Bill Whittle: What Do Putin and Hitler Have in Common?

In the latest FIREWALL, Bill shows why you don't have to look very far very back at all to see ugly echoes of an ugly time.



Hi everybody – I’m Bill Whittle and this is the Firewall!

One of the complaints leveled against Conservatives by Progressives is that we’re always looking backwards. Why always so locked in the past? Why so obsessed with history? Why always looking behind us? Why not look forward?

There’s actually a very simple explanation for that. You see, the past exists. And the future doesn’t. Not yet, anyway. That’s why progress isn’t always good. We could be progressing forward off a cliff. Or into the room where the murderer is hiding. Or out into the water where the shark is. And since we can’t know where we are going, the best we can do is to see if we can learn anything from where we have been. 

And you don’t have to look far – not these days. No sir. 

Vladimir Putin recently announced that Russia would seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Crimea. And the Western intellectuals – “intellectuals” is Latin for “cowards” --  just swooned. A diplomatic solution! 

All throughout the mid to late thirties, the Wolf – Adolph Hitler, it was a codename that he kept for his entire career as Fuehrer / Dictator – bullied people and broke things. And the decent, civilized leader of England and France and simply wrung their hands, and wrote harshly worded diplomatic cables, and made vague threats of sanctions, and all the rest. 

Hitler didn’t play the West like a violin: he played them like a light switch. Threaten violence, offer peace. Threaten violence, offer peace. Make outrageous demands; invade other countries; backdate the moral argument by claiming your are simply protecting your own ethnic populations against imagined and then invented foreign oppression, et cetera and so on and you know the drill. Well, some of us do, anyway.

Two days ago, skipping through my satellite comedy channels – where I keep the BBC – I came in on the end of an interview with an Estonian defense minister, who proceeded to remind Vladimir Putin – the Bear -- that Estonia was part of NATO, while the Ukraine is not. And the BBC interviewer leapt in, in tones of contempt and panic, protesting in a panic that that sort of language was counterproductive because it only antagonizes and offends Moscow. You don’t want to make them angry. It’s better to be nice to them before they overrun your country – you get a higher position in the slave government that way, and maybe they will shoot you last. 

Now: both the Wolf and the Bear have a lot in common. Both were from humble beginnings, and both survived and clawed their way to becoming leaders of great nations by cunning and ruthlessness and the predator’s skill at finding weakness in their prey. Both without question have personally ordered the murder of political opponents. Both – and this is important – led nations that were filled with bitterness over lost glory, both fostered intense hatred of outsiders, and both promised to restore their national honor through military conquest. And most importantly, both the Wolf and the Bear represent nations with the exceedingly dangerous combination of resentment, envy, shame and unspoken but pervasive inferiority. That is a dangerous combination.

Opposing the Wolf and the Bear? Two Lambs. 

Facing the Wolf: Neville Chamberlain, a proud, self-centered man, consumed with his own sense of self-importance: not terribly perceptive, or terribly interested in much of anything other than his own place in history as a result of his domestic social reforms. 

Facing the Bear: ditto. 

Hitler saw a vain and timid man who clutched at a piece of paper so that he didn’t have to look at what was behind it.  Putin sees a man-child, who is put in his place by one of the women that have always told him what to do. 

Now, unknown to the cowards of Munich – in fact, not discovered until the flames of civilization had been put out and the wreckage of the world cleared – we have information from our look backwards. Because after the Lion replaced the Lamb and the Wolf was finally beaten, records came to light from OKW -- Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, the German High Command. 

Before Poland, before Czechoslovakia, before the Sudatenland… before the annexation of Austria – before all of the threats of violence followed by offers of peace: Adolf Hitler dipped his toe in the water of western resolve by sending a few lightly armed troops into the demilitarized Rhineland in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. We learned after the war from the records of the mortified, horrified German generals that had the French or the British put so much as a platoon, or a marching band, or perhaps even a single policeman who refused to get out of the way – had there been any resistance at all the Generals would have ordered their troops back to Germany and Hitler would have been overthrown. Could a platoon, or a single policeman have stopped World War II? Yes. Without question. Hitler himself admitted it.

When the Wolf went into the Rhineland, France and Britain were immeasurably superior to Germany, militarily. Even if the Germans had not backed down, the Allies would have brushed them aside in a few days. But in the three years between the Rhineland and the start of World War II in Europe, the Wolf got stronger and stronger, as the Lambs got weaker and weaker. Those of us backward-lookers see the Bear arming daily, as we make drastic cuts in our defense forces, and it looks sickeningly familiar to us as we bleat in impotent protest.

But Wolves – and Bears – know what lambs sound like. And those of us who do, in fact, learn the lessons of history will have to stand by once again and watch as those who don’t are doomed to repeat it.