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Monday, November 17, 2008

Is Vladimir Putin the Second Coming of Adolph Hitler

Historical comparisons are rather dicey however the more I think about the more I am afraid that in Vladimir Putin we may in fact have the second coming of Adolph Hitler. Hitler's rise to power mirrors that of Vladimir Putin's in many disturbing ways. First, Hitler rose to power by exploiting a sense of shame in his country following their defeat in WWI. Hitler made a part of his campaign and platform the resurgence of German nationalism. Putin has done much the same thing in exploiting the fall of the Soviet Union and he also had made the return of Russian nationalism.

Hitler rose to power through mostly Democratic means. Then as soon as he gained power he immediately moved to consolidate that power into an authoritative rule. Hitler moved from a Democratic elected leader to a tyrant in a methodical and systematic manner. He banned unions. He outlawed competing political parties. He took control of the media. He took control of the judiciary. Finally, he eliminated, usually be death, anyone that he saw as a threat to him.

Vladimir Putin moved into power in much the same Democratic means. In fact, he was the hand picked successor of Russia's first elected leader, Boris Yeltsin. Putin didn't move quite as quickly to consolidate his power. That said, once Putin moved to consolidate his power he did it in much the same way as Hitler. Putin's rise to power happened in much the same way. Three plus years ago, with little fanfare, Vladimir Putin orchestrated the conviction and jailing of one of the wealthiest people in Russia.

A Russian court convicted Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, the embattled tycoon and founder of the Yukos oil company, of criminal charges today and sentenced him to nine years in a prison camp, bringing to an end the most closely watched trial in Russia since the Soviet Union collapsed.

The verdict and the sentence concluded a lengthy legal exercise whose ending long ago felt foregone.

Mr. Khodorkovsky, 41, who had been the wealthiest man in Russia until he publicly challenged President Vladimir V. Putin, was found guilty of six charges, including fraud and tax evasion. Under the terms of his sentence, his remaining prison term will be reduced by the 19 months of pretrial confinement he has already served, and it will end in 2012. Platon Lebedev, a Yukos colleague and fellow defendant, was given the same sentence. Prosecutors had asked for maximum sentences of 10 years.

Since then, much like Hitler himself, Putin has moved to outlaw all competing political parties, all non nationalized media, and then he moved to put the judiciary under his control.

What is most startling in terms of similarities is the manner in which they have expanded in their sphere of influence in their geographical neighborhood. Here is how Adolph Hitler justified his invasions of both Czechoslovakia and Poland.

"By the most brutal methods of terrorism, a regime sought to maintain an existence that was condemned by the overwhelming majority of its people...I have tried to persuade the responsible authorities that it is impossible for a great nation, because it is unworthy of it, to stand by and watch millions belonging to a great, an ancient civilized people be denied rights by their government...

I have endeavoured to find some way to alleviate a tragic fate. One agreement was signed only to be broken. I then tried a second time to bring about an understanding. A few weeks later, we were forced to the conclusion that the government [of Austria] had no intention of carrying outthis agreement in the spirit that had inspired it, but in order to create an excuse. I have determined, therefore, to place the help of our country at the service of these millions. Since this morning, our soldiers are on the march across all of Austria's frontiers." - Adolf Hitler, proclamation to the German people, 12 March 1938, justifying the German invasion of Austria (originally printed in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Monitor, April 2003

"We have no interest in oppressing other people. We are not moved by hatred against any other nation. We bear no grudge. I know how grave a thing war is. I wanted to spare our people such an evil. It is not so much the country [of Czechoslovakia]; it is rather its leader [Dr. Edward Benes]. He has led a reign of terror. He has hurled countless people into the profoundest misery. Through his continuous terrorism, he has succeeded in reducing millions of his people to silence. The Czech maintenance of a tremendous military arsenal can only be regarded as a focus of danger. We have displayed a truly unexampled patience, but I am no longer willing to remain inactive while this madman ill-treats millions of human beings." - Adolf Hitler, 14 April 1939, justifying the German invasion of Czechoslovakia, at the Sportpalast in Berlin (originally printed in the Canadian Centre forPolicy Alternatives Monitor, April 2003

"The wave of appalling terrorism against the [minority] inhabitants of Poland, and the atrocities that have been taking place in that country are terrible for the victims, but intolerable for a Great Power which has been expected to remain a passive onlooker. We will not continue to tolerate the persecution of the minority, the killing of many, and their forcible removal under the most cruel conditions. I see no way by which I can induce the government of Poland to adopt a peaceful solution. But I should despair of any honourable future for my own people if we were not, in one way or another, to solve this question." - Adolf Hitler, August 23, 1939, justifying the German invasion of Poland, from letters sent to the UK and French governments in
response to their communications condemning the invasion of Poland (originally printed in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Monitor, April 2003

In much the same way, Putin claimed his own actions were not actions of aggression. He immediately blamed his invasion of Georgia on its President Mikkhail Saakashvilli. Furthermore, he justified his presence in Georgia as being nothing more than a protective force of the minority which he saw as the one being terrorized by the Georgian forces.

Much like Hitler himself, Vladimir Putin is a tyrant obsessed with power, obsessed with restoring his country's nationalistic place in the world, and his M.O. in getting there is remarkably similar to that employed by that evil tyrant years ago. Those that ignore history are destined to repeat it. Vladimir Putin is, in my opinion, the second coming of Adolph Hitler and unless he is confronted now he will likely attempt to usurp the exact sort of power that Hitler attempted all those years ago.

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