Monday, May 09, 2005

Victory Day

Abdulhakim Ismailov, planting the Soviet flag on the Reichstag
Photo: Yevgeny Khaldei, May 1945
Today is the 60th anniversary of the capitulation of Nazi Germany, which ended World War Two. Americans call it "V-E day" (Victory in Europe), because they don't consider the war ended till September, with the surrender of Japan; but it would be much more accurate to say that Europe and the Pacific were actually two separate wars, sharing the U.S. as one of the principal belligerents.

Anyway, there is a ceremony in Moscow today to mark the anniversary, given that the bulk of casualties against the Reich were sustained by the Red Army and Soviet civilians; I believe the figures featured recently were 150,000 Americans vs. 11 million Soviet soldiers alone. The Red Army lost tens of thousands of men street-fighting into Berlin, before its troops could hoist the hammer-and-sickle on the ruins of the Reichstag.

But sixty years after the defeat of Hitler, there ought to be some soul-searching as to whose victory it was. The USSR was devastated. The British Empire was shattered. And to the real detriment of its people, America stopped being a republic and became a full-fledged, big-government, military-industrial Empire.

After 45 years of fearing a nuclear holocaust, the collapse of Communism scrambled the map of Europe again, to the point where today's reach of EU and NATO resembles the reach of the Reich in 1942. Further, the collapse of the USSR left the American Empire without a counterweight, and gave the world the "benevolent global hegemony" of Uncle Sam's cruise missiles. Between the democide, nuclear madness and a comprehensive assault on human liberty and dignity, that's hardly a victory.

One could argue that defeat would have looked like a global Auschwitz, but that's hardly appropriate. First, because anything would be better (so that's hardly an argument in favor of the present condition), and second, because the war wasn't fought over the Holocaust, regardless what today's propaganda tends to say.

The 60th anniversary of Nazi surrender is marred by arrogant American pontification about modern Russia's lack of atonement for the sins of Communism. The Baltic republics, Poland, and other nations formerly annexed or allied with the USSR don't seem to regard 1945 as a moment of liberation. And that's their right - though it would be vastly less hypocritical if those same countries weren't staunch satellites of Washington now. Or if they hadn't been allied with the Nazis back then. Or if the "Atlantic Empire" wasn't so obsessed with establishing a hostile perimeter around Russia, which is hurting badly from 70 years of Communist misrule. As Justin Raimondo puts it:
"That Moscow now finds itself in a circle of steel, surrounded by enemies armed and brought to power by the West, should disabuse Putin of any notion that he can successfully appease the West and avoid being targeted as the latest "dictator" to fall. They will come for him, or they will come for his successor. They are already on the way."

Stalin's reasoning for invading eastern Poland and annexing the Baltic republics in 1939 was to create a buffer between him and the Nazis (they may have signed a non-aggression pact, but only a fool could not see that a war between them was inevitable). Those extra miles - along with Hitler's two-month delay to attack Yugoslavia - may well have meant the difference between Barbarossa succeeding, and its eventual miserable failure in the mud and ice just short of Moscow. Stalin employed the same reasoning when at the end of the war, he claimed everything east of the Oder-Neisse line as a buffer against the Western Allies. Now the Empire's investment of Russia appears to be vindicating Stalin. How's that for irony on Victory Day?

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