it had on his judgement.

In a peer-reviewed article published tomorrow in The Forensic Examiner, Mr Salerian says an examination of previous documents and reports about FDR's medical condition has allowed him to perform a diagnosis. Despite the obvious drawback of not being able to examine or speak with his "patient", Mr Salerian has no doubts about his conclusions.

During his last term, FDR was known to be suffering from hypertension and congestive heart failure. Mr Salerian believes that this led to hypoxia - a shortage of oxygen to the brain - and subsequent cognitive impairment. "Mr Roosevelt was not receiving enough oxygen to his brain tissue," he told The Independent. "It's not easy to function. As result, his intellectual and cognitive abilities were compromised."

The meeting between FDR, Stalin and the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, took place at the Crimean resort from 4-11 February 1945. With the course of the war clear and Germany's defeat only a matter of time, the meeting was held to agree a post-war settlement - not just in regard to Germany and Japan, but in relation to the creation of an international body.

Jeremy Isaacs and Taylor Downing, in their book Cold War, said the conference represented the high-water mark of Allied wartime collaboration. But they added: "Yalta revealed cracks in the Grand Alliance."

FDR's priorities were to get agreement on the formation of the United Nations, and to get Russia to join the war against Japan. He was less concerned about Europe. Stalin was focused on establishing a series of buffer states with the West to ensure that the Soviet Union would not be threatened.