Saturday, March 08, 2014

78 Years Ago This Week History Taught Us a Lesson. But Does Anyone Care?

The West is shrugging off the seizure of Crimea in Ukraine the same way we ignored the Rhineland invasion!

Is it just me or is anyone else bothered by the seeming lack of focus on Russia's seizure of Crimea? I know public schools today teach only touchy-feely tree hugging and the only history taught is how bad the White Man was, but surely there must be more than a relative handful of us who remember the important lessons history taught us?

One such important lesson, and it's a BIG ONE, was taught on March 7, 1936. On that day the German Army, directed by Aldolf Hitler, invaded the Rhineland and violated the Treaty of Versailles, the peace treaty that ultimately sealed the end of World War One. The Rhineland, which was part of Germany, was declared by Versailles and later the Locarno Treaty to be demilitarized. Hitler's violation of those treaties and military occupation of the Rhineland was the first of Hitler's many armed territorial conquests.

Had France, backed by Great Britain, stood up to Hitler they could have expelled Germany from the Rhineland, perhaps without firing a shot. Such a humiliation might very well have caused German generals to remove Hitler from power  (1,2) and spare the world the horror that would follow in the years to come.

No one seems to care that Putin has seized Crimea. It was after all, a former Russian province. But so was Alaska. Also, would we stand by while Mexico reclaims the southwestern United States? If Putin gets away with this first bite of the apple he'll be back for more. That's the lesson from history. Unless he is opposed and the cost is more than Obama wagging a finger and making symbolic moves Putin will conclude the prizes to be had are worth the negligible risk.

In a previous post, I observed the 68th anniversary of Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech in Fulton Missiouri. In the 1930's Churchill warned about the dangers of neglecting Hitler's ambitions and later he warned about the dangers of neglecting Russia's. History has proven Churchill to be right. So why aren't we listening when the cost of avoiding war is low and the rewards great?

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