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Stop the Hitler Comparisons

Published: March 20, 2014 (Issue # 1802)


In response to Russia's intervention in Crimea, a powerful anti-Russian discourse is spreading across Western media. Russia's actions are compared to those of Nazi Germany, which incorporated Austria in 1938 before breaking up Czechoslovakia and igniting a World War. The implication is that the West must not follow France's and Britain's 1938 example by appeasing an aggressive Russia and that only tough actions may stop President Vladimir Putin from further expansion into Ukraine or even beyond.

Also by this author: Russia’s Tilt Toward China

In the U.S., politicians as different as Senator John McCain and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have endorsed the appeasement theory. Those with nationalist Eastern European roots, too, have been vocal in applying the theory to Russia. For example, writing in The Guardian, former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili darkly warned that "the cycles of appeasement usually get shorter with geometric progression" and that the longer Putin stays in power, the sooner he will be likely to "strike again."

We have watched this play before when those who stood in the way of U.S. hegemony were being compared to Hitler. First, it was former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic who refused to follow the U.S.-negotiated peace accord. Then came former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who was accused of building nuclear weapons and conspiring with al-­Qaida, none of which proved true. Unsurprisingly, Libya's Moammar Gadhafi and Syria's Bashar Assad were also compared to Hitler. Each time, the vision of a "bloody dictator" and "murderous thug" was heavily publicized in the Western media with the implication that the U.S. must urgently confront the aggressor and save global civilization from horrors of another holocaust and World War.

Also by this author: The Russophobia Card

None of these dictators elicit any sympathy, of course. Yet in each case, the comparison with Hitler was vastly overdrawn. Far from being Hitlers, they were regional strongmen with ambitions to control their own country by suppressing opposition. Although their foreign policies had a potential to destabilize their regions, none had an explicit expansionist design. Although the U.S. has no vital interests in those regions, it should speak out against gross violations of human rights. But it should have employed concerted diplomatic actions to address them. Instead, a regime change strategy was adopted. As a result, democracy was associated with putting a U.S.-friendly regime in power rather than supporting democratic processes. As to those daring to oppose the U.S.' global agenda, they risked to be isolated at best — and killed at worst.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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