George Santayana warned us about people who do not know history. How about this history? In 1936 we attended the Berlin Olympics even though Germany had already opened its concentration camps. In Asia, Japan pushed to establish an Asian Co-prosperity Sphere where it would be the center of all Asia and rule Asiatic lands whether directly or through concentration of commerce. The Japanese had invaded China and taken captive and enslaved tens of thousands of Chinese. Germany had taken back the Rhineland and was making noises about the Sudetenland based on its common language and the need for Lebensraum (living space) for the Germanic people. The Soviets, smarting from their 1920 defeat at the hands of the Poles, wanted revenge and a return of the territory they had lost after WWI when Poland was recreated after its 1773 partition by Prussia, Russia, and Austria. Additionally Russia wanted the return of the Baltic states also reestablished at the end of WWI.
Now we have China with a greater Co-prosperity Sphere than the Japanese ever imagined. They have enslaved the Muslim Uyghurs, occupy Tibet and are now threatening to take Taiwan by force. In 2014 Russia invaded Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula under the pretext that its Russian speaking citizens wanted to be part of Russia. It now has more than a 100,000 troops massed on the northern border of the remainder of Ukraine and is making threats about security. Why shouldn’t it take Ukraine, nothing was done to punish them for taking the Crimea. See any similarities to the Rhineland? In the invasion of Poland the Germans staged a supposed attack on a German outpost by Polish soldiers. The dead bodies were actually those of Poles captured by the Germans and then killed. In China, Japan had staged a similar “outrage” with the Mukden Railroad incident perpetrated by the Japanese themselves but blamed on the Chinese. Upon this “excuse” the Japanese invaded Manchuria and set up a puppet government. Remember, this was 1931, two years before Hitler would come to absolute power in Germany through a similar incident of the Reichstag fire where communists were accused of burning the parliament. While not proven, if you research the historical details of the fire it is evident the one communist with fire starters supposedly arrested at the scene could in no way be responsible for the fire. Look it up, it’s fascinating reading but you want to go further for it was this singular act that was used to abolish freedom of speech, assembly, privacy and the press; legalized phone tapping and the interception of correspondence. In one week democracy in Germany was abolished and one party rule was established. If you see another similarity closer to home with a certain congressional investigation you might want to be more concerned. Democracy had truly been under threat but it wasn’t from the communists but those who actually conducted the investigation and used it as a pretense to do the very thing they accused the communists of attempting orchestrate.
History tells us that Western Politicians did little to nothing to stop either Germany or Japan during the ramp up to their openly declaring war on their neighbors. The European governments were weak and the United States was mired in an isolationist illusion that what happened in Asia and Europe did not affect us. But it would, to the tune of tens of billions of dollars and more than 400,000 dead, not to mention wiping out entire generations of families.
Want to know what is coming next? Take out your history books and see. It’s the 1930s all over again. Oh, and if Ukraine goes can the Baltic states be far behind?