Any alliance whose purpose is not the intention to wage war is senseless and useless. Adolf Hitler.
Shades of Nazi Germany's Fuhrer Adolf Hitler! The parallels between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Twentieth Century's mass murderer of so many millions, while seeking world domination by his adopted nation, are indeed eerie. Even the recent stress on Olympic success resonates: Putin strove for medals in Sochi to show Russian athletic superiority; Hitler tried, unsuccessfully, to use the 1936 Berlin Olympics to prove Aryan supremacy. And just as Hitler hated the Jews, Putin detests homosexuals. Above all, though their times are eighty years apart in history, when it comes to Hitler's Fatherland and Putin's Motherland, they are cut from the same cloth of attempted world domination.
Which brings us to the current major crisis for Ukraine -- and for all of us. Again, the parallels are uncanny. Hitler broke the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I, through a series of aggressive military moves, including the annexation of his own homeland, Austria, in March, 1938, followed by the successful invasion of Poland on September 1,1939. Russian President Vladimir Putin has violated various international treaties, standards, and laws by sending troops into the Crimea region of Ukraine, which has ethnic ties to Russia -- but nevertheless is part of a separate sovereign nation. Like Hitler's invasions, Putin's incursion into Crimea has been rubber-stamped by his own parliament.
Philosopher George Santayana often said that those who fail to learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat it. One of the most important lessons of World War II is that failure to take forceful and effective action in the early days of a conflict inevitably leads to increased and often-intolerable conflicts later. Dictators and pseudo-dictators always test the waters before jumping in wholeheartedly. When Adolf Hitler tested those waters in the 1930's, the world looked the other way at his incursions and invasions. It was even said that the terms of the Treaty of Versailles had been so harsh against Germany that the rise of a dictator preaching Aryan supremacy while practicing war was understandable. Understandable, perhaps -- but those practices should have been totally unacceptable.
That process of "turning a blind eye" to Hitler's territorial aspirations came close to leaving the entire world blinded. While we may not yet be certain of all of Vladimir Putin's territorial and other aspirations, they undoubtedly exist, and are undoubtedly hostile to world peace and the best interests of humanity. Anyone who thinks Putin will stop upon gaining control of the Crimea region of Ukraine is an incurable optimist. The West has but two choices: stop Putin now, or risk one more World War later, and a potential thermonuclear war this time.
When Albert Einstein was asked what weapons would be used in the next major war, he responded that he did not know the answer to that question, but in the war after that one, the weapons would be sticks and stones. We cannot allow Vladimir Putin, or anyone else, to use threats and bullying tactics -- combined with our timidity -- to cause that doomsday outcome. The time to stop this 21st Century Adolf Hitler is here and now. "Later" is likely to be too late.
Eugene Elander has been a progressive social and political activist for decades. As an author, he won the Young Poets Award at 16 from the Dayton Poets Guild for his poem, The Vision. He was chosen Poet Laureate of (more...)