Depicting Vladimir Putin as a fascist all but explicitly puts today’s Russia in the same category as the murderous totalitarian regimes that Snyder indicts in Bloodlands. Doing so, in effect, summons the United States and its NATO allies to wage something akin to total war in Europe. After all, this country should no more compromise with the evil of present-day Russia than it did with the evil of Hitler’s Germany during World War II or Stalin’s Soviet Union during the Cold War.
For Snyder, therefore, the job immediately at hand is not just the honorable one of assisting the Ukrainians in defending themselves. The real task — the obligation, even — is to decisively defeat Russia, ensuring nothing less than democracy’s very survival. “As in the 1930s,” he writes, “democracy is in retreat around the world and fascists have moved to make war on their neighbors.”
As a consequence, “if Russia wins in Ukraine,” he insists, the result won’t simply be the brutal destruction of one imperfect democracy, but “a demoralization for democracies everywhere.” A Kremlin victory would affirm “that might makes right, that reason is for the losers, that democracies must fail.” If Russia prevails, in other words, “fascists around the world will be comforted.” And “if Ukraine does not win” — and winning, Snyder implies, will require regime change in Moscow — then “we can expect decades of darkness.”
So once again, as in the 1930s, it’s time to choose sides. To paraphrase a recent American president, you are either with us or you’re with the fascists.
Allow me to confess that I was once susceptible to this sort of either/or binary thinking as an organizing principle of global politics. I grew up during the Cold War, when bipolarity — a U.S.-led Free World pitted against a Soviet-controlled communist bloc — offered a conceptual framework that any patriotic adolescent could grasp. […]
On that score, the issue immediately at hand is as much psychological as geopolitical. After all, if the course of the war in Ukraine has made one thing abundantly clear, it’s that Russia’s heavily armed but strikingly inept armed forces pose no more than a negligible conventional threat to the rest of Europe. Military effectiveness requires more than a capacity to reduce cities to rubble. So if Putin represents the latest reincarnation of Adolf Hitler, he’s a Hitler saddled with Benito Mussolini’s maladroit legions. Läs artikel