Reductio ad Hillaryum

Why Hillary evoked memories of Hitler, but not Stalin, on the Ukrainian crisis.

9430680Hillary Clinton has waded into the Ukrainian crisis by invoking history. Referring to Vladimir Putin’s plans to provide passports to Russians outside the nation’s borders, she said:

“Now if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the ‘30s.”


She continued:

All the Germans that were. . . the ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying they’re not being treated right. I must go and protect my people, and that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous.

The former First Lady, a likely presidential candidate in 2016, is right about Hitler’s tactics but she ignores the “back in the '30s” history most applicable to Ukraine. The shot-caller back then was Joseph Stalin, and he set out to crush all vestiges of Ukrainian nationalism, as Russian tyrants had done for ages. Stalin had a different plan -- known as genocide.

In his forced collectivization campaign, Stalin raised Ukraine’s grain procurement quotas by 44 percent. That meant that there would not be enough grain to feed the people, but to make sure, Stalin also deployed regular troops and secret police units in a merciless war of attrition. And that condemned millions to death by starvation. That is genocide by any standard, but for Stalin it was a big success. As one of his commanders said, it showed the Ukrainians “who is the master here.”

That’s what Stalin did “back in the '30s” but Hillary Clinton ignored it entirely. Neither did she mention that in 1939 Stalin signed a pact with Hitler, and that the two dictators jointly invaded Poland. Poles remember that, and Ukrainians remember Stalin all too well, unlike American politicians.

Back in the 1930s Americans were not well informed about Stalinist genocide because of deliberate deception by Walter Duranty of the New York Times. At the very time Stalin was starving millions to death Duranty wrote that the Ukraine was a veritable cornucopia, flowing with milk and honey. In Duranty’s narrative famine was impossible under the scientific, planned economy of the USSR and the wise leadership of Stalin. 

Duranty was fond of saying, “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs” and “I put my money on Stalin.” Something similar is going on now.

Vladimir Putin laments the demise of the USSR and on his watch Stalin has been experiencing a revival. During the recent winter Olympics at Sochi, where Stalin’s villa has been carefully maintained, a Russian student told NBC that “Stalin took Russia to next level.”

Putin doubtless believes that and, as Hillary Clinton also said, Putin “believes his mission is to restore Russian greatness,” including control of former Soviet Union countries. “When he looks at Ukraine, he sees a place that he believes is by its very nature part of Mother Russia.”

That is true and imperialism is the highest stage of Putinism. Hillary Clinton won’t stop it by talking about Hitler. President Obama won’t stop it by essentially giving Putin everything he wants. And leftist Democrats like Dennis Kucinich won’t stop it by blaming the Ukraine crisis on the United States. That’s why in Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, everybody is so nervous.

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