Tuesday, February 27, 2024
February 27, 2024

Viewpoint: Don’t ignore lessons of history

By COLIN ROSS

I am shocked and disappointed that the Green Party of Canada has decided we should not provide lethal support to the Ukraine. They believe we should encourage a negotiated settlement to the conflict.

This must be music to the ears of Vladimir Putin. Deny the people of Ukraine the means to defend themselves against a brutal, unprovoked attack, and hope the Russian dictator will stop the war and withdraw from their country. Good luck. Fortunately, this shameful attitude is not shared by the vast majority of democratic governments in the world, especially the member states of NATO.

Vladimir Putin is a monster, cut from the same cloth as Adolf Hitler. History should guide our response to his aggression. Before war broke out in September of 1939, Adolf Hitler tested the resolve of the European democracies. He occupied the Rhineland in March 1936 with no military consequences from France, even though the French army was many times larger than the German army at that time. Emboldened by this success, he occupied Austria in March 1938, again without consequences. This led to the occupation of the Sudetenland and subsequent dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in September 1938, when Neville Chamberlain appeased Hitler and sold the Czechs down the river, to Britain’s everlasting shame. War broke out one year later when Germany attacked Poland.

The tragic irony of this process became apparent after the war when a number of German generals testified at the Nuremburg Trials that, had the allies stood up to Hitler in the Rhineland, and later in Czechoslovakia, the German army would have had to withdraw and Hitler may well have been forced to resign. Bullies like Hitler and Putin thrive on weakness and only back down when faced with strength and resolve.

In 2014, Putin took the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine and declared it Russian territory. The European democracies and the United States did nothing to stop this, apart from protesting at the United Nations and instituting ineffective economic sanctions. Is it any surprise that Putin, emboldened by his success in the Crimea, decided to take all of the Ukraine when he launched his attack one year ago on Feb. 24?

No doubt the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian military has surprised Putin and earned the admiration of the free world. We must not abandon these people in their desperate fight for freedom and democracy. In the dark days of the Second World War, when Britain and her commonwealth stood alone in the fight against Naziism, Winston Churchill asked President Roosvelt: “Give us the tools and we will finish the job!” The parallel today is obvious. When President Zelensky asks for military aid from us, we should certainly provide all the lethal support he needs to end the conflict and return his nation to freedom.

The Green Party of Canada is a pathetic example of how well-meaning people often ignore the lessons of history: we should reject their shameful policy of appeasement and redouble our material support for the Ukraine. Isn’t it obvious?

The writer is a Salt Spring resident and former teacher.

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