A Meditation on President Putin’s Warning from History

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A Meditation on President Putin’s Warning from History

June 21, 2020

By Ken Leslie for The Saker Blog

1. The last warning…

In the middle of the current global turmoil, largely ignored by the Western media, President Vladimir Putin of Russia recently wrote an article for the National Interest magazine (the article is featured on this site). In it, he magisterially dissected and integrated one of the most disputed topics in contemporary history—the cause(s) and antecedent(s) of World War II. The article is long and very detailed, drawing on a rich historical and historiographic documentation and it leaves no stone unturned. The point I wish to elaborate on here is that far from being a historical dissertation, the article is a last warning to the enemies delivered in the form of a parable. Rather than expound on the precarious state of the world and the seemingly inexorable drift to war, Putin used the tragic landscape of the late 1930s Europe to shed light not only on the true causes of WWII but also on the causes of a rapidly approaching WWIII.

Although discussing all the principal players responsible for perhaps the greatest holocide in history, I had a feeling that the article was aimed particularly at the Anglo-Saxon part of the Western empire (which also includes the EU, Israel and some Arab and Asian countries). Although I can’t be certain, there is a sense that this is president Putin’s last appeal to the former allies in the struggle against Nazism, the last melancholy hand of friendship extended to the powers that almost ignited WWII and are busy repeating the same horrible ritual of a total war against Russia. There is something deeply Russian and Orthodox Christian about Putin’s appeal. Precisely because he is aware of the deep enmity that the Anglo-Saxon establishment harbours for Russia in all its manifestations, he is that much more grateful to the British and American soldiers and statesmen for that all-too-brief, almost miraculous interlude of friendship and co-operation, that even today 80 years later appears to many like an unfortunate tear in the yarn of history.

And yet, this interlude offered a glimpse of a new dawn. The people in the West saw with their own eyes how uniquely heroic the Soviet people were in the defence of their motherland. The workers and peasants of the Soviet Union realised that there were many good people in the West who did not bear the eternal grudge but were glad to have the USSR on their side. It is often assumed that this short détente lasted five years—from the start of the German invasion until say, 1946, but this would not be accurate. The mistrust between the almost-allies was such that it took a concerted effort by Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt as well as a number of well-disposed politicians (e.g. Harry Hopkins, Anthony Eden) to cement the bond which started to crack well before the end of hostilities.

The “weakest link” in the allied leadership chain was Winston Churchill. Not fond of Russians to say the least, he was an imperialist and anti-communist par excellence. The current anti-racism protests show that this side of Churchill is well known to the younger generation. Whose fault is it that those same younger people don’t remember that Churchill once suppressed his natural instincts and fought a good fight against the greatest menace the world has ever known? Here again, we see the results of a massive blowback caused by the unceasing attempts to diminish the international and anti-fascist nature of the war-time alliance and WWII. Instead of cherishing the values that were defended by the three great nations, modern historians and politicians (with few exceptions) have competed in ways of demonising the Soviet Union (and Russia), burying the existential threat of nazi-fascism and treating WWII as a bloody misunderstanding among otherwise friendly nations. Yes, Nazi Germany was dangerous, but the USSR and its successor have been much more pernicious.

Granted, Churchill’s leadership in WWII was not enough to secure him a prime ministership in 1945, but the overall positive role he played in allying himself with the Americans and Soviets and his reputation as an anti-fascist gradually withered and ultimately died by the end of the last century. In a way, his fate is more tragic than that of Stalin who was the first to experience the “awakening of the people”. Although Stalin has not been fully rehabilitated, his role in saving the Soviet Union and freeing the world from the fascist beast is slowly being recognised and re-evaluated.

It was Churchill who started undermining the war-time alliance long before the guns fell silent. He sabotaged the relationship between Roosevelt and Stalin, refused to consider giving independence to British colonies, undermined the prospects of a progressive US government via his intelligence apparatus in the USA (he sent Roald Dahl to spy on Henry Wallace) and in the ultimate betrayal of the good faith that was supposed to underpin the alliance, began planning an all-out attack on the Soviet Union as early as 1944. Named Operation Unthinkable, this plan envisaged a massive offensive against the USSR which would involve Polish troops and even re-armed German prisoners of war.

Many historical records note Stalin’s deep disappointment and a sense of hurt at the betrayal of the blood brotherhood by Churchill and Truman. Long after peace returned to the villages and cities of Europe, Stalin kept warning and beseeching his former allies not to throw away the legacy of friendship and co-operation. Despite the decades of cruel and inhumane attacks on the USSR that ensued, contributing substantially to its downfall, Soviet leaders and people never forgot the supreme sacrifice made by British and American soldiers and sailors who gave their lives in the struggle against the common enemy. This tradition of honouring the Western allies has been preserved and nurtured by President Putin. The campaign in the West to denigrate the great sacrifice of the Soviet people brought about an absurd situation in which the brave British sailors who took part in the war-time convoys that delivered badly needed supplies to the USSR were barred from receiving Soviet decorations by David Cameron.[1]

Perhaps the most hurtful and one could say evil blow that the former reluctant allies could deliver has been the attempt to re-write the history of WWII and treat Russia as a co-aggressor on the par with Germany. This is a red line for any Russian patriot and any right-thinking human being. The constant pressure to delegitimise the role of the USSR in freeing the world from the menace of fascism has led to the revival of fascist tendencies in some European countries including Croatia, the Baltic states, the Ukraine and others. These virulent forms of extreme nationalism (Chauvin-ism) were salvaged from the embers of the dying Nazi Reich, cultivated for decades in the satanic laboratories of the Western intelligence services (including Israel’s) and weaponised against Russia and its allies.[2]

A special role in the total war against Russia has been assigned to Poland—a Slav nation whose complex history has largely rested on a constant opposition to Russia and somewhat less, Germany. Briefly, Poland’s raison d’etre and geopolitical role has been to act as a spoiler in any attempts to bring about a peaceful co-existence in Europe. In the 1920s and 1930s, Polish extreme right-wing (it could be argued fascist) regime saw the country as a major power which by virtue of its religion and military prowess should rule over Central Europe.[3] The Vatican’s Intermarium (“between the seas”) project designed in the 19th Century aimed at countering the rise of the protestant Prussia in the West and Orthodox Russia in the East. It involved forming a federation from the (now former) Austro-Hungarian Slav provinces under the auspices of the Catholic Church. After the Bolshevik revolution, Poland put the plan into practice and awarded itself the leadership of the prospective “cordon sanitaire”. With the help of its Western patrons (especially Britain and France), it occupied the largely Russian-speaking regions of the Ukraine and Byelorussia. Under the doctrine of Prometheism, Poland started lighting “fires of freedom” all along the Soviet border. The rest of Poland’s nefarious role has been (belatedly) exposed by Russian historians. Far from being an innocent victim of Nazi expansionism, Poland wholeheartedly collaborated with Germany in plotting against the Soviet Union, planning the mass removal of the Jews, sabotaging any possibility of an anti-Nazi alliance and enslaving and converting their “heathen” Slav brethren.

It is this giant geopolitical déjà vu combined with an exponentially increasing risk of a global war that must have compelled president Putin to address the Western audiences—perhaps for the last time. As recently as 50 years ago, it would have been unthinkable for Western politicians and media to equate the USSR and Germany with regard to the culpability for the war. Yet, a concerted campaign in the Western media and chancelleries that accompanied the fall the of the USSR and the ramping up of a Russophobic campaign in the intervening years have led to the current dangerous impasse which leaves no room for diplomacy and negotiation. Largely unnoticed by the commenters, in his inimitable subtle and statesmanlike style, president Putin delivered to the western public what I believe to be the last appeal for peaceful co-existence. As I stated above, the appeal was directed primarily at the Anglo-Saxon powers which are currently at the forefront of the undeclared war against Russia.

He reminded his former allies of the dangers of using “running dogs” such as Poland or the Ukraine in order to destabilise Russia. He also informed them in no uncertain terms of Russia’s determination not to allow any further besmirching of its historic sacrifice. No more mollycoddling of petty fascist fiefdoms in the name of class or ethnic/racial solidarity. It was also a warning to the Poles that their state policy of siding with any country as long as it is inimical to Russia can only lead to ruin and renewed partition. I’ll paraphrase the notorious Russophobe Josef Beck, one of the chief architects of Poland’s pre-WWII foreign policy, who admitted after the war that Poland was destroyed because it had been acting in the interests of the Vatican and not the Polish people.

In other words, president Putin drew a line—if you wish to avoid a potential nuclear war, stop demonising and destabilising Russia and join us in creating a more equitable world. Russia will never abandon its unique civilisational path and any attempts at thwarting its legitimate claim to life and development will be punished harshly. Russian insistence on peaceful conflict resolution should not be confused for weakness. Having experienced one of the greatest genocides in history, Russia will never advocate war. But if war becomes inevitable, it will fight to the death. This stern warning was couched in the language of reconciliation. President Putin harks back to the war-time alliance with the USA and Great Britain to remind the modern audiences that confrontation is not the only way but that if attacked, Russia would defend itself to the last Russian and inflict terrible and (this time) unsustainable damage.

As noted by some commenters, his message might have been too subtle for the ignorant and ideologically blinded hacks posing as geopolitical experts in the West. So, let me enlighten them a bit by explaining the deeper meaning of president Putin’s message. Those who think that this has to do mainly with righting the wrongs of modern Western history are only partly correct. The main point is simple yet profound: Whichever form the Russian state takes, it will never be accepted as an equal by the racists, fascists and religious bigots in the West. The President is deeply aware of this but is hoping against hope that some form of détente is still possible. To elucidate the situation, he uses historical precedent to highlight the similarity between the geopolitical situations in 1941 and today and delivers a parable disguised as a historical treatise.

2. History doesn’t repeat…

A long time ago, there was a large and powerful country—let’s call it country X. Having gone through a decade of terrible convulsions and a series of civil wars which resulted in millions of deaths and a wholesale destruction of the country’s social and political systems, it began to grow and develop and this growth was perceived as a direct challenge to the Western imperialist system. The country was far from perfect. Years of suffering and neglect had taken their toll and large parts of the country needed rebuilding—especially the transport infrastructure. The people were traumatised and yearning for peace. Then, somewhat unexpectedly, a strong leader emerged who shunned the idea of imperial expansion and focussed on building up the country and preparing it for a possible war. In a famous speech, the leader warned that the country needed to catch up with the West and warned of the dangers of the attempts by the imperialist enemy to encircle and destroy it.

The leader knew that the accusations levelled at his country were mainly propaganda lies. While some Westerners were fascinated by the rapid development of the vast land, most were convinced that the ideas of suppression of rampant capitalism, development within one’s own borders, ending of imperialism and moving towards a multipolar world were seriously endangering the survival of the imperialist system. In order to curtail and extinguish the perennial enemy, the Western powers started inflaming extreme nationalism in their client states (combined with financial globalism) to encircle and destroy the only country that was a threat to their dominance. Although one country was preeminent in terms of military might, the strategy called for continental unity and this was achieved by co-opting smaller countries one after another and pushing the borders of the aggressive empire ever closer to those of country X. Hiding behind the enlightened principle of defending the Western civilisation against the peril from the East, the Empire’s aim was to surround and eventually destroy country X in order to plunder its natural wealth and human resources and forever extinguish its spirit.

The leader of X was desperate to avoid conflict. Through an international forum set up to prevent future wars, he reached out to Western governments time after time trying to convince them of his peaceful intentions and readiness to co-operate in building a peaceful multipolar world. All his attempts were in vain. The military machine of the West was moving inexorably towards his country. Not only that but a new threat emerged from a belligerent rapidly militarising island off the country’s Eastern coast whose militarist revival was supported by X’s principal enemy. The loudest and most vicious enemy of country X was a smaller neighbouring state whose rabid hatred of X and religious zeal ensured its preeminent position as the mailed fist of the Western aggression. With the help of Western intelligence services, this country encouraged and funded innumerable plots against country X and sabotaged its attempts to revamp the international security architecture.

The leader of X was demonised in the imperialist press as a ruthless butcher of various nations and ethnic groups within or outside his country, an autocrat whose ruthless grip on power was maintained by fear and whose removal of foreign agents from the political and economic apparatus was evidence of his genocidal bloodthirst. By means of a vicious propaganda campaign, a regime of harsh sanctions and an intelligence offensive, X was gradually turned into a pariah, isolated and despised. At the same time, X gave hope to many people around the world that a more just and fair society was possible. Poor countries still burdened by colonialism and imperialism looked especially favourably on X as a potential patron and protector.

Instead of folding under the ostracism and pressure of sanctions, X continued to develop rapidly and soon outpaced most of its Western competitors. The leader of X attempted to parry the concerted campaign of the imperialist enemy by reaching out to various Western countries trying to create a united defensive front. However, this was made impossible by a fascist feeding frenzy that led to a dismemberment and occupation of a previously neutral/friendly country.

In a belated attempt at creating a buffer zone against the merciless existential foe, X recaptured some of the territories it had lost previously. For this it was lambasted and chastised even more. The critical moment came when the enemy, emboldened by years of appeasement and dithering, breeched the old borders of X and quickly found itself about 450 km away from the capital of X. An erroneous perception of the enemy places all the blame for the aggression on a single country. Yet, with a couple of honourable exceptions, the entire continent contributed troops and logistical, financial, economic and propaganda support to the aggressor.

3. Guess who

The legerdemain I employed here to illustrate the peril facing the world might just work. If you toggle USSR/Russia, Germany/US-NATO, Czechoslovakia/Yugoslavia/Ukraine, you will realise that the similarities between that faithful summer of 1941 and the COVID-infected summer of 2020 are more than accidental. I leave it to you to fill in the names of other players. I am not claiming that the two situations are identical, but simply that the template of demonisation perseveres through centuries and political systems. If I’d tried harder, I could have fitted the Russian empire into this template but it is not worth the effort—not because the Russian empire does not matter but because the comparison between the USSR and modern Russia suffices for my purposes.[4] In the same way that Stalin used religion and tradition to strengthen the fighting spirit of the people, Putin is turning to the epic struggle of the Soviets to prepare the Russian people for what is likely to come. In a supreme irony (another one of these) in its attempt to suffocate the historical memory of Russia’s role in WWII the West has denigrated its own effort to the point where younger generations of Westerners have no knowledge of their ancestors’ just war. In a sense, this is the blowback of all blowbacks.

The rest of the story which now refers to WWII goes something like this: At this very last moment, when all hope was lost, the leaders of the three major powers overcame their suspicions and joined hands in an epic struggle against fascism and militarism. For president Putin (and many of us) this moment was magical—akin to the brief state of weightlessness induced by a freefalling aeroplane. Freed from the gravity of earthly power, the world could ascend to new hights of peaceful development. His plea/warning is unlikely to be heeded by the intended audience. Nevertheless, it is very necessary. The world cannot afford another summer of war because this one would be unbearably hot. Briefly, Putin is saying “Remember your brave ancestors who gave their lives in the joint struggle and honour them by embracing Russia as an equal and respected partner.” Putin’s essay is a wholesale repudiation of the canard that “countries don’t have friends, only interests”. Although he is appealing to the sound political interests of his Western “partners”, he is articulating something greater—a world based not on predation and profit but on humane and universally valid civilisational principles.

There is little hope that his hand will be grasped by the current lot of political clowns who are currently in power in the West. While pretending to be friendly to Russia, the Jesuitical fraud Trump has done more to damage the Russian-American ties than most of his predecessors taken together. The mendacious tapir Boris is doubling down on using the Ukraine to irritate and annoy Russia.[5] In that, he bears some similarity to his idol Churchill who spared no effort to criticise the Russian Empire and sabotage the Soviet Union. However, the comparison ends there. Unlike Churchill, who despite his despicable ideology and actions was a statesman of a great calibre, Boris is a Churchill wannabe who unlike his idol seems incapable of grasping the uniqueness of the present moment and the importance of not repeating historical mistakes.

  1. To my knowledge, president Putin has never publicly addressed the occupation of parts of Russia by the allied intervention forces in 1918. 
  2. Note similar attempts by the Anglo-Zionist empire to equate China with imperial Japan through the curriculum of Hong Kong schools 
  3. My criticism of Poland does not imply my fondness for Bolshevism. Needless to say, Poland has never changed its position vis-à-vis Russia irrespective of the latter’s system of government. 
  4. In the same way that Stalin and Putin have been accused of being the butchers of the Ukrainians, Chechens and Tatars, Nicholas II was being lambasted by the “progressive” Jews for the pogroms (which occurred mainly in the Western non-Orthodox areas of the Russian Empire). Despite saving the Jews from the holocaust and being the first to support and recognise Israel (also see The Jewish Autonomous Oblast), Stalin soon became the bete noire of the Zionists/Trotskyites and a synonym for antisemitism. Despite having excellent relations with the Russian Jews and Israel, Putin has been the target of Zionist wrath almost from the beginning. The reader should draw their own conclusions. 
  5. British involvement with the Ukrainian nationalism stretches back to the end of WWII when Sir Collin Gubbins took over from Abwehr as the runner of the Prometheus terrorist network. Of course, the links between the MI6 and Polish inspired anti-Soviet networks almost certainly existed before 1939. 
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