The tanks swarmed across the border in the morning. Within hours they had taken control of much of the small country’s territory and begun an occupation.
The invaders’ massive show of force included psychological warfare, propaganda justifying the invasion as a response to attacks on a persecuted minority.
“Not as tyrants have we come,” proclaimed the invasion’s hypnotic leader, “but as liberators.”
Does this describe Russia’s invasion and occupation of Georgia, a tiny American ally on the Black Sea?
No, this was the Anschluss, a German term meaning “link-up,” Adolph Hitler’s Nazi takeover of Austria. On March 12, 1938, the 8th Army of the German Wehrmacht rolled into this neighboring country, Hitler’s birthplace, and kept control of it until the demise of the Third Reich.
Seven months later, Hitler staged the same kind of military invasion and occupation of Czechoslovakia, justifying his takeover of its Sudetenland on the pretext of freeing more than 3 million ethnic Germans who lived under Czech rule because of Versailles Treaty partitioning following World War I.
The Czech army had prepared to fight. But on Sept. 15, 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain met with Hitler and agreed to give the Sudetenland to the Nazi dictator and then flew home to wave his notorious agreement.
French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier agreed to this sellout of Czechoslovakia three days later. The Czechs were never invited to these meetings at which their fate was sealed.
By this weakness and appeasement, the most civilized countries of Europe unleashed a megalomaniac socialist whose lust for power would soon murder more than 20 million people.
Hitler soon would attack and partition Poland and precipitate World War II, which the British and French were desperately eager to avoid out of fear that a new war would feature the poison trench gases of World War I, only dropped on civilian populations from airplanes. As it turned out, Hitler had been gassed on the battlefield as a corporal during World War I and was reluctant to introduce such weapons.
Nazi scientists developed the first nerve gases, insecticides for humans, but Hitler held these weapons back because Britain and the U.S. had threatened to retaliate in kind if poison gases were used. Hitler reserved his Zyklon B for prisoners of his concentration camps.
Knowing that it today is again a target on Czar Vladimir Putin’s enemies list for re-assimilation into the Russian empire, a free Poland responded to Putin’s invasion of Georgia by agreeing to U.S. anti-missile missiles on its territory.
Response to Russia’s aggression has in several Eastern European former Soviet colonies been both fear and defiance. But in what former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pointedly called “Old Europe,” Eurosocialist welfare states Germany and France have been reluctant to offend the bullying Russia that now supplies 40 percent of their natural gas.
Russia was quick a few months ago to cut off the flow of its fuel to former Russian colony Ukraine, the traditional “breadbasket of Europe” that is Putin’s likely next re-annexation target.
Germany not long ago blocked U.S. efforts to extend North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership to Ukraine and Georgia. Such membership would more or less obligate other members to respond to a Russian attack on Ukraine or Georgia as if all NATO members had suffered Russian attack.
The former leftist German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder took a job on the payroll of Gazprom, the Russian government energy company comprised largely of Putin-expropriated private oil and gas companies. Schroeder thus personally profits from the Russian pipeline he authorized when in office, a Russian link on which his country now depends for survival.
And why did Putin target tiny Georgia? Because across it flows the BTC (Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan) Pipeline, the only path for oil from the huge Caspian oilfields not yet under Russian control.
Few are surprised that Russia, a country shaped by Mongols and Cossacks that has never experienced the Enlightenment, remains savage, uncivilized, and lusting to re-conquer its neighbors.
Less expected from oil-rich Russia’s invasion of Georgia has been the quickness of those on the anti-American left and on the government-hating black helicopter right to blame Georgia and almost applaud Russia in a bizarre manifestation of Orwellian doublethink.
“Georgia is swarming with Israeli agents disguised as Georgians,” one zealot (who believes 9/11 was faked by a U.S. conspiracy) told me breathlessly. “And the pipeline in Georgia is used mostly to supply oil to Israel so Jews can sell it.”
On the loony left, The Nation magazine’s editor Katrina vanden Heuvel heaped all blame for the Russian invasion on Georgia’s democratically elected President Mikheil Saakashvili.
How dare this American-educated, pro-Western capitalist be allied with the United States and send 2,000 Georgian troops to aid America in Iraq, fumes her magazine. How dare Saakashvili fire back when terrorists protected by Russian “peacekeepers” in the breakaway Georgian province South Ossetia launch shells and rockets deeper into his country!
“Russia,” vanden Heuvel writes, “has legitimate security interests along its borders and in areas that have been its traditional zones of security.”
"If Georgia had been a member of NATO . . . ,” she asserts, “the United States would now be at war with Russia . . ."
Or perhaps Russia would never have dared invade a NATO nation.
The Nation’s Mark Ames writes that Russia is merely following the precedent President Bill Clinton set by invading Christian Serbia to win self-determination for Muslim Kosovo.
But Ames never mentions that Moscow denies self-determination to its ethnic regions such as Chechnya that would vote to secede from Russia.
The United States, writes Ames, has taught the world “brutal lessons about geopolitical power and how to use it, and the Russians are showing they’ve learned from us well.”
Ames conveniently never mentions that Russian tanks crushed freedom in 1956 Hungary, in 1968 Czechoslovakia, and in 1939 Poland — which Georgia-born Josef Stalin and his fellow socialist ally Adolph Hitler agreed to divide between them. What we have learned in the past week is that Russia has never really changed . . . and neither have its socialist allies in the West.
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