In August 1939 — 75 years ago this week — Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin signed the Hitler-Stalin Pact. In the wake of the Russo-German alliance, newspaper wits coined the term “ComunNazi.” Communist-Nazi. Yes, “red” and “brown” entwined as the dictatorships they are.
The two dictators’ legions of liars hailed the deal as a peace treaty. Peace? Eastern Europeans in the dictators’ gun sights scorned the falsehood.
“Peace in our time, ” Neville Chamberlain had proclaimed after the wretched Munich deal of 1938, which gave Hitler permission to annex slices of Czechoslovakia. Of course, when given a slice, Hitler annexed the whole.
Expansionist dictators take until stopped by superior power. For these beasts, peace is war by other means, and the other means always involve deception.
On Aug. 31, 1939, with the ink barely dry on the dictators’ peace pact, for the sake of expansionist war, Germany conducted a “false flag” operation. Pretending to be Poles, German soldiers launched a fake assault on a German border station. For dictators, falsehood serves. On Sept. 1, Hitler’s panzers began to roll toward Warsaw. On, Sept. 17, without a formal declaration of war, Stalin’s Red Army “forces of international socialism” attacked Poland from the east.
In fall 1939, after the German and Russian invasion of Poland, the Nazis and Communists absorbed Polish territory into their respective states.
Lies, vehement denial, propaganda, plausible deniability, a “so what” shrug — the tools Hitler and Stalin used are not artifacts of 1939. 2014 provides us with a bitter example. “In our time,” former KGB colonel and Stalin heir, Vladimir Putin, is invading Ukraine by increment. As his troops infiltrate, Putin lies, denies, dangles prospects for peace and then threatens to cut off natural gas shipments.
Thanks to him, annexation is not a 1930s artifact. In March 2014 Putin’s Kremlin annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.
“CommunNazi” disappeared in 1941 when Hitler double-crossed Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union. We need to resurrect it and apply it to Putin. The Russian president has resuscitated and combined ultra-nationalist and ultra-statist (communists) anti-liberal ideologies. Whether he governs as a “national socialist” or simply runs the Kremlin as a criminal oligarchy is of little matter; he has effective control of the Russian economy. He also exercises state control of culture and media.
Until the July 2014 shoot-down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, Kremlin spin managed to confuse just enough people in the West to prevent the formation of an anti-Putin front. German Chancellor Angela Merkel claims that will change.
After the MH17 disaster, the Kremlin claimed that Ukrainians fired the missile and perhaps — just perhaps — they were trying to shoot down an airliner carrying President Putin!
Outlandish? Of course. However, dictators employ “the big lie of the moment” because, with certain groups of useful idiots, it works. Often, the bolder and more outlandish the “big lie,” the better. Conspiracy theorists lap it up.