In the Ukraine Crisis, Western Warmongers Try to Overturn Results of World War II
Not every American was happy to be in an alliance with the Soviets during World War II. The Red Scare of the 1920’s, admiration for Hitler’s efficiencies of putting people to work in the midst of a worldwide economic depression, building the autobahns and even his anti-Semitism had some support in the United States.
Hitler never really believed that England and the United States would continue to fight Germany, rather than join with the Nazis in a war against the communist USSR. He was almost right. When World War II ended in Europe, General George Patton was gung ho for continuing on into the Soviet Union. Others felt that since we were the only nation with the atomic bomb, better to use it early against the Russians than give them a chance to catch up.
What ensued was the Cold War. Russia, having been invaded twice in twenty-five years by the Germans, sought a defense in depth from the peace. Consequently, the Russians took the eastern parts of Germany and the defeated axis powers and appended them to the western parts of Poland and the Ukraine, enabling the Soviets to move its own borders further west. Now, these adjustments have come back to haunt the Russians, as the new states of Poland and Ukraine are far more Western than their pre-war predecessors.
Since the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in 1989 and the Soviet Union followed suit, the United States and NATO have been nibbling at the edges of Russian interests. Starting with German’s effectively unilateral recognition of Croatia that heralded the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, the New World Order of George H. W. Bush thumbed its nose at Russia’s interests in its client state of Iraq and waged war to defend Kuwait and hopefully, inter alia, topple Saddam Hussein.
The United States was happy to help Georgia and Azerbaijan break the Soviet hegemony in the Caucasus. It insisted that placing missiles in Poland, over Soviet objections, was a defense against Iran. And since 9/11, when the United States has been a significant presence in Afghanistan and staging supplies for that war in the abutting former Soviet Republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, it is not surprising that Vladimir Putin is feeling a bit oppressed.
Countries, as countless statesmen have noticed over the centuries, have no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only permanent interests. One of Russia’s enduring permanent interests is its desire to have a warm water port for year round access to the sea. So, as the Ukraine started drifting further and further into the Western orbit, the idea of its taking the Crimean peninsula, rich in Russian history as the home of the Black Sea Fleet in Sebastopol, of the famous Yalta conference in World War II, and the site of Russian defense during the Crimean War was too much for Putin to bear. The Russian president takes seriously the Soviet contribution to the victory in World War II especially because his parents lived in Leningrad and his mother lived through the siege.
Now, Vladimir Putin is a disgusting person and something of a thug. But this does not mean that he is wrong in defending Russian interests in the Crimea and Ukraine. The United States invades Iraq and Afghanistan, supports every Israeli aggression, overthrows the government in Libya, thwarts Islamic democracies in Egypt and Algeria, and abets the conflict in Syria, another Russian client, all in the name of democracy and good works. It is not difficult to understand why the Russians are angry.
In short, the map of central Europe today looks like Germany won the war. Maybe the Russians have had enough. The Russian exposure of the NSA bug planted in the world’s hard drives is payback. In some ways, Russia remains a superpower.