So, suppose Putin, reprising his Ukrainian success, orchestrates unrest among the Russian-speaking minorities in Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia. Then, recycling Hitler’s words that his country “could not remain inactive,” Putin invades one of these NATO members. Either NATO invokes Article 5 — an attack on any member is an attack on all — or NATO disappears and the Soviet Union, NATO’s original raison d’etre, is avenged.
Although no one more thoroughly detested the regime that Gen. Erwin Rommel served, Winston Churchill acknowledged in January 1942 in the House of Commons the talent of Britain’s enemy: “We have a very daring and skillful opponent against us and, may I say across the havoc of war, a great general.” Putin is, the West should similarly acknowledge, more talented and dangerous than either Nikita Khrushchev or Leonid Brezhnev. Their truculence was not fueled by fury. Putin’s essence is anger. It is a smoldering amalgam of resentment (of Russia’s diminishment because of the Soviet Union’s collapse), revanchist ambitions (regarding formerly Soviet territories and spheres of influence), cultural loathing (for the pluralism of open societies) and ethnic chauvinism that presages “ethnic cleansing” of non-Russians from portions of Putin’s expanding Russia.
This is more than merely the fascist mind; its ethnic-cum-racial component makes it Hitlerian.