Czechoslovakia on Their Minds

By Hadar, Leon | The American Conservative, August 25, 2008 | Go to article overview
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Czechoslovakia on Their Minds

Hadar, Leon, The American Conservative

Neocon news flash: Hitler invades Georgia.

NEOCONSERVATIVES and their useful idiots in the American media have been on overdrive this August, rewinding to their World War II analogies and applying them to the fast-forwarding world of global politics. Exhibit A: the obvious likeness of the 2008 Bering Olympics to the 1936 Berlin Games. Hitlergram of the Month was the parallel drawn between Nazi-era filmmaker turned propagandist Leni Riefenstahl, who was invited by the Führer to film the Olympics in Berlin-the result being the technically and aesthetically impressive documentary "Olympia"-and the celebrated Chinese director Zhang Yimou, who was commissioned by his government to produce the magnificent opening ceremonies of the Beying Olympics. The power of analogy, there for the China-bashers' taking.

But no neocon narrative is complete without Czechoslovakia. Imagine your average Weekly Standard subscriber taking a free-association test and being asked to state the first words that come to his mind when he hears "Czechoslovakia" Rest assured, he would respond with "Munich," "appeasement," "Chamberlain," or "umbrella." And let's not forget "Hitler." Thus can anyone clamoring for U.S. military intervention in, say, the former Yugoslavia or the Persian Gulf, mount a successful media and public-relations campaign by identifying his chosen victim (the Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo, or Kuwait, or the Kurds) with Czechoslovakia and associating his preferred "aggressor" (Slobodan Milosevic or Saddam Hussein) with Hitler. Those Americans who resist pressure to deploy U.S. troops abroad to save the victim from the aggressor are appeasers leading the world into another Munich.

Here we go again. The details of who did what to precipitate Russia's war against Georgia are not very important," explained leading neocon foreign-policy ideologue Robert Kagan-who insists that he isn't a neocon at all-in a column in the Washington Post three days after the eruption of hostilities between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway province of South Ossetia. "Do you recall the precise details of the Sudeten Crisis that led to Nazi Germany's invasion of Czechoslovakia?" he asked. Kagan, one of the chief advisers to Republican presidential candidate John McCain, wants to kick "revisionist" Russia out of the G-8 and establish a League of Democracies as part of a strategy to contain the growing threat from Moscow. Kagan's answer to his rhetorical question in his column titled "Putin Makes his Move" (wink, wink-like you-know-who made his move 70 years ago): "Of course not, because that morally ambiguous dispute is rightly remembered as a minor part of a much bigger drama."

That would also be our new drama in which "little" Czechoslovakia becomes "tiny" Georgia, the South Ossetians stand in for the Sudeten Germans, Mikheil Saakashvili is Eduard Benes, Putin does Hitler, and we, of course, are required to reprise the role of Churchill. But according to Kagan the dramatist, there is a danger that well be tempted to beat our swords into umbrellas: "Now, as then, however, [feelings] are being manipulated to justify autocracy at home [in Russia] and to convince Western powers that accommodation-or to use the once-respectable term, appeasement-is the best policy."

The U.S. military is fighting two major wars in the Broader Middle East-perhaps three soon, if we follow the neocon advice to strike Iran-paid for by the central bankers in Bejjing, Tokyo, and Seoul. What sense does it make for Washington to risk a costly diplomatic conflict and perhaps a military confrontation with Russia over a local dispute in the Caucasus?

It makes perfect sense to Georgia's president, Mikheil Saakashvili. After carefully studying his Neoconseruatism for Dummies guide-required reading for any leader of a "color revolution" seeking U.S. dollars and troops-he began trying to convince Americans to "save" his country from the Russian "revanchists" by comparing Georgia to Czechoslovakia in 1938, warning that the defeat of Georgia at the hands of the Russians would be a blow against Western interests and values worldwide.

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