That’s a funeral in the mirrorAnd it’s stopping at your face That’s right, it’s come to this Yes, it’s come to this And wasn’t it a long way down?
These are the words of an early Leonard Cohen song aptly titled “Dress Rehearsal Rag” that come to mind on what will be remembered as a notorious day in history. A day on which the insatiable Russian modern-day Caligula, under the name of Putin, spat even more forcefully in the face of humanity and brazenly declared that Russia was annexing a sizable part of Ukraine which it has seized by brute force.
Like Hitler before him, this rapacious monster claims to be acting in the interests of a master race – in this case the Russians – who he would have us believe have the unchallengeable right to lord over their neighbors, mendaciously interpret the past and present as they see fit for self-serving purposes, and cynically show utter contempt for the entire international order.
Now, recently, deprived of his use of Europe’s energy dependency on Russia as a political weapon, Putin has resorted to the only other element of blackmail he has left. As an irresponsible psychopath, he is waving his atomic weapons in the face not only of Ukraine and its supporters, but the entire world.
“I will get what I want, or to hell with all of you! My nuclear weapons will see to it! A great expansionist Russia with me at its helm, or you will all go down.”
Hitler, as the incarnation of evil, was bad enough. But Putin is implicitly striving to outdo him while failing to learn from all the inherent lessons.
In early 1938 a plebiscite was held in Austria with a manipulated vote, resulting in 99.7% approval for the Anschluss – Nazi Germany’s de facto annexation of Austria.
Later that year, before he carved up Czechoslovakia, Hitler managed to secure the acquiescence of British and French appeasers who naively believed that the concession was necessary to secure “peace in our time.”
The following September, having secured the collaboration of the Soviet Union, Hitler felt strong enough to attack Poland and face war with Britain and France.
And as we know, his ambitions did not end there. In June 1941 Hitler invaded the USSR and after initial spectacular military successes had to face devastating reverses and eventual defeat.
Although Hitler relied on Germany’s might, he utilized allies, such as Italy, Hungary, Romania, and Japan in Asia. But the entry of the U.S. into the war from 1942 onwards and Britain’s determination to fight on, together with the mighty force Stalin was able to mobilize eventually sealed his fate.
Despite the appalling killing and destruction Hitler unleashed, his vision of a thousand-year-Reich with its Lebensraum (bountiful living space) for Germans in the east on annexed territories, especially Ukraine, was finally exposed as the crazy pipedream of a demented dwarf who thought he was a giant.
Even his pathological determination to exterminate Europe’s Jews resulted in something he could hardly have imagined. Despite the horrendous scale of the Holocaust, the aftermath saw the creation and consolidation of the unvanquishable state of Israel which post-war German leaders have supported.
Nazi Germany was defeated, de-nazified and with the help of the Marshall Plan and opportunity to rejoin the democratic European fold as one of its co-founders able to recover economically and restore its reputation. Regrettably, Russia was never fully democratized nor the ugly truth about its tsarist autocracy and imperialism and Leninsit-Stalinist communist totalitarianism revealed and their legacy properly appraised.
Putin has ignored history’s lessons and the opportunities which Russia received after the dissolution of the Soviet communist totalitarian system to claim an honorable and influential place for his country in the international democratic community.
Instead, in the name of his own illusory greatness as the would-be restorer of Russia’s imperial greatness he has chosen to be on the wrong side of history by embracing its discredited, reprehensible and obsolete methods and standards.
Like Hitler, the disillusioned and embittered Austrian corporal who wanted to be the embodiment of a “great” German, Putin, the complexed insignificant Russian intelligence officer who rose to prominence as a servile aide of his subsequent post-Soviet political masters, has sought power and glory by claiming he is simply putting things right.
It has taken forms masking the kleptocratic dividends at home and opprobrium abroad behind appeals to traditional Russian chauvinism and the country’s lack of a developed modern democratic political culture.
Today, as if echoing Hitler, Putin is declaring that the annexed regions of Ukraine will be Russia’s forever.
Over the years Putin has been allowed to get away with all this by the Russian people and the softies in the outside world whom he has treated as “useful idiots.”
Now is not the time to mention once again the appeasers who made the situation we have possible – the Merkels, Macrons and Trumps of this world, and those who have stood by imperialist, anti-democratic and anti-Western Russia – China, India, Brazil, Hungary, and the like.
But today the truth has once again been rammed home and only the politically reckless “blind and deaf” can afford to ignore it. The Russian would-be latter-day emperor is not only naked, but delusional.
Allowing Putin to grab more and more territory while waving nuclear weapons around, issuing incessant threats, and continuing to indiscriminately kill and destroy those in his way, is the biggest threat facing humanity at this moment.
As Russian revolutionaries used to ask, “What is to be done?”
We need answers and solutions urgently. We cannot afford to tolerate this clear and present mortal danger any longer.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of the Kyiv Post.
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