The Policy of Pussilanimity: Beckoning A Disaster in Ukraine and Elsewhere

(2) nuclear weapon

I was reading an article the other day. Here’s what it stated: “During those months, Putin engaged in a kind of gangster diplomacy in which he bluffed, bullied, threatened, and lied to various European leaders in order to expand the borders of his country.”  

The article later said: “all of the heads of state and various diplomats arriving there would be at a terrible disadvantage. They were dealing with a man always willing to go the limit, willing to send in the troops and shed blood in order to get what he wanted. Putin  knew that civilized men such as Poroshenko and those who followed, would readily compromise to prevent the loss of life. They would all learn too late that Putin did not value life and that war was his ultimate goal” 

As you know Putin again sat down with the leaders of Germany, France and Ukraine and played his game by engaging in a cease-fire talk. It was reported in one paper: “in many European capitals there is little remaining trust in President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader has convinced them that he is a man of action – and an unpredictable one at that – and not one of his word.” 

If you are paying attention you know that after 14 hours of negotiations with Putin the leaders of Germany and France came away with, as French President Francois Hollande said was “a glimmer of hope, no more and no less.” The leader of the Russian sponsored rebels who have invaded Ukraine with Russia’s help came away saying: “This is a great victory.”

I want to correct something.  The first two paragraphs above I changed the names that were used in the original article. I put Putin’s name in for Hitler’s and substituted Poroshenko for Schuschnigg (the chancellor of Austria). Did you notice? What is happening now is so eerily similar to the late 1930s I could not resist making the substitutions.

We know about Hitler. Like Putin demands Ukraine come into its fold, he demanded Austria join in union with Germany. When it balked he invaded it. “When news of the invasion reached Britain and France, they reacted just as they had when Hitler occupied the Rhineland a few years earlier. They did nothing. In France, internal political problems once again prevented any military response. Britain, now led by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, had already indicated it would pursue a policy of appeasement to preserve the peace.

Doesn’t that sound very much like today’s Germany, France and Britain?. They are following Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement. The leader of the United States uses their weakness to avoid action saying he wants a united front. When troops flee in panic from an invading force they are united; it is only when one whose wound is covered with the red badge of courage picks the fallen standard and stops to confront them that there is any chance of stopping the forward thrust of the enemy force.

After Hitler invaded Austria on 13 March 1938 he then eyed Czechoslovakia. He had the Germans n that country demand  “full equality of Germans with Czechs and autonomy for Germans living in Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovakian government responded by saying that it was willing to provide more minority rights to the German minority but it refused to grant them autonomy.” 

On September 12, 1938, Hitler accused Czechoslovakia’s President Edvard Beneš of using belligerent and threatening behavior towards Germany along with other acts against the German citizens living in Czechoslovakia. Britain’s Neville Chamberlain flew to Germany on 15 September. Hitler insisted that the Sudeten Germans be allowed to unite Sudetenland with Germany. He accused the British of issuing “threats.” After Britain and France considered his proposal they “demanded that Czechoslovakia cede to Germany all those territories where the German population represented over fifty percent of the Sudetenland’s total population. 

On 21 September, Czechoslovakia capitulated. With no outside assistance it had to accept the demands that were agreed upon by Britain, France, and Germany. The next day, however, Hitler added new demands, Chamberlain, puzzled, had calculated that fully accepting German annexation of all of the Sudetenland with no reductions would please Hitler.

He flew back to Germany to clarify this. Hitler asked him “Does this mean that the Allies have agreed with Prague’s approval to the transfer of the Sudetenland to Germany?”Chamberlain responded “Precisely”, to which Hitler responded by shaking his head, saying that the Allied offer was insignificant. He told Chamberlain that he wanted Czechoslovakia to be completely dissolved and its territories redistributed to Germany, Poland, and Hungary, and told Chamberlain to take it or leave it.” After scaring the beegeejus out of Chamberlain and the French, Hitler then backed off and said he would be happy with Sudetenland.

On 30 September, upon his return to Britain, Chamberlain delivered his infamous “peace for our time” speech to crowds in London. In the end, Hitler went back on all his agreements and eventually invaded all of Czechoslovakia. You know what happened after that.

In Ukraine today we are witnessing the same thing. The European leaders did nothing when Russia took Crimea. They now pretend it is not gobbling up parts of Ukraine piece by piece. Their latest proposal is very similar to the Sudetenland matter where they are urging Ukraine to give up more and more of its territory. Ukraine President Poroshenko has no one at his back helping him; he’s in the same positions as the leaders of Czechoslovakia prior to WWII. He can’t even get arms to defend his nation against the Russian tanks, missiles and soldiers pouring over the border into his country in what more and more resembles a naked invasion which Europe wants to put clothes on and pretend is not happening.

How strange that history is repeating itself in such a short time. The failure by American and European leaders to step up to the plate and demand Putin cease and desist by imposing crippling economic sanctions on him will end up causing a greater war than perhaps we saw when they feared standing up to Hitler. The Russians have already reminded us they are a nuclear nation which carried the implied threat of their use.  According to Russia’s chief propagandist, Dmitry Kiselev, even a decision about the use of nuclear arms “will be taken personally by Mr Putin, who has the undoubted support of the Russian people”. Will we forever cringe before the onrush of Russia fearing the worst?

It’s time the leaders brush up on their history. Dictators with big armies only respect strength. If you easily surrender to their demands they will only make more demands. Putin’s Russia wants back what the Soviet Union lost and more. You’d think we’d have learned that by now. Too bad the Western leaders forgot the lessons Hitler taught. Too bad they forgot the words of President Reagan who stood at the Berlin Wall and told the Soviets “to tear down the wall” which led to the freedom of the captured nations. Is it all to be undone by weakness and indecision?




1 thought on “The Policy of Pussilanimity: Beckoning A Disaster in Ukraine and Elsewhere

  1. Delaying the unpleasant inevitable is a common human behavior. However, some argue that delaying the onset of war was a rational policy on the part of the Allies while they prepared for a war that the knew was inevitable. Hitler’s Germany halted the delay by initiating war, and may have had a different outcome if they had continued their armaments buildup for another two years. I recommend a study of the war machine buildup in the decade before 1939 by the various states and how that affected the eventual outcome. Keep in mind that states invaded by Japan and Italy in Asia and Africa before 1939 (the year that Germany invaded Poland) have a different view of the WWII timeline. Also keep in mind that the Soviet Union used the same time period to expand into the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), and Finland, as well as splitting Poland with Germany once Germany invaded Poland.

    The following is from the online catalog of my local library:
    Author: Maiolo, Joseph A.
    Title: Cry havoc : how the arms race drove the world to war, 1931-1941 / Joseph Maiolo.
    Publisher, Date: New York : Basic Books, c2010.
    Description: xiv, 473 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 25 cm.
    ISBN: 9780465011148
    Deep war and red militarism — Colonel Ishiwara goes to Manchuria — “Rearm and get ready” — “We are moving among giants” — “Should we accept the rearmament of Germany?” — The military-industrial complex — The naval arms races begin — “We have reached a plateau” — Guns and butter — “Next time we’ll urge on the other side” — “They are serious, the Englishmen” — “–A different kind of nation”? — The great acceleration, 1938-39 — “The acid test– is whether anyone is ready to disarm” — “Miracles cannot happen” — Wars of rapid decision? — “Is total war, then, the path to freedom?” —

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