Bill O’Brien of the Edmund Sun reports on the horrifying similarity between 1930s Europe and 2000s Russia, and the disgusting complicity of the U.S. President in the rise of the Neo-Soviet Union. La Russophobe has nothing but respect for George Bush’s ability to keep the nation 100% free from acts of terror on the homeland since 9/11 and for his ability to hold control of both houses of Congress for the Republican Party, an admirable feat to say the least. But his conduct of America’s Russia policy has been an unmitigated disaster. There is still time for him to come around, and La Russophobe begs him to do so. If he doesn’t, he’ll meet the judgment of history. O’Brien reports:
“He is one cool dude,” President George W. Bush is reported as saying about Russian President Vladimir Putin in “Kremlin Rising, Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the End of Revolution,” a book written by Washington Post Moscow correspondents Peter Baker and Susan Glasser. The correspondents report Bush made that statement after meeting the Russian leader in June of 2001 in a conference in Slovenia in Eastern Europe.
But the authors remind us that Putin was formerly an agent of the Soviet KGB, and while he assured Western leaders like Bush that he was committed to democracy and freedom in Russia, the policies he has pursued as president have served to return Russia to an authoritarian state. Baker and Glasser also make clear that Bush has grown disillusioned with Putin in recent years. The recent North Korean nuclear test and the increase in violence in Iraq have served to distract the world’s attention away from events that are occurring in the Russian Republic and involve the neighboring Republic of Georgia.
Georgia, which had been a member state of the Soviet Union and had close relations with Russia since the dissolution of the USSR, elected a government last year that is committed to aligning it with the West. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has committed his nation to NATO, the American-led defense organization of Europe and to membership in the European Economic Union. Those moves have served to anger Russia. In recent days, Putin’s government forcibly has deported thousands of Georgian citizens and has closed down many businesses and markets that had been operated by Georgian citizens.
It has been reported that children with Georgian surnames have been expelled from Russian schools in the Moscow area. Russian banks have been ordered to cease transmitting payments from account holders to their relatives in Georgia, and rail service from Russia to Georgia has been terminated.
Putin made a statement last week in which he alleged that many outdoor markets in Russia are controlled by ethnic gangs, which was seen as a reference to Georgian merchants, and the Russian people should control them in the future. The Russian media, which takes direction from Putin’s government, has been portraying Georgians in an unfavorable light in recent weeks.
The New York Times quoted one observer in Moscow who said the Russian government is now engaged in ethnic cleansing against the Georgians in Russia.On Nov. 10, 1938, the Nazi regime began a violent campaign against the Jewish residents of Germany that included the destruction of hundreds of Jewish-owned businesses and synagogues Several days earlier, a young Jew whose family had been expelled from Germany had shot a German diplomat in the French capital of Paris, and the attacks on Germany’s Jews were done by Hitler Youth Groups and Nazi storm troopers at the direction of the government in response. The event would be known to history as “Kristallnacht” due to the shards of broken glass from businesses owned by Jews that filled the streets throughout Germany.
British historian Martin Gilbert, who has written a definitive history of Kristallnacht, points out that six weeks prior to the attack, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and other European leaders had met with Adolph Hitler in Munich and had agreed to give Germany what is now the Czech Republic in the hope that doing so would ensure there would not be war in Europe. Gilbert makes clear that after the violence and brutality displayed on Kristallnacht many people began to realize that efforts to appease Hitler were doomed to fail and he eventually would plunge Europe into war.
It remains to be seen if a similar lesson will be gleaned from Putin’s treatment of Georgia and the Georgians who reside in Russia.