I wasn’t the first, nor will I be the last person to equate Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent incursions into the Ukraine with the early days of Hitler.
While there are some obvious contradictions between the two, there are also striking similarities that should concern us all.
The end of the Cold War and downfall of the Soviet Union was seen as a victory for freedom around the world. For the most part, the breakaway republics conducted free and open elections and allowed their citizens the right to self-determination. We all cheered, even though it was messy in places.
In Putin’s Russia, this was seen as a defeat. A horrible loss that embarrassed his country on the world stage, and led by the United States, made Russia look weak and ineffectual. So he (and the Russian ruling class) bided their time. Twenty years ago they were not strong enough to do anything about it. Now, they are, AND they perceive the United States as preoccupied and not particularly interested in a fight. And he may have a point.
So like Hitler, Putin is a leader who promises his people to right the wrongs of the last war (World War I vs. Cold War), stand up to the “bullies” who were at the root of their humiliation (America in both cases) and restore his countries rightful place as the world’s greatest superpower (Germany vs. Russia).
And like Hitler, the more the world threatens and shakes their fist at him, the stronger he becomes to his people. Vladimir Putin is the ONE RUSSIAN ON THE PLANET who can stand up to Obama, NATO and the UN … and the Russians love it.
We saw what happened when the world attempted to reason with Hitler and appeased his ever-increasing hostility. It remains to be seen how Putin will respond to the threats of sanctions and resolutions, but I think it’s fair to say we probably won’t like his decisions. And he’s just fine with that.