Is history really repeating itself over Crimea?
March 25th, 2014
03:29 PM ET

Is history really repeating itself over Crimea?

By Frida Ghitis, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Frida Ghitis is a world affairs columnist for The Miami Herald and World Politics Review. A former CNN producer and correspondent, she is the author of "The End of Revolution: A Changing World in the Age of Live Television." Follow her @FridaGhitis. The views expressed are her own.

History, as we know, echoes loudly in the present. Some version of what we see unfolding in Ukraine, and more specifically in the Crimean Peninsula, has occurred before. Indeed, today’s headlines recall countless events and bring to mind long-ago read chapters in history books; brittle, yellowed newspapers carefully preserved in libraries; and old black and white newsreels.

But as world leaders try to chart a response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, hoping to learn from the successes and failures of the past, it isn’t quite clear precisely which chapter – or even which era – the current crisis is replaying. Are we back in the Cold War? Are we about to step into a new Crimean War? Or should we go further back, perhaps to Catherine the Great’s conquests on the shores of the Black Sea?

When the U.N. Security Council met last week to discuss Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the British ambassador pointed to what is arguably the most troubling of all possibilities.

“We are witnessing the illegal behavior of a large country bullying its neighbors, disregarding international law, and unilaterally adjusting international borders to its advantage,” he said. “One only has to think back to the 1930s to recognize the dangers of a complacent international response.”

He was of course alluding to the infamous “appeasement” of those who tried to accommodate Hitler’s ambitions in the hope of preventing a major new conflict when Europe was still exhausted from World War I.

The analogy is an explosive one. When Hillary Clinton suggested Putin’s claim to be protecting ethnic Russians in Ukraine was reminiscent of moves by the Nazis, the comment was dismissed by some who suggested the former secretary of state should know better.

The mere suggestion that we face a similar threat carries the implication that no response is too swift or too muscular. The reality, though, is that while there are clearly some parallels, no one should seriously be arguing that an age marked by the atrocity of the Holocaust is similar enough to events in Crimea to be the best historical guide (even if the Crimean referendum brings to mind the joyful scenes that followed the unification of Austria and Germany in the 1938 Anschluss, itself “democratically” endorsed in a “referendum”).

Another analogy that analysts, including myself, have suggested is that we have returned to the Cold War. The term “Cold War” is neat shorthand, and it certainly captures some elements of what we now face: a Russia under Vladimir Putin that defines itself in opposition to the West generally and to the United States in particular – and an aggressive, militarized foreign policy that largely disregards international opinion and seeks to push back against the West. Indeed, this new conflict has revived the old definitions of “East” and “West.”

But while the push of Russian troops into Crimea recalled Soviet forces rolling into Hungary in 1956, there are vast differences between the Crimea and the central Europe of that period, just as there are enormous differences between the Cold War and whatever new era we have just entered.

Ultimately, the Cold War was both a geopolitical power struggle and a battle between two competing world views – between two economic and political systems, democratic capitalism and authoritarian communism. Fast forward to today, and there is no overarching ideological battle. Even if Putin has eroded democratic norms and has interfered unabashedly with private property rights and the functioning of a free market, Russia is essentially a capitalist country, as is Ukraine. In addition, the Cold War also pitted the world’s two undisputed rival superpowers. Today, the U.S. economy and its military are each several times larger than Russia’s.

Going back further, the annexation of Crimea in a sense harkens back to the time when Russia sought to expand its borders, as Catherine the Great conquered the peninsula in the 18th century, wresting the Muslim Crimean Khanate from the Crimean Tatars.

This assertive approach had some echoes in more recent history, when Russia sided with the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008. Both territories declared themselves independent states, and although they were not formally annexed by Russia, Moscow recognized their independence. The only other countries to do so were Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru and Tuvalu. Unsurprisingly, the new “states” are deeply loyal to Putin’s Russia. Seven years later, there is no sign that Georgia will ever regain its lost territory, or that diplomacy will help resolve the dispute. It’s a bad precedent for a Ukraine hoping to someday regain Crimea.

Yet each analogy has its limits as a template for understanding current events, not least because history, in this case, is still writing itself – the new East-West crisis is still being played out. And it is also being written not just by Russia, but by Western responses to Putin’s actions.

All this means that it is difficult, if not impossible, to know which chapter of history the events of the past few months will ultimately come most to resemble – or whether they are actually creating unique precedents that will themselves draw comparisons from future observers.

 

Post by:
Topics: History • Ukraine

soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. Joseph McCarthy

    Is history repeating itself over Crimea? It appears that way. Back in 1853, Great Britain, France and Sardinia all threw in with Turkey in order to help it keep it's strablehold over that peninsula to keep the Russians from taking it. In 1877, after the unifications of both Italy and Germany, the balance of power in Europe shifted, the Russians again tried to take Crimea and succeeded because Great Britain and France wisely and rightly stayed out of it this time and was settled at the Treaty of Berlin in 1878. Now Obama and his rubber stamp European "allies" are venting out their phony outrage over Crimea and it's plebiscite!

    March 25, 2014 at 4:45 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      Even if Russia has historical interests in Crimea, it has employed illegitimate means to bring Crimea back into its fold.
      Indeed, what is new in this chapter of Crimea's history was Putin tactic. By deploying armed men in unmarked uniforms, it aimed to intimidate opponents in Crimea, while at the same time keeping Ukrainian forces in check. The referendum was organised at fast speed, to legalise the land grab. Now that the annexation was a fait accompli, it sent soldiers formally into Crimea to drive Ukrainian soldiers out.

      March 26, 2014 at 11:54 am | Reply
      • kurt

        Referendums to annex, secede or be annexed or only valid if the ENTIRE nation votes on it... not just the area trying to secede. This is why Canada has a referendum on Quebec seceding every few years (which the rest of Canada outside of Quebec votes down).

        And if you think for a second, you will see why it has to be the entire nation. Because otherwise any land owner can vote to secede (kind of like Peter Griffin seceding from the US.. just his house and yard... in Family Guy).

        It is not reasonable for me to leave the US and have my house become part of Canada. The entire US would have to vote on that and agree to it for it to happen. Similarly, it's not reasonable for a US state to do the same... the entire US would have to vote on that and agree for it to happen. Otherwise, a group with a particular political ideology could move to Montana in great numbers and vote to form their own nation.

        YOu can't have nations work that way.

        April 1, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
      • Andrey

        I do not know where you take you facts about Canada and Quebec Kurt but they are not correct. If all of Canada could vote about Quebec seceding from it, Quebec would be an independent state now: that is a standing joke in Canada!

        April 4, 2014 at 11:30 pm |
  2. Marty

    The U.S. did the same thing in 1903 with Panama. It worked then why won't it work today for Russia?

    March 25, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Reply
    • jwc99

      Because we must hope we have moved on from 1903.

      March 26, 2014 at 1:47 pm | Reply
      • toumanbeg

        Some of us have, which is the problem. Who is going to bell the cat?
        The Mellinnials are not going too play world cop anymore. As Blackwell said "Law does not go where enforcement cannot reach."
        Without a cop, criminals run amoke.
        Pootie has made a serious logic error. He used the revolution that removed President Victor Yanukovich to rationalize invading Crimea. His logic was that the treaty of 1994 was abrogated by the removal of the Yanukovich government. That Russia had no onligations under that now void treaty.
        IF so, then the revolution in 1991 that ended the Soviet Union also ended the Russian seat on the UN Security Counsel. So call a meeting of the UNSC and give Russia 48 hours to remove ALL Russian citizens from the Ukraine. All the Ukraine, especially the Crimea or the former Russian UNSC seat will be re-assigned. Brizil, or India come to mind. Let the General Assembly vote on it. Let Russia understand that if you behave like a 3rd world nation, you will be treated like a 3rd world nation. Without that UNSC permanent seat, Russia is just anotrher 3rd world mudhole.
        China won't say anything because they are in the same position. Remember, the seat China has originally belonged to the other (real) China. The argument that Russia has no obligations under the 1994 trearty puts the entire concept of treaties and International law at risk.
        The 1994 treaty (Budapest Memorandum). Eliminated nuclear weapons in the Ukraine. If the Ukraine still had nukes, Russia would not have invaded.
        So any of the countries nearby will want nuclear weapons. Why not? There is no cop walking the beat to protect them.
        So the alternative to kicking Russia off the Security Council is 30 or 40 more nuclear armed states. Am I the only one that thinks that is a bad idea?

        March 26, 2014 at 4:28 pm |
      • Truth

        @toum.

        So you are trying to tell me that the USA did not act like a dictatorship to other countries for the past two decades? GO on, try to scare us. We will end you like the worthless worms you people are. Half of your nation does not support you, nor do the Europeans support you in actuality at all.

        America is the source of all the problems, the sooner this country dies the better.

        March 26, 2014 at 6:06 pm |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Thank you, Truth. That was well said. It shows that you chose the right screen name.

        March 27, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
      • mystixa

        In answer to the user that ironically names himself 'truth'. So even taking your assertion as the truth, that the u.s. has been acting empirically over the past decades, your hatred is then misplaced. Since you liken the USSR.. I mean Russian defacto invasion of Crimea to U.S. aggressions which they themselves opposed, how is that any better then the u.s.?

        We have acted aggressively in the past as has Russia. We have also not been afraid to admit that it was even us doing it, and had large international backing to do it. We didn't sneak in, pretending our forces were local militia's and that our acts were anything else other then a war.

        Were we correct in those wars? I think we were 1 and 1 on the most recent 2. Afhganistan was legitamate as they were harboring an admitted enemy to the u.s. They were warned to give up an enemy that had attacked our country. They chose instead to fight our forces, and lost because of it. Iraq, was a flawed plan from a stupid president that was too ignorant to control his own administration.

        Neither of those examples.. or any other from the u.s. side justifies a further invasion by any country including oureslves.

        March 27, 2014 at 10:12 pm |
      • kurt

        "So you are trying to tell me that the USA did not act like a dictatorship to other countries for the past two decades?"

        No, the US did not.

        The US has done plenty of bad things. But while we have effectively gone to war several time for bad reasons, we have not been a conqueror in over 100 years. Not even by "diplomatic" means (convincing a country to vote to join us). We have not taken the land of other nations by force or coersion.

        Russia did with Crimea.

        This century we've gone to war to protect another country (Kuwait, WW1, WW2). We've gone to war to get revenge (Afghanistan, 2nd Iraq war). We've gone to war to stop the spread of a cultural idea we don't approve of (Vietnam, Korea, "cold war"). But no conquests. We haven't acted like a dictator toward other countries. We've acted like a spoiled child at times, like a protector at times and like a culture-warrior at times. We've even acted like a big corporation pushing smaller businesses around.

        But not a dictator. That's what Saddam Hussein did when he invaded Iraq. That's what Hitler did when he invaded various nations. And that's what Putin did with Crimea.

        April 1, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
      • Jorge Cano Capri

        The fact remains. The U.S. did it.

        April 4, 2014 at 9:34 pm |
    • captbilly

      Actually, Panama isn't part of the USA and never was. It may well be true that the US has used economic, political and even military force to influence world events (including the Panama) but the US hasn't taken any land in a century or more (unless I am missing something). The US did have some areas that it ended up administrating after WW2 but all of those areas have reverted back to their own governments. And even in the case of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, neither have been claimed as part of the US, and there was never any talk of either ever becoming a part of the US.

      March 26, 2014 at 7:17 pm | Reply
    • Dennis

      And Panama is now what, our 51st State? 52nd?

      March 28, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Reply
    • kurt

      Panama was never part of the US.

      The US encouraged a seperatist movement (that was already in place). Once Panama did become independent of Columbia, we signed a 100 year lease for the Canal. It certainly wasn't an above the board maneuver. But we didn't invade or conquer it for our own.

      That would be more comparable to Russia using their military to create puppet states in Georgia... something the rest of the world let them get away with if you don't remember. Frankly, they probably could have gotten away with that again had they done that in Crimea.

      The thing is... Crimeans weren't upset enough with Ukranian rule to form an armed rebellion. Russia couldn't put one together fast enough... so they went the route of the conqueror. And that's why the world is upset with them.

      April 1, 2014 at 2:11 pm | Reply
  3. The GOP Solution

    The GOP Solution: Turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. Then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. And don't forget the GOP all time favorites............TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!........and.........GET RID OF SS AND MEDICARE!!

    March 25, 2014 at 5:23 pm | Reply
    • Lyndsie Graham

      Well said.

      March 25, 2014 at 5:36 pm | Reply
      • 5KWISH

        The armed troops never should have been allowed to just cross over the border
        and take positions in Crimea without ant type of resistance. To many in the world
        this inaction was an informal way of accepting the inevitable and turning the
        area over to Russia.

        March 25, 2014 at 9:15 pm |
    • idiotusmaximus

      Lololololol....that sounds fair...if you're backwards and insane.

      March 25, 2014 at 6:35 pm | Reply
    • mango man

      the democrate solution.
      deny minority students right to study in charter schoo. just keep them in failing schools.

      March 26, 2014 at 7:55 am | Reply
      • Um....What?

        Seriously dude?

        March 26, 2014 at 10:54 am |
      • Profile Of The Typical Republican Voter

        1. Thinks they themselves are rich.
        2. Makes less than $100,000/yr.
        3. Has a net worth less than $200,000.
        4. Primary residence is on wheels or blocks.
        5. Benefits directly from the ACA but really, really hates Obamacare.
        6. Probably retired and depending on SS and Medicare or will be the person most likely to need SS and Medicare.
        7. Thinks they are religious but they should read the book, "How NOT To Be A Republican" (a.k.a. The Bible).
        8. Thinks republicans are conservatives.
        9. Racist.
        10. Actually thinks republicans represent THEM!!

        March 26, 2014 at 11:07 am |
      • SoxRsxy

        No such thing as a failing school. There are only failing individuals and they fail because in today's schools we tell them all they are winners. The parents blame the teachers cause the child is failing. There is no self accountability.

        March 26, 2014 at 8:02 pm |
      • Careful

        Be careful about stereotyping a voter phenotype. The "facts" you laid out in your 10 points are pretty ridiculous as well as nonfactual and biased to your own agenda. People throwing around blame could do more productive things with their time whether they're blue or red.

        March 26, 2014 at 8:25 pm |
      • If we could poll GOP voters

        You would realize that the vast majority of them actually DO fit the profile. And thus, they are voting against their own interests. You KNOW it's all true.

        March 28, 2014 at 9:40 am |
  4. idiotusmaximus

    Is history really repeating itself over Crimea?

    History is NOTHING but repeats.....so what's new?

    March 25, 2014 at 6:34 pm | Reply
  5. bobcat2u

    If history is indeed repeating itself, it's due to the old saying that man has not learned from it. As long as there is man on earth, there will always exist the need for the conquest of one man over another. Kind of sucks, doesn't it ?!

    March 25, 2014 at 7:11 pm | Reply
  6. Onipaa

    USA has occupied the internationally recognized Kingdom of Hawaii since 1898.

    March 25, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Reply
  7. railtoad2

    Many people would love to claim a Crimea repeat, the same type that would say hockey repeats itself. The first Summit Series was in Russia in 1972 and the second in 2014. Canada won both series and some say that Crimea leaving in the cold war years of 1972 is now going back after this series. Russia was a poor loser then and today carries the same badge of honour. Russia loses in different games with different names. In 1972 every hotel and arena seat was booked. In 2014 the Russian people were to scared to show up because of Chena bombs going through the huge security screen. This time it was an economic failure and Putin was running scared with huge underworld bills that had collectors trying to put a seizure or lien on Crimea and threaten the Russian fleet. Putin used the army of unmarked army and plain clothes criminals to take the Crimea and prevent repossession of the Black Sea fleet to hold the debt. Putin has Crimea through a Kremlin crime to protect Russia from a rejected ruble by the G8. Putin may need more to protect the Sochi hockey now in hock. It is no wonder the G8 scratched Sochi because of the forgone conclusion of Crimea. The build up of U.S. military in the region is to protect the politicians there now. Canada may condemn Putin for his plan, but the lack of action is because hockey is Canada's game and we know the logic of playing between the lines. Huge companies donate to build arenas here to play the game and there is no debt to dispose of. Putin did not have that type of economy. The Crimea would have a bill collector's camp that would have caused Putin to resign. That is why the Ukrainian President ran to Russia for Putin's protection because he could not stop the financial suicide of Sochi and the Olympic hockey hooligans Putin complained about when it was being built. . Indeed they to were unmarked in the Crimea and may still be there in unmarked military uniforms confusing the pro Kremlin Communist forces sent in. So far the unmarked troops collect the booty from bases the Russian forces take without a shot. Don't shoot the messenger is the message. So far the west has not published an account of valuables from the bases that can be sold by the brokers of repossessed arms.by the Russian Army to save their leader Putin.

    March 25, 2014 at 9:38 pm | Reply
  8. ✠RZ✠

    History you say? Lemme tell ya a bit about history. If a revolution was ever hijacked, this one's a doozy! What a scam! What a shame! Half the country taken out physically by Russia, and the other half fiscally by Europe (aka Washington). If anyone ever had a real hope of a "Ukraine for Ukrainians", well, it's gone....erased over night.... history!

    March 26, 2014 at 3:18 am | Reply
  9. sand

    every child in usa britain ireland dublin norway oslo australia israel should be killed they should boil away in nuclear flames its moraly right thats why.

    March 26, 2014 at 7:19 am | Reply
    • Towel Head Detector

      Warning!!!..........Warning!!!...........Warning!!!!!!!!! Towel Head detected!!!!!!

      March 26, 2014 at 10:57 am | Reply
    • SoxRsxy

      Yes lets take the sins of the fathers out on the sons. Tell them brother lalalalalalalalalalalalalalala....boom. Wait my 42 virgins are all MEN!

      March 26, 2014 at 8:08 pm | Reply
  10. Mary Roe

    Could someone please remind our President that "regional power" has the nukes to obliterate Manhattan and the rest of New York

    March 26, 2014 at 9:33 am | Reply
    • What's Your Solution?

      What's your solution? What does the GOP think we should do about Russia? Start another "unfunded/off-the-books" war with them?

      March 26, 2014 at 10:56 am | Reply
    • captbilly

      The fact that a country has nuclear weapons does not mean that it is more than a regional player. If we conclude that anyone with nuclear weapons and a delivery system is a world power then Israel, India, along with perhaps Pakistan and North Korea are all world powers, but we know that isn't true. To be more than a regional player one has to have an economy strong enough to influence the world, and Russia clear does not have such an economy. Only the EU, US and possibly China, are truly able to influence world events without resorting to military force.

      March 26, 2014 at 7:24 pm | Reply
      • kk

        captbilly, Man I enjoy reading your argument and logic. "Regional" is one component "World" is several components.

        March 27, 2014 at 12:27 am |
  11. Kent Crawford

    The 'repeat' of history is not specifically Ukraine or Crimea, but rather the tactics being used by an expansionist state at the expense of smaller and weaker states. The best comparison is Adolph Hitler's expansions in the 1936 – 39 period. One might go so far as to say that Putin is using Hitler's playbook.

    Putin is using the same general theme to justify his actions; the protection of ethnic Russian minorities from fictional discrimination and mistreatment. Thus the occupation of the two small provinces belonging to Georgia in 2008 roughly corresponds to Hitler's re-occupation of the Rhineland. Crimea shares some similarity with the Anschluss in Austria in 1938, including the use of a rigged referendum.

    The next step, which seems to be shaping up, would be a grab of the heavily ethnic Russian Donbass section of eastern Ukraine, roughly from Kharkov through Donetsk and Lugansk, corresponding to the Sudetenland area of 1938 Czechoslovakia. Putin, as Hitler did before, is already using subversion and rabble-rousing to create a 'demand' for a 'return' to mother Russia.

    Hitler gambled on the weakness of the West, and his gamble at Munich was rewarded. Neither the hapless Neville Chamberlain and the equally spineless French President, Deladier, were willing to risk a military confrontation, and signed off on Hitler's land grab. And in the spring of 1939, Hitler just grabbed up the rest of Czechoslovakia by military occupation. In the current situation, Putin is likewise gambling on the weakness of the West, and will no doubt be rewarded by the NATO allies futile exercise of hand-wringing and ineffective economic sanctions.

    While the historical comparison is not quite exact, it is close enough to be strongly indicative. And Putin has demonstrated an ability to improvise as the situation unfolds. For example, if he opts for the military option and seeks to over-run all of Ukraine, than the Transdneister province of Moldavia falls right into his hands and gives him a more defensible border. Then it is on to Latvia and Estonia for repeat performances.

    At this point, we may be looking at a remake of Munich, with the fascist strongman Vladimir Putin playing Adolph Hitler, and the weak-kneed spineless Barry Obama as Neville Chamberlain.

    March 26, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Tell me Kent, did Adolf Hitler ever accord the French back in 1940 on whether they wanted to be German occupied or not? Of course he didn't but Vladimir Putin did for the Crimean people. Since these people spoke, I wish that all you right-wing, Washington parroting idiots would just shut up!

      March 26, 2014 at 2:37 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Sorry Kent, for the misprint above. I meant to say "ask", not "accord".

      March 26, 2014 at 2:42 pm | Reply
  12. tklimchuk

    Rember that meeting Obama had with Putin before his re election Obama said wait till i get re elected and I"ll have a free hand Putin must have mis under stood him and took it to mean he would have a free hand

    March 26, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Reply
  13. Truth

    How beautiful is the sight
    When America falls
    Screaming and kicking
    It's allies meekly supporting it
    But her own people do not support her.
    Fear Us
    Your time has ended
    The Bear is Back.

    March 26, 2014 at 6:11 pm | Reply
    • J. Foster Dulles

      Nicely put, Truth. Now let's all hope you're right!

      March 26, 2014 at 7:27 pm | Reply
    • Dustin

      The Bear is back? Back to what? Russia's military pales in comparison to it's Soviet predecessors and is currently no match against the U.S alone let alone NATO combined. Russia's economy is primarily based on exporting natural resources and produces little else. Allies? What major allies does Russia have? None. Just a few minor nations. This idiotic nationalism will be destructive to Russia and it's people in the end.

      March 27, 2014 at 12:22 am | Reply
  14. Nick

    Very much what our NATO friend Turkey did back in 1974 with Cyprus – went in to help their minority Turkish population and still has 35-40% control of the island. How come we don’t ask them to leave? Well, because they are with us. So stop with this BS about what’s right and wrong.

    March 27, 2014 at 12:51 am | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      You nailed it good, Nick. That alone shows U.S. hypocrisy at it's very worst and what a double standard the right-wing thugs in Washington cling to and just how phony the outrage Obama keeps displaying toward Russia over Crimea. Enough is enough!

      March 27, 2014 at 1:10 am | Reply
  15. Russian

    Kindergarten… Bedtime stories… I can come up with a better story- Emperor Palpatine-Putin and Darth Vader-Shoigu send the Ukrainian Rebels false information that the station's weapons systems are not operational in order to lure them into a trap, and bring Luke-Yatsenyuk on board of the Third Death Star to turn him to the dark side of the Force.

    March 27, 2014 at 6:50 am | Reply
    • ✠ RZ ✠

      Not bad, Russian. Will look forward to episode two, perhaps revenge of the Obama Sith.

      March 27, 2014 at 9:21 am | Reply
  16. Ron

    Comparisons with Hitler in 1939 in one example. Perhaps the better example is the prelude to WW1. In that case the mutual support treaties between Russia, European countries, Austria-Hungary, Serbia, and the Ottoman empire created a tinderbox so fragile that the simple of assignation of one politician triggered a devastating world war. Are mutual support treaties more dangerous than appeasement?

    March 27, 2014 at 11:23 am | Reply
    • TheEnd

      Indeed, the existence of NATO means WW3 should start if Putin were to try to liberate Estonia's repressed Russian minority. If the E.U. doesn't have the will to shut down Russia's economy by severing economic ties and enduring the resulting sharp recession and energy crisis, then why would Putin think they'd have the stomach for war? It might be better to dissolve NATO right now, but I don't see even Italy suggesting that seriously.

      If Putin overruns Ukraine and faces a weak economic response then I think the next world war is likely. Putin will continue his anti-NATO push back and the West will grow a spine at the wrong time. China will make it a real world war by taking the opportunity to enforce its China Sea claims.

      March 27, 2014 at 12:28 pm | Reply
      • Lyndsie Graham

        You seem to forget TheEnd, that when Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974. nobody said anything and there was no phony outrage being spewed out by anyone then and Turkey still occupies the northern third of that island. This smacks directly at a U.S. double standard in it's foreign policy. Now these self serving NATO "partners" seem to be going ballistic over Crimea! This is sickening to say the least!

        March 27, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
  17. Victor

    Yes, history is repeating. in 1995 USA bombed Jugoslavia to separate Croatia and Bosnia. In 1999 USA bombed Serbia to separate Kosovo. Now americans "forgot" these, and became mad when Russia achieved the same goal not by several months of bombing, but by democratic procedure – referendum. And also, Russia did it only after democratically-elected Ukrainian government was ousted by US-backed coup.

    March 27, 2014 at 10:13 pm | Reply
    • Mark Rushing

      Well put, Victor. How true that is!

      March 27, 2014 at 11:49 pm | Reply
  18. Ron

    I agree Victor – the pot calling the kettle black

    March 28, 2014 at 1:41 pm | Reply
  19. Anthony Platt

    There is one blatant irony in all of these comparisons to the Anschluss. And that is simply that there was* widespread support in Austria for unification with greater Germany in the 1930s. Western writers, who love to reflexively vilify Hitler ignore this fact conveniently, indeed criminally. The only tremendously anti-democratic act of tyranny with regard to the Anschluss was by Western powers, which at the end of World War 1, stripped Austria of its own right to self-determination by prohibiting unification with Germany, to serve Western imperial interests, which ran contrary to Austria's interests, and contrary to what was supported by the overwhelming majority of the people. The same case can probably be made for Crimea, albeit to a lesser degree. Either way, Russia has a long, established claim to Crimea, to say the least. Nobody cares to acknowledge these points? All Western writers can talk about is aggression, specifically to Western claims and legal demarcations, standards and rules originating in the West, without at all acknowledging whether opposing claims are legitimate? This is equally as imperialistic as Putin's actions.

    March 29, 2014 at 5:14 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Great posting, Anthony. We need more people like you posting here instead of all these weak minded fools who keep on parroting the right-wing Washington view of things. Yes, the Austrian people did want to join Germany in 1938 but like you said, the right-wing news media doesn't wish to talk about this episode either.

      March 29, 2014 at 7:49 pm | Reply
  20. Chuck

    History is repeating itself, it always does, nobody ever learns from past World Wars
    we just have to have them every so often

    March 30, 2014 at 2:06 am | Reply
  21. Keith B. Rosenberg

    But you can use those previous examples of history as guidance for what to do now. It appears that there is not going to be any appeasement.

    Russia should have offered to BUY the Crimea and, as appears to be next on the agenda, a land corridor to Crimea.

    April 1, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Reply
  22. emil kaiypov

    PAUSE THE WAR!
    My name is Emil Kaiypov. I am a citizen of the Kyrgyz Republic, a lawyer, and a father of two children. The proposal for which I am asking your kind support is the suspension of all currently existing hostilities on Earth.

    The main goal of my entire project is to save and improve the lives of children who are suffering from the present conflicts and violence.

    The challenge is to create a moment of "pause" [a technical term from video language] in hostilities now and in the future, as well as to refusal to restart them at all. I believe that in this context, such "pause" in the war action seems do-able and practical, much more effective than the idealistic and utopian pressing of an imaginary "stop" button. In the future the first action will equate to the second: "pause" will become "stop". In order to alert the international community and potential supporters, I made a demonstration of my own at 18 October 2013 on the territory of Syrian embassy in Beirut, with poster "pause the war".

    The purpose of this demonstration, is to show through an example that:

    1) one person has the power to perform an action directed to the benefit of all mankind.

    2) no one should be indifferent, when war is concerned.

    3) war requires us to drop everything else, in order to stop it. Daily activities, against the background of war, look meaningless and empty.

    I believe, that this idea will resonate and supporters will wish to join it. The age of information technologies, will help to spread it around the globe. Definitely there will be supporters among the world's famous celebrities. In the event that a large number of ordinary people and celebrities join this campaign, the dream to stop all military actions on the planet will be realized. This will serve as an occasion to announce the call for volunteers in the "international army of peace". It will consist of unarmed "soldiers" who are ready at any time, to go to the hot spot to "pause" the hostilities with the fact of their presence and to encourage the warring parties to engage in dialogue. Ideally, this army should consist of a world-famous and beloved celebrities from all spheres of human activities.

    I suggest that countries be ready to support my initiative, in solidarity, by placing on the cloth of their national flags, the well-known pause symbol "II". I believe that in the course of implementation of this anti-war action, the reasons for which the suspended armed conflict began, will be resolved or continued in a civilized manner. This anti-war action will bring about a new peaceful reality, when there will be no state left, which "international army of peace" had not visited.

    The termination of all hostilities, will become the point of departure for further continuous progress in all directions.

    We are able to bring about the time, when the world will be fairly managed by a workable international organization which will be trusted by all citizens of the earth. When this happens, all kinds of weapons will be transferred to international United Nations control, the purpose of which, will be the preservation of peace and sustainable development of mankind.

    We live in a world, when the collective effort makes possible the colonizing of other planets in the foreseeable future. I believe, that we have enough strength and resources for the child born tomorrow to see a world, where uniform international standards of education, labor, pension and medical care, will be established everywhere. A world, where the primary human needs will be satisfied for free.

    A world, where nobody talks about freedom, because absolute freedom will accompany each person from the moment of birth, to his last breath. A world, where the happiness and freedom of the individual, will not happen in isolation but will include freedom and happiness of all of humanity. A world without war.

    A world without war is undisputed goal, that sooner or later humanity will definitely reach. It is the primary duty of every adult to fulfill a "world in peace"– everyone’s childhood dream. Every child surrounded by the horrors of war dreams that one day somebody will come and say "It is enough!" and by saying it bring war to an end. Then war will stop. That day has come! It's time to combine our efforts in order to make that dream come true. 

    April 3, 2014 at 5:01 pm | Reply
    • Teresa Coppola

      I agree.. I have been thinking about the word STOP for awhile now. We seem to be narrowly focused on Russia's actions as the possible beginning of a war, but it appears to me that Russia's actions are the tipping point; meaning that it is dangerously bringing us to the brink of a world war. Russia, North Korea, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Venezuela, Israel and the entire Middle East, wars upon wars, with the potential of one group of nations fighting another group of nations. With the crisis of climate change, limitations on resources, and posturing for world domination, we are so ripe for all out war. So I agree, the citizens of the world need to cry STOP.

      April 6, 2014 at 11:10 am | Reply
  23. Jorge Cano Capri

    Texas was once part of Mexico, but as Americans settled in Texas, outnumbering mexicans, they decided to separate from Mexico; which they did on their own without consulting the rest of the mexican states or Mexico. Texas then became an independent republic. Very soon afterwards, Texans asked to be annexed by the United States; which it did gladly. Since then Texas has been one more of the U.S. states. SOUND FAMILIAR? Was it ok for the U.S. to do that, and is it wrong for Russia to do basically the same? What is wrong for Russia to do is ok for the U.S. to do? Mexico has never asked for the return of Texas and neither has the U.N. This is just one example of international double-standards in the world, depending on who is affected. Sure, this happened 200 years ago or so, but the world is no better today than it was then. What is wrong is wrong and what is right is right today or 500 years ago. So Texas will remain a part of the U.S. and Crimea will remain part of Russia.

    April 4, 2014 at 9:26 pm | Reply

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