Putin Seeks Lebensraum - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Putin Seeks Lebensraum
by

Tuesday

History is a great help in understanding today and tomorrow. Specifically, what we are seeing right now shows how thoughtfully Mr. Putin has read and understood his progenitor in statecraft, Adolf Hitler.

As everyone once knew, World War I ended with severe penalties on Germany. These included taking territory away from Germany in Europe, Africa, and in Asia. As some used to know, the First World War also ended with a pledge by Woodrow Wilson that national racial groups should be able to determine their own destinies.

This meant that when the Führer took over in Germany, he used Wilson’s own words and principles to get back areas in Europe that had been German and then were given to France, to Poland, and to a new state, Czechoslovakia, that had been part German and part Austro-Hungarian.

In the 1930s, he took back the Rhineland from France, northern and western Czech areas (the so-called “Sudetenland”) from Czechoslovakia, and then all of western Poland from Poland. Thus began World War II, the most destructive event in political/military history.

Vladimir Putin is now heading down the same road. Sensing the same weakness in the West that Hitler did (“Our enemies are little worms,” said the Führer after the Munich Pact in September 1938, and one year later, the world was at war), he is demanding that Ukraine be turned over to Russia without a fight. He is demanding control over areas with large numbers of Russian-speaking persons.

He is also demanding that he must approve the placement of NATO troops in Europe and the stationing of NATO’s ballistic missiles in Europe. He is in essence demanding that the West acknowledge that Russia and China rule the world.

This is serious. Russia is a poverty-stricken nation of far less than half the U.S. population. It has excellent weapons, but it is by no means a world-dominating military power. Not even close. But Russia is ruled by a tough guy. America has a pitifully weak president and a cabinet of nonentities. Our military is preoccupied by nutty sexual by-play. The Russians are there to fight.

Now, let’s be clear: Ukraine is far away from Beverly Hills. I don’t want to fight there. If the Ukrainians want to fight the Russians, they have a superb role model in Finland, which beat Stalin’s Russia to a pulp in 1940 until Russia threw literally millions of men into the fight. (Finland is still extremely well-armed. They are smart people.) If Ukraine wants to surrender to Putin and become a Russian slave state, there is precedent for that, too.

The Czechs greatly suffered under Hitler, but maybe they were right to surrender. In fact, Neville Chamberlain made it necessary for them to surrender by simply reneging on his promises to defend them.

We have no promises to Ukraine. They are not members of NATO.

But we are now warned: Putin wants to fight. We must rearm very thoroughly and fast. There basically is no other meaningful Western power. If Red China invades Taiwan now or soon, we will have our hands full.

Putin has given us a heads-up. Let’s get our heads up — not hands up — and be ready. There is no such thing as an America that is too well armed.

Ben Stein
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Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes “Ben Stein’s Diary” for every issue of The American Spectator.
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