Here’s a sweet little glimpse into my inner workings - I have an immeasurable guilty pleasure for false analogies when it comes to politics. It’s the act of taking a pig of a fact and slapping enough make up on it to hopefully fool everyone at the prom into thinking that it’s your girlfriend, and the bravado needed to pull that off has me enamored. I’m talking about the type of article that takes something as menial as stumbling in a speech and screams “This is his ‘Bush pukes after bad sushi’ moment!” So you can imagine my excitement at the cornucopia of trash that the new Putin story arc has blessed us with.
The most obvious would be the Putin to Hitler dot-connecting, and it’s so trendy that even possible presidential contenders are joining the party. Hitler invading the Sudetenland is like Putin invading Crimea? Well duh, Hitler sent in troops to protect the native Germans from persecution and Putin occupied Crimea to keep it’s Russian descendants safe - They’re almost somewhat identical kind of! How about Hitler and Austria? Hitler demanded that Chancellor Schusnigg turn the whole operation over to the Austrian Nazis under the threat of invasion, and Ukrainian President Yanukovych speaks Russian just like Putin and “asked" for troops to be sent in, so the connection is there if you squint hard enough and maybe tilt your head a little in a dimly lit room. Maybe we go even further back, what’s the market value on a slathered Napoleon analogy? Crimea could be Putin’s Waterloo … yeah, I’m going to just let that one keep sailing over my head.
I’ll be damned if I miss out on the fun, too, so tell the conductor to lead the rhetoric train down my street because I’m throwing my hat into the ring. I raise you this - Putin is not Napoleon, is not Hitler, but is Otto von Bismarck and Crimea is his Schleswig. Wait guys, come back! It makes perfect sense. In 1863 Denmark annexed the German speaking Schleswig region and Bismarck took issue, leaving him with no other choice than to let the Prussian army do what it did best - Destroy until Prussia and the German Confederation was a Schleswig richer. You see what I’m seeing? Russia seems to not have been able to get over Ukraine claiming the Russian speaking Crimea after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with Russian troops having now been marched in. Mr. Publisher, my hand is primed and ready to sign that book deal now.
Well there will be no book deal, at least not for now (wink) because all of this speculation is rubbish. This game of guessing Putins spirit despot has been interesting page filler, but ultimately worthless. Putin is not Napoleon, he doesn’t have the accomplishments or the romantic fashion sense. Putin certainly isn’t Hitler, he doesn’t have the popularity or military force to be. And begrudgingly I must rescind my suggestion that Putin is Bismarck, because that was absolutely ridiculous. Putin is actually just a regular ol’, historically on point ruler of Russia.
Peter the Great never died, he just now heads Putins foreign relations department. Russia seems unwilling to let go of the old European idea of immediate border expansion that was relevant in a time when the Mughal Empire was a world player and Johannes Guttenberg was a young man with a dream. Even as other European nations set out across the seas to turn Asia, the Americas, and Africa into a global flea market, the Russians stayed right at home, slugging it out with the likes of the Turks and Swedes. A look at any other European nations global empire would look like scattered puzzle pieces, yet Russia’s is a big mass of cold, connected sorrow.
And as nation wars fell out of vogue in Europe during the latter half of the 20th century, there Russia was, picking on it’s neighbors to extend it’s influence radius. Afghanistan, Georgia, Abkhazia, Chechnya, South Ossetia, all regions that touched the Russian border. While powers such as the United States and Great Britain were getting bogged down world’s away, Russian troops were never more than a hop, skip and a jump from the motherland.
One of the unfortunate consequences that comes from a period of tyrannical rule is that it erases all historical reference up until that point. Any action taken by anybody with negative intentions will undoubtedly appear somewhere with a little black mustache photoshopped onto their faces. Putin’s encroachment and disregard in Crimea may be tempting for the doomsayers, but it is better for the understanding of any conflict to learn the unique history that has boiled over, instead of automatically jumping from zero to Hitler.