Vladimir Putin’s newly published article on the lessons of World War II in “The National Interest”

The article referenced in the heading appeared a couple of days ago in a leading American think tank publication which traces its ancestry back to the Richard Nixon pro-détente circles of the nation’s capital. Indeed, the personality at its apex, Dmitry Simes, was Nixon’s Sherpa for dealings with the Soviet Union during his final years.

This article is being promoted by Russian diplomacy as the country’s official word on the significance of World War II for the present generation of Russians and of people everywhere during this year of celebration of the 75th anniversary of the war’s end.  In this connection, I was invited to offer my comments to the Russian online journal Sputnik, which came out with an article of commentary today:


My analysis, which is generously cited by Sputnik, was set out in full in the following:

In his article, Vladimir Putin has adopted a statesmanlike rather than argumentative tone. He has avoided naming directly the points in the historical revisionism being practiced in the West with respect to causes of World War II. This revisionism first developed in its present malignant form in the Baltic States and Poland going back twenty-five years when they loudly denounced Soviet responsibility in the start of the war arising from the deal with Hitler at their expense known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. In these countries it served the purposes of nation-building.   The revisionism has in recent years been given further amplification in the United State where fits of Russophobia have suited the cause of   NATO expansion and propped up American hegemony on the Old Continent. In the United States, it is not so much blame for the start of World War II as the air brushing of the Soviet Union out of the fight against Hitler so that the liberation of Europe appears to have been purely the result of the heroic Allied landings in Normandy and the drive across France and the Low Countries towards Berlin.

Vladimir Putin has chosen to focus more attention on the Munich Betrayal, which shows up Western complicity in the Nazis overrunning Europe, starting from the Sudetenland.  This is understandable, because the notion of Appeasement as symbolized by Chamberlain’s return to the UK from his shameful deal with Hitler claiming ‘peace in our time’, is precisely how most of the Western populations view the run-up to WWII.    And then there is the one finger he points at Poland reminding everyone that the Poles were actively conspiring with Berlin to dismember Czechoslovakia. He makes a veiled hint that the aristocracy in certain Western countries were quite happy to deal with Hitler and did not heed the warnings of Moscow and its bid to create a united resistance to German aggression from the mid-1930s when it may have till been possible to stop the Germans in their tracks.

In fact, the hand of Mr Putin is much stronger than he has cared to set out in this article.  He is showing great restraint, and I would argue perhaps too much restraint given the fierce level of Information Wars against Russia that have been going on in the past decade.

It bears mention that Appeasement was a Western policy that proceeded almost from the signing of the Versailles Treaty. This argument was made very persuasively by Henry Kissinger in his master work “Diplomacy” in 1994. It was appeasement in allowing the Germans not to pay the crushing reparations that the Treaty required, by allowing them gradually to recreate their army and reoccupy their lands militarily in violation of the Treaty way before Mr. Chamberlain came on the scene. Munich was merely the culmination of a long process wherein the different interests of France and England in particular during the interwar years as regards their defense against Germany.  And let us dot the ‘I’s which Mr Putin has left blank: it was specifically the pro-fascist sympathies of English royalty and aristocracy that prevented collective action.  There was a strong streak in European political classes hoping to see the Hitlerites send their forces to the East and destroy Bolshevism.

Of course, had President Putin gone into these specifics, there would be bellowing from London, from Washington against the Kremlin.  Instead, he has spoken obliquely.  It is hard to say what effect his mild words will have.

©Gilbert Doctorow, 2020

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