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“Any student of politics who does not understand how Hitler operated in the 1930s, does not understand politics.”


At some point in international discourse, it became not okay to compare anyone to Adolf Hitler. Saddam Hussein is like Hitler? George W. Bush is like Hitler? Next thing you know, every president of the United States gets a Hitler mustache painted on his upper lip. Everywhere you turn, someone compares someone to Hitler. Come on, you say, isn’t that not helpful? It seems like the epithet of the day, when people level the comparison so often. How would you like it if I called you Hitler?

Vladimir Putin and Prince Charles

Then Prince Charles, in a private conversation with Marienne Ferguson, observed that Putin’s tactics in Ukraine were like Hitler’s tactics in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and other states near Germany’s eastern border. Charles said, truthfully, that history was repeating itself. The tabloid press in London went nuts. The nationalists in Moscow went nuts. Who knows who else, especially in Europe, went nuts? We have another Hitler comparer on the loose. He’s a royal! We have to catch and throttle him, to make sure it does not happen again.

Nazis in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

The odd thing is, Charles’s comparison is exactly on the mark. He knows his history. Hitler would send his agents across the border to engage in violent mischief in the neighboring country. So does Putin. When the neighboring government tried to stop the troublemakers, Hitler said he had to protect German nationals abroad, who by the way, should not have to live outside their homeland. Does that sound like the language we hear coming from Putin’s mouth in his public pronouncements on Ukraine?

The worse the violence in the target country, violence initiated by so-called agents provocateurs, the more justification the stronger power has for full intervention with its own military force. Sooner or later, the invasion comes. Russia acted so fast in Crimea, no one had time to mount much of a response. Because Putin had so many military forces already in Crimea, he needed minimal pre-invasion mischief in Crimea. In Ukraine’s eastern provinces, where Kiev has mounted a fight, Putin follows Hitler’s practice closely.