The Putin is Hitler and the Ukraine is the Sudetenland Thing Again

A few weeks ago I noted that historical analogies can be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing when we learn the right things from correctly applying lessons learned from history to similar current events, and a curse when we make the wrong comparisons and thus draw the wrong conclusions.

Is Putin a modern day Hitler? We, especially in the US, tend to focus on Hitler's antisemitism and genocide when thinking about what made Hitler so bad. But WWII didn't start because Hitler was persecuting his own people. It started because he invaded country after country in order to 'protect' German minorities, to right the wrongs of maps that didn't mesh with his dreams of ethnic unity.

Given that, then, yes, Putin is a modern day Hitler. Over at Forbes, Paul Johnson agrees. But he takes the analogy one step further: The Western leaders are modern day Chamberlains:

What’s to stop Putin? The West is led by the modern equivalents of Chamberlain: President François Hollande of France is a political nonentity repudiated by his own compatriots; Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany have both ruled out the use of force to stop Putin from annexing Ukraine; and worst of all, President Barack Obama–the one man who has the power to stop Putin in his tracks–does nothing. He makes Neville Chamberlain seem like a bellicose activist.
Johnson goes on to say that we need to intervene militarily now, before it's too late. As I noted before, it's the same argument that Shirer made in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich -- had the Western powers intervened when Hitler sent troops into the Rhineland they would have nipped the problem in the bud before Germany had fully built up their military.

The question is ... what should our response be to Putin? Send the military into Ukraine to ensure that Putin doesn't invade is Johnson's idea. He thinks Putin wouldn't dare invade the remaining portions of Ukraine if US/NATO troops were there.

Me? I'm not so sure. If I understand correctly, the US has zero tanks left in Europe. I've no idea how many our NATO allies have but I can't imagine it would be enough to stop a land invasion through the Ukrainian steppe. We have air and sea superiority, but that only goes so far.

Also, the Ukraine isn't a member of NATO. We have no obligation to help it. If the Ukraine wanted our help, it should have signed on the dotted line years ago.

I guess there are two questions that I don't have great answers for: Should we even try to deter Putin from more land grabs so he won't try the same thing in NATO countries like Latvia & Estonia (also with large ethnic Russian enclaves)? And if we should try to nip this in the bud, then what are our feasible options given our weakened post-Cold War military stance in Europe and Europe's chronic under-spending on the military?

Posted by: Rusty at 11:03 AM


1 Rusty another similarity is that FDR was hobbled by the rightwing conservatives. Obama likewise knows only too well that whatever he does a substantial percentage of Americans will automatically disagree. FDR was attacked for his purported secret religion and he was also constantly called a socialist. FDR did however get the support if the country after Dec7 when the GOP became the loyal opposition. Attacking the POTUS does not strengthen him and Putin knows this.
What price IS the USA willing to pay to confront Putin ? Nuclear war? An economic attack that might cost say a trillion ? (Anything less might not be effective)
The fact is the USA will choose to do little.
Oh and one other thing if Chamberlain had not given Britain those extra years to get ready do you think Hitler might have had a better chance to win ? Was Britain prepared yo Jo yo war earlier ?

Posted by: Rightrt at April 17, 2014 03:15 PM

2 I seem to remember hearing that the US promised to defend the Ukraine if attacked by Russia in return for them removing the nuclear weapons that were left on their soil. If that's true, then it shows the worth of our American politicians' words.

Also, Russia is depending on their tanks to support their invasion, and the old Warthog is the best tank killer in the world, which is probably why Obummer is trying to kill it.

Posted by: TimothyJ at April 17, 2014 06:25 PM

3 It's often forgotten that Neville Chamberlain eventually did recognize his error and deploy the full might of the British army against Hitler. The Germans rolled over them along with the French, leading Chamberlain to resign and the surviving British to evacuate at Dunkirk. Compare that to today's head-in-sanders, and Chamberlain looks downright hawkish in comparison. They would call him a warmonger and war criminal for even considering military force, and a racist right-winger for failing to recognize the legitimate grievances of the oppressed German people. And as Rightrt pointed out, Britain under Chamberlain prepared for war as a last resort rather than cut their army in the hope it would reduce the possibility of war.

As for what the US should do in Ukraine, I would sell them as many weapons as could be shipped over there. Let them fight their own war, but let them have the tools to do it.

Posted by: Tang at April 17, 2014 07:08 PM

4 Greetings, Doctor Shackleford:

I'm currently reading Robert D. Kaplan's "The Revenge of Geography" which I would recommend as informative about the current trainwreck in Ukraine.

And speaking of trainwrecks, if you want to understand one, you've got to start in the barn. Today's burst of bemusement about the Ukraine came from the festivities in Geneva, where Ms. Ashton, the EU's Deputy Dog of a Foreign Minister continued her slide into the background as Secretary Kerry and President Obama continued to assume more and more of the public face of this mess. President Obama's speech earlier today convinced me of only that I'd really like to play some poker with the guy.

My intellectual conceit of the UKrainian moment is that after the EU so graciously opened the door to the Crimea for him, President Putin actually served up a hanging curve when he declared that what went down in the Maidan was an "anticonstitutional coup" which, of course, the brill-yentos from the West carefully ignored lest they assign themselves any responsibility for their lunacy.

What I have a hard time tolerating is the media's complicity in totally ignoring what went on from November to Crimea and keeping all the focus on Beast in the East. ON tonight's PBS Newshour, Margaret Warner described Putin's appearance on a call-in show as "preening, cocky, and confident", terms which in a previous lifetime were found to be so charming in our own President.

Posted by: 11B40 at April 17, 2014 08:00 PM

5 Now I'm expecting the complete break down of the USA as the progressives keep claiming must happen to "rebuild and create their Socialist Paradise" as they are the ones we were supposedly waiting for.
But their shining examples of their brilliance are Olympic Class failures of stupidity.
So then I expect complete anarchy, the zombie apocalypse, various mexican gangs, and assorted warlords. After that expect some dictator followed by a King over whatever ruins remain.
So I really do not care what Putin and the Europeanstan moslimes end up doing. Putin may end up having the most liveable place on the planet.

Posted by: Kafiroon at April 17, 2014 09:44 PM

6 I hate what's happening to Ukraine. But I don't think that the US can afford to respond militarily.

Posted by: Jedi Master Ivyan at April 17, 2014 10:21 PM

7 A supine and compliant Obama's self admitted "FLEXIBILITY" is of course, along with Putin's megalomania, the sole cause of the upcoming big war. Putin is one of the few that has concluded correctly that Obama hates the Western Democracies and the United States in particular. And that Obama will do absolutely NOTHING to protect the interests of the U.S. Obama is a traitor and Putin knows it. Putin will take territory until a strong American President is in office. By then however, the momentum of war may be too strong to stop. Yes, Putin is Hitler. Ukraine is the Sudetenland, And Obama is Chamberlain. I will not sacrifice my only son to save the Goddamn Europeans. My Dad fought in Europe; my son won't. Fuck them.

Posted by: nadadhimmi at April 19, 2014 09:39 AM

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