A lot of the justification for supporting Ukraine against Russia is based upon the memory of World War Two – specifically, the run-up to it when the Western powers had multiple opportunities to stop Hitler early and at relatively low cost, thus sparing the world the horrors of World War Two and the Holocaust. In today’s world, Putin is Hitler and Ukraine is the Rhineland or Austria…or maybe even Czechoslovakia. The main thing being asserted is that we must stop Putin on the Don or we’ll eventually face Putin on the Vistula, or maybe even on the Rhine.
This is drivel.
Putin isn’t Hitler. That is, Putin – as much a rat-bastard as you want him to be – isn’t propagating an ideology of racial superiority where everyone not of the Master Race must die or become slaves. That was the unique threat of Hitler and it simply does not exist in Putin. And this is true even if he wants to reassemble the entirety of the Russian Empire. Bad? Sure. But not an embodiment of human evil which all decent people must stand against. Unless you want to assert that any rule not consented to is absolutely immoral and must be stopped…in which case, gear up for lots of war all around the world because there are submerged peoples everywhere.
Additionally, Putin’s Russia is not Hitler’s Germany in the military sense. In 1939 the Germans had a well trained army led by officers of the highest caliber who knew how to rapidly move forces towards strategic objectives. World War One showed that even absent a Hitler, Germany with its marvelous General Staff was a standing threat. As we have seen in Ukraine, the Russian military isn’t remotely of that quality. They are building up now for what looks like will be a traditional Russian steamroller – just going to flatten the Ukrainians by sheer weight of numbers. It may work; but whether it does or doesn’t, it still won’t amount to a military force capable of arriving on the Rhine any time soon.
The bottom line is that there are no more Hitlers to fight. Almost certainly, there never will be another Hitler to fight. The more you stand back in time and look at it the more astonished you grow over the whole thing – how entirely out of phase it was with humanity. That a decidedly second-rate intellect like Hitler’s could galvanize a people to follow where he lead even though it was pretty obviously suicidal astonishes…and you then mourn that this wicked beast of a man inherited an industrial base and General Staff capable of at least giving his insane ideas a shot. But, he won’t be repeated. He can’t be repeated; the particular circumstances which gave rise to him don’t exist and can’t ever exist again. We don’t have to worry, that is, about having that one, last chance to stop a Hitler – because there is no Hitler to stop.
And without a Hitler, things become a bit more reasonable. Keep in mind that World War Two in Europe went on two years after the Germans were decisively defeated and where further resistance was just going to lead to lots of useless deaths and the utter physical destruction of Germany. Anyone other than Hitler would have called it quits after Kursk, or at the latest when the Allies established themselves in Normandy. He kept it going because he was insane – certain that if he just willed victory, it would still come even though the material factors demonstrated conclusively that it could not come. Putin isn’t like that – he’ll fight as long as he thinks he can get advantage out of it and as soon as costs exceed benefits, he’ll call it quits and make peace…even if just a temporary peace while he plans the next round. The Chinese, too, are not insane: they may well attack us or our allies and they’ll fight hard…and if they can decisively defeat us, they will; but whether in victory of defeat, they will be reasonable…quitting if the gamble fails and not dreaming of exterminating us and colonizing the United States if victorious – Hitler, keep in mind, had named Goebbles Gauleiter of the USA…his job to exterminate all Jews, blacks, Slavs and other undesirables and turn the remaining population into Germans. We simply do not face that, no matter how badly the Chinese defeat us in a theoretical future war.
Whether or not we decide to help Ukraine is then not an existential question, but a prudential judgement. The fate of the world does not hang in the balance. The enemy does not propose to alter the world to fit his views…he just wants to grab some things and then profit from the theft. It is, then, just the normal run for a war. And if you are not directly attacked, then the decision to intervene must be based upon the cold, hard realities of what your nation needs. And in this I’ve yet to see a rational argument for why the USA must be concerned about who governs Ukraine. I cannot see any threat to the territorial integrity of the USA. I can’t see that our Republican form of government will topple with a Russian army in Kiev. I see no concern about our naval supremacy if Russia obtains a naval base in Odessa. There is no worry that Russian goods produced in Ukraine will crowd American products out of the global market. The only defensible war is a war of defense – what American thing is defended in Ukraine? If you can provide that, then I might see my way to supporting American intervention…but the war has gone on for a year and I still can’t see anything for an American to be concerned with.
This is not to say that nobody else should be concerned. Poland and Romania should be deeply concerned. As should the Baltic States and to a lesser – but still great – degree Germany, France and Britain. The combined populations and industrial capacity of these most concerned nations are vastly more than Russia’s: if I were German or French or Polish, I would be working very diligently to build the military force and forge the iron-clad alliances necessary to ensure that my side can issue Russia an ultimatum and make it stick. But I am not German, French of Polish. I am American; and I’ve no concern in this matter.
It is time for we, the people of the United States, to stop looking for foreign dragons to slay. We won’t find any. After Hitler’s death and the dissolution of the USSR, there is no ideology outside the USA proposing to destroy us. That we have our own, internal enemies seeking our destruction is another issue, but is actually another reason to come home: we have enough on our plate inside the USA to take up our time…we don’t need foreign problems in addition.
And the world really doesn’t want us to fix things. Sure, they want us to pay for the Ukraine war. If it goes south, they’ll be delighted to watch American teenagers being blown to pieces to retrieve the situation. But they don’t want to obey us; they don’t want to change. They want to keep their fetid, little hatreds and bigotries…their ridiculous customs and slavish devotion to local mountebanks. Everyone likes it when someone pays for dinner – nobody likes it when that guy comes home and tries to organize your life for you. We have no business outside the United States. It is not our concern. We are our concern. And as we have nuclear weapons, carrier battle groups and 400 million privately owned firearms, nobody is ever going to try to invade us. Stop looking for the ghost of Hitler – come home and let the world be.
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