Former Secretary of State, and presumptive 2016 Democratic Presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton was at a fundraiser for the Long Beach Boys and Girls Club on Tuesday night. During the event, she discussed the situation between Ukraine and Russia at length. These were Mrs. Clinton’s first statements since the Ukrainian crisis flared up. In her remarks, she mentioned that there were parallels between that of Vladmir Putin and Russia and what Hitler and Nazi Germany did in the 1930s in the run-up to World War II.
“Now if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the 30s. All the Germans that were … the ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying they’re not being treated right. I must go and protect my people and that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous.”
Clinton was referring to the justification that Germany used to invade other countries or areas like Austria, Poland and Czechoslovakia in the late ’30s. Hitler stated then that he was concerned for the well-being of ethnic Germans and that he was looking out for their best interests. Therefore, Germans in Europe needed the protection of the German government and military, meaning countries with significant German populations needed to be annexed.
Clinton feels that Putin is using a similar justification to invade and occupy the Crimean region of Ukraine. The Russian government is handing out passports to ethnic Russians in Crimea and Putin has claimed that his main concern is for the Russian people living in Crimea during a period of instability within the Ukrainian government. At the same time, Putin has also stated that he has not sent in troops to the region (despite 16,000 Russian troops and military vehicles already verified to be there and captured on video) and that any military force shown in the region are local self-defense forces. Any efforts he has made so far in Ukraine are just for humanitarian purposes, per Putin.
In this instance, Clinton did not use hyperbole. While the mention of Hitler and Nazis typically makes one’s eyes roll over, as it is usually done in a completely inappropriate manner, Clinton correctly compared the two situations. She was also careful to state that Putin does not appear to be as irrational as Hitler and that she doesn’t think that this will lead to a World War-type scenario. However, Putin appears to be using the same arguments for invading a sovereign nation that Hitler did in the ’30s.
Obviously, the situation in Ukraine is fluid and is changing by the hour. Putin is perhaps dealing with a little bit of doubt and remorse over his recent actions and is trying to figure out a way to pull back while still saving face. The US has already pledged $1 billion in aid to Ukraine and its new government. At the same time, the G8 summit to be held in Sochi is in doubt. Not only are the other member nations considering not attending, but it is possible that Russia will be completely kicked out of the group. Economic sanctions against Russia are seriously being looked at and will almost certainly take effect if Putin moves forward with military action in Crimea and attempts to annex it from Ukraine.
Will there be some Republicans and conservatives who try to use Clinton’s words against her in a negative way? Absolutely. That is a definite. Just like we had some Republicans blame this whole Ukrainian situation on President Obama’s leadership. Some have even idiotically stated that Benghazi was the reason that this all happened. However, it won’t make a difference to Clinton, Obama or Secretary of State John Kerry. They are actually adults that are consumed with real-life problems as they occur, not penny-ante criticisms from the peanut gallery.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).