Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton addressed the ongoing crisis in Ukraine at a fundraiser in California on Tuesday, making what two attendees described as a comparison between Russia’s decision to issue passports in the Crimean region to the “population transfers” carried out by Nazi Germany before World War II.
Clinton made the remarks at a $1,500-per-plate fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach at a law firm downtown, Keesal, Young & Logan.
The comments were Clinton’s first known about the still shifting situation in Ukraine, where an estimated 16,000 Russian troops have been mobilized in the Crimean region since Saturday. Clinton, since leaving the State Department, has been cautious about how and when to weigh in on national security developments.
“Mrs. Clinton talked at length on the situation in the Ukraine,” said one attendee, Harry Saltzgaver, the executive editor of a group of local newspapers in Long Beach.
Both Saltzgaver and a second fundraiser attendee, who requested to speak without attribution, described Clinton’s parallel between the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Adolf Hitler, who resettled tens of thousands of ethnic Germans in Eastern and Central Europe to Nazi Germany.
“She compared issuing Russian passports to Ukrainians with ties to Russia with early actions by Nazi Germany before Hitler began invading neighboring countries,” Saltzgaver said. “She said, however, that while that makes people nervous, there is no indication that Putin is as irrational as the instigator of World War II.”
Her behavior and statements of late, especially on foreign policy, have been characterized as cautious. In fact, they were characterized as such just hours ago by the very reporter who broke this. This seems…not so much, and invites obvious attacks on the former Secretary of State, who long bragged of “resetting” relations with Russia.
Josh Kraushaar calls this a “Hillary the Hawk” moment, and we were used to seeing that streak come out back when she was playing the hawkish foil to Obama’s dove, not the olive branch to his beak. But going Godwin’s Law so soon? There are plenty of ways to flex one’s foreign policy muscle without going there. As we all know from watching President Obama, there are plenty of ways to express outrage and deep concern without really meaning any of it, and therefore avoiding ticking off the dovish base of the Democratic Party. It wouldn’t take a Nazi comparison for Hillary to stay safely on the hawkish side of Obama. I gotta believe this kind of comment gives the Elizabeth Warren recruiters an itch.
Exit question:If they’re the Nazis, who does that make this grinning friend, so sure her super-keen agreement with the aggressive leader in question would solve everything? See? Too easy.