Authoritarian Nationalist Invades To Protect Common Language Speakers While Poland Mobilizes Troops . . . Sound Familiar?

225px-Vladimir_Putin_official_portrait230px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-S33882,_Adolf_Hitler_retouchedWe have long discussed the authoritarianism of Vladimir Putin whose history of beating protesters and striping away press freedom was put aside briefly for the Olympic ceremonies. However, Putin appeared to be eager to stop the love fest and turn on Ukraine. For history buffs, however, there is something a bit unnerving in Putin invading a neighboring country to protect Russian-speakers who are welcoming the troops as protectors. In case the Sudetenland does not come to mind, Poland is now mobilizing troops along the border to bring the historical analogy home for the rest of the world. While I believe that this crisis will be contained and Putin is not ready for a wider war, it is no accident that the blind nationalism and authoritarianism would lead to expansionism. Ukraine is not the Sudetenland and Poland is no longer using horses to repel tanks. Putin’s desire for control of this port and Lebensraum may not be as easy to hold as it was to take.

Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-H13160,_Beim_Einmarsch_deutscher_Truppen_in_EgerPutin has already secured approval from the Duma to send in troops into Ukraine — notably not just the Crimea but the whole country. (I will note that our own Congress — both Democrats and Republicans alike — showed no more independence in approving the Iraq invasions. Indeed, some like Hillary Clinton are now frontrunners for the next presidency). Hitler cited the close ties to the region of Czechoslovakia and their common language as an excuse for the invasion while German-speakers in the country welcomed the occupation. To make the analogy even more interesting, this is the anniversary of the German invasion of March 1939.

The analogy has not escaped Poland which released the following statement: “History shows – although I don’t want to use too many historical comparisons – that those who appease all the time in order to preserve peace usually only buy a little bit of time.”

Putin’s move is a clear violation of international law. There was no serious unrest and no attack on Russian forces or territory. There was not even a basis for a preemptive attack in anticipation of such violence.

The combination of the invitation for invasion in the Crimea with today’s march in Moscow calling for invasion seems a case of history repeating itself.

170px-Russo-French_skirmish_during_Crimean_WarOf course, the jitters of the world are not helped by the fact that this is the location of the Crimean War between 1853-56 between Russia and France, Britain, the Ottoman Empire, and Sardinia. Russia lost.

I do not see a major role for the United States at the moment. Our involvement is only likely to trigger even greater insecurities that are so prominent in Russian history over its borders. While people in Congress are screaming to “get tough,” any direct intervention would be a domestic political move and serve no one’s interest in the Ukraine.

None of this history is likely to phase Putin who remains as he once was: a humorless, self-infatuated KGB Lt. Colonel. The one promising fact is the crashing of Russian stock. It will be interesting to watch, in a much more economically connected world, how the likely market pressures will affect Putin’s calculations.

147 thoughts on “Authoritarian Nationalist Invades To Protect Common Language Speakers While Poland Mobilizes Troops . . . Sound Familiar?

  1. Eastern Hemisphere Nicaragua Redux. Not any nicer in Ukraine than it was there. It ain’t right, but that’s the way the world works. I listened to people on both sides of that conflict, both of whom were sure they were right. All that was apparent to me was that it was a tragedy. Over here, we smash ’em. Over there, they smash ’em. At least there’s no big shooting yet, and will hope it doesn’t look like Northern Ireland by the weekend.

    • slohrss, There is a BIG difference between what the US did in Nicaragua, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Uraguay, Venezuela, Guatemala,, Cuba, Haiti, Honduras, Colombia, Equador, Bolivia and what Putin is doing. The US fought AGAINST free elections and the legitimate government in all those places. I don’t think Putin went far enough since I think he would be justified in restoring the freely elected government in the Ukraine. Of course, Putin is not in this to uphold freedom and democracy, so I think he will just protect the Russian assets, and let the dictatorship of the right go on with their purge of their opponents. I find it funny the concept of “freedom” many of the folks here have. It is freedom, ONLY if their buddies are in power. If they are not, it is not a free country, since they are prevented from looting the place.

  2. Breaking News: Ukraine maybe split into 2 countries. FoxNews reporting a referundum is on the table for the split to occur!

    • But the Ukraine is one country and NATO and the US will NOT stand for free elections to decide this! At least not according to our Cold Warriors here.

  3. But the Ukraine is ONE country and the US and NATO will not stand for free elections to decide that question! At least not in the eyes of our Cold Warriors here.

  4. Randy, I agree with you on central-south America on the details. My point was the very sad situation for all the people involved on both sides. I still have to hope that if Putin wants to build a big central asian trading block, it would be much easier and more effective if he didn’t mow down the first problem in front of him. That would surely make me want to reach out immediately to the EU. I think he has been pretty honorable about a whole ugly situation. I think he is trying to handle it in a Bismarck fashion. I just don’t see where giving Ukraine the steam-rolling Czechoslovakia-Hungary treatment serves his future ambitions very well. As you know, this directly affects future deals with other countries, including China, which he will have to address for security concerns sooner or later.

  5. I did see Ron Paul talking about the possibility of having 2 countries. Made sense. What will be interesting is if Putin can do it. Is he a meglomaniac who wants the whole pie or is he going to settle with protecting his interests in the Crimea. AND… will the Ukrainians want to have 2 countries. I think they need to get the plan out soon before new shooting starts. It’s coming. Someone (like a young Serb pre WWI) can ruin the whole thing.

    • There is a very good article in the New Republic about the situation in the Ukraine. She makes one slight error in that she says Trotsky supported suppressing Lenin’s report on the nationalities question. Trotsky and Lenin had concluded to make common cause against Stalin and his supporters, so her saying Trotsky was for suppressing that report is not quite right.

      In fact, after Lenin died, the right wing of the Bolsheviks teamed up with Stalin to suppress his last testament which recommended getting rid of Stalin from his post as General Sec. of the CP. THAT was suppressed. Lenin had heard rumors of how Stalin was conducting affairs in his ministry, and sent his wife to find out the facts from Stalin’s office. Stalin simply refused to allow her in to investigate and threw her out! That did not sit well with Lenin at all, and had he not had another stroke and died, the Soviet Union would have been a FAR different place than it became. Or as Churchill put it, The Russians second worst misfortune was Lenin’s birth. Their worst misfortune was his death.

  6. The other troubling thing is that this has such a WWI vibe about the whole thing. If things go down the tubes, shots fired, Putin protects Russians, EU-US support Serbs… China gets support from an ally in China for the Senkakus (sp…), Israel takes the opportunity to hit Iranian facilities… We strike Syria…. . I do remember from my studies the powers that be at the dawn the great war felt that disagreement wouldn’t last longer than 90 days. I’m sure they had no idea the enormity of their collective miscalculations.

  7. Very interesting. I am curious and will check that out.
    Also, so far I have been glad to see Kerry and Nuland didn’t give the puppet pres there the idea that he would be supported if he decided to fire on Russian troops. It would have been ugly quickly. Bay of Pigs ugly. Doesn’t help there are still so many talking heads who want to start shooting.

    • But unfortunately we have lots of such Cold Warriors here who hate the idea of free elections if their boys lose. It seems that anything that is anti-Russian is good enough for them. Of course, they have nothing to say when Turkey invaded Cyprus and advocated no action against them. HELL they did not even kick them out of NATO. The double standard and ignorance is astounding. Or as Darren so eloquently put it, to paraphrase, I don’t care what facts are, I BELIEVE.

  8. Professor Turley, you appear to be a hypocrite when you focus on the other side of the globe and don’t recognize the “Reconquista” here. Mexico has illegally invaded and reconquered the American Southwest. California is a one party foreign dictatorship. You are hypocritical when you notice the “heinous” actions of Putin while missing the usurpation of legislative power by the executive branch in arbitrarily modifying legislation which is exclusively, and by definition, the purview of the legislative branch.

    You ignore the Preamble as an “introduction” when it is the very American context – not the “intent” of the Founders but the very words and actions of the Founders. In this instance, the Founders told us that they PROVIDED FOR THE COMMON DEFENSE, not offense. Is it possible to defend America while sending the military 10,000 miles around the globe? With all due respect, you ignore the invasion of this country and concern yourself with Russia which the Crimeans want to be part of.

    Similarly, you profess law and ignore the unconstitutional usurpation of legislative power by the executive branch. Here is some “law” for you. Impeach and convict the tyrannical chief executive for multiple high crimes and misdemeanors and defend the national borders. At what point is tyrannical usurpation actionable?

    After that, go on retreat and read the Preamble. Did the Founders write it to be ignored? If they wrote it to be heeded, it prevails. See if you don’t come to understand that the Founders set the parameters within which the Constitution provides for governance. Read it well, see if the Founders did not limit government to security and infrastructure while facilitating the “blessings of liberty” (i.e. our endeavors, businesses and industries) to ourselves and our posterity so that we may “pursue happiness” in free and open markets in the private sector, including what should be the private education, charity and healthcare industries. In the late 18th century, general welfare meant infrastructure, not a cash payment. Unless the Founders had not a firm grasp of the English language, they deliberately excluded individual welfare assuming self-reliance was attendant to freedom.

  9. “Similarly, you profess law and ignore the unconstitutional usurpation of legislative power by the executive branch.”

    Has John been living under a rock the last couple of months?

    • I am once again astounded at how many people think that a violent overthrow of a freely elected President is a GOOD thing. I would like some folks who support this coup to explain why it is good. The only way I know of to determine the will of the people is through elections, unless of course one is clairvoyant or thinks one is. It would make Orwell turn in his grave to see this idiocy of praising a coup be seen as the “will of the people” and to denounce the Russians for seeking to allow the people of the Crimea to have an election to decide their fate. The US had NO such problem in splitting Kosovo from the traditional homeland of Serbia. So why is the US aggression against Serbia good, and Russia BAD for doing the SAME thing the US did? It becomes surreal when the US supports the illegal coup, and then denounces Russia for violating international law.

      I wish that we had a free press to ask Obama the question Why is it good for the US to support the coup that overthrew the elected President and voided an election? Of course such a question will never be asked since we no longer have any real journalists, only propagandists.

  10. samantha:

    interesting story and believable but it is for them to take care of it. We should offer moral support and condemn his actions and recall diplomats and other things short of sending troops. It isnt our fight.

    She is right about Putin being afraid, I said as much above. He is worried about swinging head down from a light pole.

  11. This guy has the most realistic view of Ukraine of anyone I’ve read in the West, in spite of the fact that he misses the mark about ethnic immigrants who lost it all, including their lives, in the early and mid 20th Century. For anyone who values a deeper perspective of Ukraine and the FSU, this is an excellent read.

    How the Ukraine crisis ends
    By Henry A. Kissinger
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/henry-kissinger-to-settle-the-ukraine-crisis-start-at-the-end/2014/03/05/46dad868-a496-11e3-8466-d34c451760b9_story.html

  12. Al Jazeera journalists have a far better grip on the dynamics in Ukraine than any of the posers in the US media, White House, too. An impressive, in depth study of post Cold War reality, required reading for anyone who values accuracy when commenting.

    Ukraine: Goodbye Cold War, hello globalised economy
    Al Jazeera English
    Remi Piet
    http://m.aljazeera.com/story/20143645051692739

  13. Annieofwi, thank you. We are all aware, and nothing is done. Been here done this. When are there consequences? The Preamble is ignored. The Constitution is ignored. Professor Turley’s protestations are ignored. The Judicial Branch is a political party not an objective arbiter. The Executive is on a juggernaut. The Legislative is an enabler. America is a free-for-all.

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