I’m not normally drawn to historical parallels, which are usually misleading, especially when they feature Hitler: take the most recent and egregious example, Andrew Bridgen MP’s comparison of anti-covid vaccinations to the Nazi Holocaust (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/conservative-mp-bridgen-whip-covid-holocaust-b2260105.html); but you can’t help thinking of Hitler when you look at the actions of Putin today. First Crimea (Sudetenland); then Donbas (Austria); then Ukraine (Poland)…. all in the interests of a ‘Greater Russia’ (Greater Germany); and against the background of what is taken to be an encircling and existential national threat – from Jews in the German case, or ‘the West’ in Russia’s. I’m sure there are other parallels too. And yet it’s Putin who is labelling the Ukrainians as Nazis, based, I presume, on memories – still – of the Second World War. Let’s hope, fervently, that it doesn’t lead to a third World War in this case.
What may be even more alarming are the comparisons that could be made between the ideologies (such as they are) of Putin’s Russia and of other menacing dictatorships just now – Iran and Afghanistan most currently. All of these regard themselves as reacting against Westernisation, or Western ‘imperialism’, or – to put it a way we in the West would prefer – ‘Western enlightenment’; not only in political terms (‘democracy’), but in cultural and social terms (women) too. That brings all these movements together on one side of the latest bilateral global divide, replacing the old ‘capitalist/communist’ and ‘North/South’ ones; and likely to dominate world politics for decades to come.