Besides being Labor Day in the U.S., today is the 75th Anniversary of the start of World War II.
Six years later, in 1945, over 60 million men, women and children had been horrifically killed by world powers, partisans, and their own governments. That works out to 27,400 people killed every day for six years. In a “civilized” world, and in the living memory of many today.
The trigger for the start was Germany’s invasion of Poland on a trumped up border dispute. The seeds of the war were planted deep in the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I only twenty years before.
That terrible treaty encouraged anarchy and ensuing dictatorial tyranny in the losing states of Russia, Germany and Austria. The latter were modeled in part on the appeal of fascism in Italy and Spain. The Versailles Treaty planted the dark seeds for the awful harvest which began in 1939.
But the roots which grew the tyranny were nurtured for two decades by the lack of either domestic or international resistance to the programs and methods of the thugs who took over in each of the above states.
The Bolsheviks are only a sliver of society—mad men. They will be arrested and deported again.
Hitler has been elected, but German institutions and the Army will never let him carry out the plans he has laid out in Mein Kampf.
They may have been mad, and “throwbacks to an earlier era”, but once the Bolsheviks and the Nazis were in power they used violence, threats, propaganda, and terror to get their way.
There were plenty of good, decent Russians in 1918 and good decent Germans in 1933. But they either did nothing or were ineffective, largely because they were splintered and refused to work with other good people to stop the thugs.
Only a few years later the good, decent people did not matter at all. The thugs had taken over.
How many good, decent Muslims and Russians are there today? Many. But because Islamic jihadists and Putin use violence, threats, the state media and terror to get their way, do the decent people matter any more?
If no internal push-back is possible in the Mideast or Russia, then international pressure is the only hope to prevent another major period of war and darkness, as the thugs push for ever more power and territory.
Hitler invaded Poland seventy-five years ago today because he believed that the Allies would either do nothing, or else be ineffective.
It is critical that the West, and the U.S. as the leader of the West, push back hard in both cases. Not necessarily with our soldiers on the ground, but push back hard in every other way possible. And not just with tactical air strikes.
President Obama should listen to Prime Minister David Cameron and together announce a united focus including tactical, strategic, and long term military action and planning, along with ramping up economic sanctions and covert interdictions.
For example, if President Obama announced that he is moving forward with the Missile Defense System in Poland and the Czech Republic that he set aside in 2009, it would with one step send several important signals:
- It is completely defensive; it cannot attack anyone.
- It is focused on a threat from the Middle East, but could presumably be used against missiles launched from Russia.
- The system shows that we are committed long term to the defense of the U.S. and our allies, and we will do whatever is necessary.
- Psychologically, Obama would be saying that he may still be very different from previous Presidents in a lot of areas, but that he has “seen the light” on national defense. Like President Clinton changing on welfare reform in a different context, the message would go beyond the specific project to signal a willingness to try other initiatives.
If those immediately under the rule of the world’s current thugs cannot push back, then we must. There is no alternative. Only our combined, unyielding strength will defeat them, or deter them until better leaders emerge.
And I am reminded again how tragic it is that we must use the West’s resources to contain Putin when, as I wrote in my last post, we should instead be working closely with the people of his nation to defeat the Islamists.