Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is embroiled in a tiff with the Poles over World War II. Like U.S. interventionists, Putin takes the position that World War II constituted a great victory for the Soviet Union, the United States, and the Allied Powers. They defeated Nazi Germany, after all, saving Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe from Nazi tyranny.
What better evidence of victory than that?
Alas, however, the Poles take a different position, much to the chagrin of Putin and U.S. interventionists.
First of all, the Poles point out that the Soviet Union invaded Poland soon after Nazi Germany did and that this was done pursuant to a secret pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. (Interestingly, while Great Britain and France declared war on Germany purportedly to save Poland, they did not declare war on the Soviet Union.)
Second, soon after the Soviet invasion of Poland, Soviet forces rounded up thousands of Polish military officers, policemen, and others and shot them dead in cold blood in Poland’s Katyn Forest. It was a war crime of the first magnitude. Yet, no Soviet official was ever brought to trial for the murders. Perversely, the Soviet Union even served as one of the judges at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, where Nazi officials were placed on trial for war crimes.
Poland has never forgotten that mass murder, and many Poles remain angry over Russia’s failure to acknowledge and sufficiently repent the Katyn atrocities.
Third, what the Poles recognize — and what U.S. interventionists and Putin fail to recognize — is that being saved from Hitler and the Nazis only to be turned over to Stalin and the communists was no victory, at least insofar as the Poles were concerned.
Look at this way: Suppose you were given a choice between living under the Nazis or the Soviet communists. Which would you prefer? It’s not really a meaningful choice, is it? In principle, there was no difference between the Nazis, the Soviet communists, Hitler, and Stalin. They were equally cruel, murderous, and brutal.
At the end of World War II — after tens of millions of people had been killed — Poland has been saved from Nazi oppression, only to be subjected to subsequent decades of communist oppression. Thus, it’s not surprising that Putin would consider that a great victory. But why do U.S. interventionists consider it a victory for the United States, especially since soon after the war, the interventionists converted “our” ally, the Soviet communists, into “our” new official enemy, launching the Cold War, two hot wars in Korea and Vietnam, and ever-soaring military budgets?