Monday, February 21, 2022

Munich II: History Repeats Itself

I find it bizarre, even chilling, that the most recent meeting on the current Ukraine situation was in Munich, famous for the 1938 authorization of Hitler's annexation of the Sudetenland. For all the bluster about threatened sanctions, this looks like a repeat. The critical fact is that the Nato countries are not willing to provide military support for Ukraine, despite the fact that their combined military is considerably stronger than Russia's. All else is talk.

P.S. (2/22/22) Hitler claimed that he only wanted to annex the Sudetenland, a part of Czechoslovakia with a substantial German speaking population. Putin has recognized two Ukrainian provinces in the eastern part of the country with a substantial pro-Russian population as independent countries and sent in Russian troops as "peacekeeping" forces. 

Hitler went on to annex all of Czechoslovakia. My guess, given the location of Russian military forces, is that Putin intends to treat any attempt by the Ukrainian military to resist his invasion as an attack on the provinces he has just recognized as countries and so an excuse to invade the rest of the country, seize the capital, and install a pro-Russian government.

But we will see.

P.P.S. 2/24/22 A second historical parallel occurs to me. When Italy invaded Abyssinia, France and the U.K., unwilling to use naval force to prevent the invasion, instead applied economic sanctions — with no significant effect other than persuading Mussolini, who had been pro-allied in WWI, that they were not his friends and not very dangerous enemies.


Thomas L. Knapp said...

The MOST critical fact is that Putin is declining to play Neville Chamberlain while NATO eyes Ukraine the way Hitler eyed the Sudetenland.

David Friedman said...

As far as I know, no Nato troops have invaded or even threatened to invade.

Review said...

It does seem to oddly mirror the run up to WW II. Putin is essentially using the Russian population abroad as a pretext for invasion.

It makes sense too: It makes it difficult to identify a bright line that's crossed.

I wonder how the Baltic situation will play out. Putin can come to the aid of the Russian minorities there that are mistreated (according to him). Will NATO members invoke article 5 then?

Jonathan said...

NATO doesn't want to get involved in a major war unless it has to, which seems sensible enough to me. And it doesn't have to, unless and until one of its own members is attacked.

As for Putin, I think he already knew that he has no real friends in the world. And he won't find out whether NATO is a dangerous enemy unless and until he attacks a NATO member. It should have been fairly clear for some time that he can attack non-members without facing more than economic sanctions.

I don't think NATO as a whole has any intention of intervening here, there, and everywhere around the world. The USA used to do that, but it's getting tired of doing it, after various failed interventions.