Putin as the “Good Hitler”

I doubt that this Putin defender did Putin any favors by comparing him to the “good” pre-1939 Hitler.

The article attacked [a critic of Putin] as “hell-spawn” and suggested that if Hitler had only stopped in 1939, he would be considered a “good Hitler.”

“One should distinguish the difference between Hitler before 1939 and Hitler after 1939 and separate chaff from grain,” Mr. Migranyan wrote. If Hitler had stopped after the “bloodless” reunification of German lands, including Austria and the Sudetenland, with the mother country, “he would have gone down in the history of his country as a politician of the highest order.”

The analogy here is that Putin is merely unifying Russian lands and not invading foreign countries for predatory reasons, which makes him a great statesman rather than, um, a Nazi.

I have said before that I think that Putin is punishing Ukraine for turning west and in this way issuing a warning to other neighbors. This is realpolitik without ideology. The “good Hitler” view is that Putin is an ideologically committed nationalist who seeks to create a greater Russia. The views are not the same. The nationalist will want to purge Russia’s minorities as well, or at least give them second-class status (or I suppose third-class status to the extent their status is already second-class); and will want to annex Russian-dominated territories of even friendly countries. The pre-1939 Hitler was not good, of course; the Nuremberg laws and Kristallnacht were in the past, and invasion of Eastern Europe and enslavement of Slavs were always part of the plan. He created a dictatorship, slaughtered his political opponents, and bullied his neighbors. Hitler’s militant style of nationalism couldn’t stop at the borders of German-speaking lands. Maybe Russian nationalists too will want to settle Russians in other areas.

Whatever his intentions, Putin has unleashed this virulent, self-destructive style of nationalism. Let’s hope he can (and wants to) put it back in the bottle.