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Thursday, March 13, 2014


Putin vs. Hitler; is there a parallel between Sudetenland and Crimea?

Our local morning drive-time talk radio host, Tony Macrini, was waxing wroth over people who were critical of Obama’s handling of the crisis in Europe as Russia absorbs part of Ukraine. There are those, including Richard Cohen, a liberal columnist of the Washington Post who thought it might be time to apologize to Neville Chamberlain.

Recalling that Hitler’s excuse for taking the Sudetenland was that he wanted to protect the Germans who lived there, Cohen writes:
Putin is demanding for Crimea more or less what Hitler wanted for the Sudetenland: Russians ought to be in Russia.
Macrini won’t hear of the parallel. In fact, it’s an axiom that if you compare anything or anyone to Hitler (it even has a name: 'Argumentum Ad Hitlerum') you are assumed to automatically lose the argument. For example, Hitler was a vegetarian, but it’s ridiculous to conclude that vegetarians are little Hitlers. Hitler was an enthusiastic supporter of building the autobahn, that doesn’t make politicians who are in favor of building the interstate highways are like Hitler. Mike Godwin formulated what’s known as “Godwin’s law” which states “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.” However, if a leader starts to demand that his supporters salute him with a raised arm, or thinks that Jews should be exterminated, does Godwin’s law or a logical fallacy  -'Argumentum Ad Hitlerum' - occur?

I can understand why Liberals have been so fond of comparing conservatives to Hitler. Popular culture thinks of Hitler as a right-winger. Nothing could be further from the truth. First, Hitler headed the National Socialist German Workers Party (NAZI). He was labeled a right-winger by Stalin after he invaded Russia and thanks to the Left’s influence on culture, the label stuck. In reality, Hitler competed with the Communists in Germany for power, but it was really a civil war among members of the Left rather than a right-left battle.  In fact many Communists joined Hitler during the struggle.

That hasn't stopped the Left.  Google “Bush Hitler” and get 40 million links, Reagan gets a mere 5.4 million, Romney 13 million and Rush Limbaugh gets almost a million without even holding office. Now Hitler was a very bad man and is probably the most reviled human being most people of this century know, but he is not the record holder for people killed in the last century. Those records were held by two Communist tyrants who managed to reduce the world’s population by somewhere between 50 and 100 million – each.

I think it’s entirely appropriate to compare people to Hitler if there is a similarity. And Putin’s annexation of the Crimea is stunningly similar to Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland. Even the exuses are the same. In fact Putin’s move was quicker and involved less diplomatic maneuvering. Few people doubt that Putin rules Russia and that those who oppose him wind up hurt, imprisoned or dead. So far, there is no Putin salute ... yet.

Macrini reflects the opinion of lots of people in the US who are reflexively opposed to foreign intervention. Some, like Macrini, are old enough to have been traumatized by Viet Nam. Most people see the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as either wrong or badly botched. Libertarians are ideologically inclined to oppose sending military forces outside of America’s borders. Some look at our participation in World War 1 as ill advised, although World War 2 was called the "good war" because of Japan’s direct attack on our fleet at Pearl Harbor. Prior to that attack a large number of Americans wanted nothing to do with the war in Europe or Japan's wars in Asia. That feeling disappeared after “the day that will live in infamy.”  America entered the war and 418,000 American deaths later, the war was over.

What’s interesting to me is that the anti-war faction in England, before the beginning of World War 2, was probably in the majority. And why not? They had vastly more reason to be war weary than we. Europe lost an entire generation less than 20 years earlier in what they called “The Great War.” The last thing they wanted to do was to repeat that disaster; a disaster as much for the victors as the vanquished. The British and their allies had 22 million casualties while the Germans and their allies suffered over 15 million. America’s casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan total less than 60,000, mostly wounded, but that’s enough to make a large part of the American public say "enough."  Especially if the popular culture persuades the public that these wars were either wrong or – worse yet - based on a lie.

Let’s get in the Wayback Machine and see what British attitudes were to Hitler’s demands for the annexation of part of Czechoslovakia in 1938. And why Tony Macrini and Neville Chamberlain have so much in common.

. . . I want to say that the settlement of the Czechoslovak problem which has now been achieved is, in my view, only a prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace.
-- Neville Chamberlain, 30 September 1938

There’s a little back story to the events that led up to Munich that most people are not aware of. Hitler had told his Generals that he wanted to "smash" Czechoslovakia militarily with an attack on October 1, 1938.

But the German generals knew that an attack on Czechoslovakia could bring in Britain and France, and possibly even Soviet Russia. The German Army believed it wasn’t ready for this. It only had 31 fully armed divisions while the French alone had over 100 divisions and Czechoslovakia had 45 divisions plus a heavily fortified defense line along the border with Germany.

The top leaders of the German officer corps met and plotted to arrest Hitler the moment he gave the order to invade. But the plan would only work if Britain and France made it know they would fight if Hitler moved to invade Czechoslovakia. So they sent agents to England to inform the Chamberlain government of their plan. The problem was that the British didn’t believe them. In addition, Chamberlain had his own peace agenda and preferred to negotiate, even to the extent of carving out a piece of Czechoslovakia and giving it to Hitler.

People who proposed appeasement believed that their concession was the end of Hitler’s ambitions. When that proved not to be the case, they actually enabled the war that they were anxious to avoid.

From British reaction to the Munich Crisis:
The appeasement proponents looked back to the Great War and the Treaty of Versailles as the causes of the Sudeten minority controversy. They viewed World War I as useless destruction caused by Allied fear of Germany's power. In their view, the Allies needed their combined strength to defeat Germany; then, by force, they imposed the harsh Versailles Treaty upon Germany while it was weak. They did this to permanently cripple Germany and prevent it from ever threatening the Allies or the balance of power on the Continent again. George Glasgow, writing in the Contemporary Review, viewed World War I as having no purpose because the Allies failed to achieve their objective of permanently weakening Germany. Despite defeat in 1918, Germany was again the strongest military power twenty years later. Pointing out that the effect of defeat did not last, Glasgow believed that a world war would have to be fought every twenty years to keep Germany down. He argued that there was no way to stop the inevitable German dominance since defeat in war did not. Lord Elton claimed in the Fortnightly Review that it was the Allies who caused the formation of the Nazi party because of the harsh Versailles provisions that aimed to weaken Germany. This harsh treaty, which the Allies failed to revise caused the German people to gravitate towards the ultra-nationalist Nazis. He also criticized the League of Nations for not fulfilling its promise to revise the Versailles treaty.

Like current advocates of appeasement, the advocates in 1938 believed that Germany has legitimate grievances. And they may have been right. But they were totally wrong about the extent of Hitler’s ambitions.

… Robert Parker, writing in the Fortnightly, regarded the Czechs as ruthless people bent on dominating the other nationalities under them. …

…In his editorial letter in The Times (London), Archibald Ramsay described the Czechs as vicious exploiters of the Sudeten Germans…

… An editorial in The Times argued that Czech reforms considering the Sudetens should have been carried out a long time ago and claimed that if the problem was addressed earlier, there would have been no crisis.

…J. A. Spender, writing in the Contemporary Review, saw the Czechs as victims of their own mistake of not solving the problem of the Sudeten Germans.

…Arthur Bryant, writing for the Illustrated London News, believed that the Sudetens were subjected to the rule of an alien race due to a humiliating peace treaty.

…Ramsay thought it senseless to fight to deny the democratic right of the Sudeten Germans for self-determination. A war, he believed, would cost millions of lives and would be fought so the Czechs could continue to oppress their German minority.

… Robert Parker argued that Hitler would not go to war since Czechoslovakia was completely at his mercy but contradictorily stated that the maintenance of Czechoslovakia was important as a barrier to Hitler.

… J.A. Spender proposed that the Sudeten problem be settled early by negotiation since it may have escalated beyond control.

…The Times advocating territorial revision consistently throughout the crisis, printed on 7 September 1938, an editorial that favored the partition of Czechoslovakia: . . . it might be worth while for the Czechoslovak Government to consider whether they should exclude altogether the project, which has found favour in some quarters, of making Czechoslovakia a more homogenous state by the secession of that fringe of alien populations who are contiguous to the nation with which they are united by race.

… John Fischer Williams, in his editorial letter to The Times, advocated a plebiscite to resolve the controversy.

… D.A.W. Hamilton stated his unique solution to the crisis in an editorial letter to The Times. He believed the crisis could have been solved without the transfer of territory by the exchange of populations.

With 20/20 hindsight we know how things turned out. Those who wanted to believe that Hitler had no ambitions beyond the Sudetenland were wrong.

What are Putin’s ambitions? Is he really concerned with the ethnic Russians in the Crimea? Not even Tony Macrini is that gullible. Putin is quoted as saying that the dissolution of the USSR was illegal and that it was a geopolitical catastrophe. Those are the words of a man who would like to reconstitute the Soviet Union.

So what’s to be done?
The time to stop the next major war is to make sure that those who would force the world into that catastrophe are stopped early. That does not mean we have to go to war with Russia over Crimea. What it does mean is to take steps to let Putin know that he’s crossed a line. And that means something more than denunciations in the UN and shaking our fingers at Putin. It means that we need to be willing to coordinate our military efforts with those countries that are threatened by the Russians. It means that there can be no more free land-grabs for Putin. And it means to look for people, like the German generals in 1938 who were ready to depose Hitler, who are willing to depose Putin.    Which will mean some saber rattling as well as some actual military brinkmanship to see if Putin is really ready to go to war rather than picking on defenseless victims.

UPDATE:  The Wall Street Journal today (3/14/2014) has an analysis that is exactly right.  History does not repeat itself, but, as the Bible says, there is nothing new under the sun.  We are not wiser, smarter or better people than we were before.  That's something to keep in mind as you read this:
We see Vladimir Putin as re-enacting the Cold War. He sees us as re-enacting American greatness. We see his actions as a throwback. He sees our denunciations as a strutting on the stage by a broken down, has-been actor.

Mr. Putin doesn't move because of American presidents, he moves for his own reasons. But he does move when American presidents are weak. He moved on Georgia in August 2008 when George W. Bush was reeling from unwon wars, terrible polls and a looming economic catastrophe that all but children knew was coming. (It came the next month.) Mr. Bush was no longer formidable as a leader of the free world.

Mr. Putin moved on Ukraine when Barack Obama was no longer a charismatic character but a known quantity with low polls, failing support, a weak economy. He'd taken Mr. Obama's measure during the Syria crisis and surely judged him not a shrewd international chess player but a secretly anxious professor who makes himself feel safe with the sound of his voice.

Mr. Putin didn't go into Ukraine because of Mr. Obama. He just factored him in.
"He just factored him in."   That says it all, doesn't it; because Obama is not the kind of factor that would make Putin, or even some Satrap in the Sahara pause.

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The U.S. State Dept. has been infested with communists since WW1 and Woodrow Wilson... they tried to steal the Russian elections for their comrades in the Russian Communist Party through non-profit n.g.o.s... just like at home in America... but Vladimir Putin beat them... so they launched a fággot jihad against the Russian Orthodox church over the the punk rock band and the Olympics... they even flew in Madonna as a provocateur.

Obama, McCain, Clinton, Romney, Bush, Kerry, etc. are all full of shít just like the European Union...

I won't fight a war for any of them, none of them are protecting the borders of the United States, they are all traitors and are not worth defending.

You do find Russian soldiers on the Russian border and you won't find any gay pride marches.

"Spread the other cheek" is a horrible military strategy... While Leon Puñettas was so busy with gay pride celebrations at the Pentagon, three Navy Seals and a U.S. ambassador were murdered, all because everyone was being so fúcking gay.
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