For those who contend that we study history to learn from our mistakes...it's not working.

Pompeo, Trump, others—protected by the Constitution and safe within American borders—continue to disparage Ukraine's struggle for democracy.

On February 20, 1939, The German-American Bund held a rally at Madison Square Garden. Close to 20,000 people heard FDR referred to as Frank D. Rosenfield and the New Deal referred to as the Jew Deal. The German-American Bund employed the term American in its name and displayed the Stars and Stripes at every rally; nevertheless, this bund (federation) was a pro-Nazi organization comprising strident apologists for Hitler.


At the same time, American exchange students were returning home with glowing reports of a well-managed German government, and a national hero, Charles Lindbergh, was traversing the country, denouncing the Jews for "leading us into war."

It was a time of blatant anti-Semitism but also one of open advocacy of Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich.

I point that out because anyone who is shocked or horrified by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's open admiration for Putin's "single-mindedness" or disgusted that Trump considers Putin a "genius" among world leaders is ignoring history—or never learned it. We cite England's Nevil Chamberlain as the historical paragon of treasonous stupidity at the onset of World War II, but we don't have to go back that far. Much more recently we witnessed Americans like Pompeo and Trump (and foreign leaders like Boris Johnson) coddle and placate autocrats and imperialists. They never counted the casualties because there weren't any. But the enabling has led to the present tragedy in Ukraine.


The isolationist "diplomacy" of the 1930s and the resultant wars and genocides precipitated over 80 million deaths. And that was before the threat of a nuclear holocaust.


Today's Vladimir Putin needs no encouragement from Pompeo or Trump (or Tucker Carlson or Josh Hawley), but their advocacy must certainly be heartening to the Russian leader. Few are more avid of praise and adulation than Putin; after all, he hates the West and its nominal leader, the United States. To have prominent American citizens (and self-proclaimed leaders) sympathizing with an anti-American, anti-democratic authority is everything he could hope for. (His labeling Ukrainians neo-Nazis raises cynicism to a new level, but it's unlikely he's reached the ceiling yet.)


He has certainly struck at the right moment when a cadre of seditious Republicans and their indifferent and ignorant followers have made a point of delegitimizing both the presidency and democracy itself. The term "Commie sympathizer" used to be a title of disgrace, but today Trump and Pompeo have accepted the mantel with pride, their anthems of praise to Putin protected by the very Constitution they sneer at.


It's important to note that World War II raged on for two years without America's formal entry. The current warfare between Russia and Ukraine may drag on for years, or there may be a quick surrender. That latter option would deal a crushing blow to Ukrainian democracy, but wars that drag on tend to expand, and we—and especially our European allies—may find distant rival Russia not quite so distant anymore.

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