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Eight Decades on: Lessons From Perhaps the Most Evil Diplomatic Triumph in History

August 21, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

In mid-1939 German Chancellor Adolf Hitler had a problem. He
wanted to go to war with the Soviet Union in order to grab precious
Lebensraum, or living space — and eradicate the
Bolshevik menace. The Western powers, however, namely Great Britain
and France, refused to make a deal with him.

Instead, they guaranteed the security of Poland, the next
obvious Nazi target and pathway to the USSR. He wanted to avoid a
two-front war, which ended badly for the Germans in World War I. So
the Austrian corporal turned German Führer sought a deus ex
machina
. He found it on August 23, 1939, when the Treaty of
Non-Aggression Between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics, also known as the Hitler-Stalin Pact and
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the names of the respective dictators and
foreign ministers who negotiated the agreement’s terms, was
signed.

While diplomacy almost always is preferable to war, the two
sometime coincide. Plenty of plundering marauders have made common
cause. But it is hard to think of an example of greater depravity:
two of the worst mass murderers in history dividing the world
between them.

World War I left both Germany and Russia isolated pariah states.
Germany’s new Weimar republic had expected gentler treatment
by the allies, having surrendered under Woodrow Wilson’s
“14 Points” and then defenestrated the Kaiser and the
entire imperial system. But the Versailles Treaty placed full blame
on Berlin, amputated historic Germanic lands, transferred
indisputably German populations to other nations, imposed the cost
of the war on the German people, and kept the democratic German
government out of the League of Nations, which was designed to
guarantee British and French dominance of the new international
order. Ravaged by political conflict and civil strife at home,
Berlin schemed to overturn the artificial territorial divide, which
it never accepted.

We should never forget
the moment when two of history’s worst dictators came together to
do evil, leaving immeasurable death and carnage in their
wake.

The newly created Soviet Union, successor state to the Russian
Empire, was even more isolated. Forced by Germany, which triumphed
on the Eastern Front, to accept the draconian Treaty of
Brest-Litovsk in 1918 — the only way for the Bolsheviks to
preserve their tenuous control as civil war loomed — the
Communists spent the next several years battling
counter-revolutionaries while seeking to reassemble the old empire.
The Americans, British, French, and Japanese intervened militarily
against the new regime, first hoping to keep Russia in the war and
next seeking to strangle the Soviet state in its infancy. The USSR
survived, but turned inward as Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s
successors battled for control and the triumphant Joseph …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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