Thursday, December 15, 2016

Debates in the West about Putin Now Recall Those in Europe about Hitler in Mid-1930s, Ikhlov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 15 – There has been a dramatic increase in the influence of pro-Putin forces in the West in recent months, Yevgeny Ikhlov says; but at the same time, there has also emerged in Western societies a real horror about what the Kremlin leader is doing in Syria in general and in the abattoir of Aleppo in particular.

            Today, these two developments in Western opinion are not only in open competition with one another but also recall the reaction in many European countries to Adolph Hitler between 1933 when he became chancellor and 1936 when some of his more horrific goals no longer could be denied, the Moscow analyst argues (

            During that three year period, sympathy for the German fuehrer grew and “fascist-like pro-German movements appeared in almost all countries” of the continent,” he points out. “But then reports about ever more repressions and … and new waves of anti-Semitism blocked this ‘Hiterlizing pattern.’” 

            The question now is which of these two trends will win out and whether the recognition of what Putin intends will spread in the West before pro-Putin consensus emerges and a sufficient number of “Putinophiles” achieve high offices to “form the critical mass needed for a tectonic shift of Western policy” or whether an anti-Putin consensus does and blocks its rise.

            The course of events in the 1930s suggests that this is a more open question than many of his backers, who ignore the impact that Aleppo on Western public opinion, recognize. And it is also a more open one than many of his opponents, who ignore the inevitable attractiveness of a strong man who can get his way by force is affecting it as well, now admit.

            But it is the key question before all members of the international community because blocking Putin is likely to become ever more difficult and costly just as blocking Hitler was after the great powers failed to take action against that earlier dictator at the beginning of his rise.  And that reflection should tilt the balance away from Putin and Putinism and toward sanity.

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