I have to say, this article by Timothy Snyder is some high-quality disinformation: “Holocaust history misunderstood: It has provided moral cover for the wars in Iraq and Ukraine.”
It opens with the story of a German police captain who saved a Jewish family in Germany before mass-murdering Jews in Ukraine. The major gimmick is playing fast and loose with the meaning of “statelessness”:
Seeing the Holocaust as an encounter of general anti-Semitism and local statelessness helps us to make sense of the two great geopolitical disasters of our century: the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014. In part because Americans misunderstood the Holocaust as the oppression of a minority by an authoritarian state within its own boundaries, they could believe in 2003 that regime change by force of arms in Iraq would automatically bring positive consequences. By the early 21st century, we had convinced ourselves that the Holocaust was caused by an authoritarian regime acting against a minority within its own borders, which in the main it wasn’t, and that we acted to stop it, which with a few minor exceptions we didn’t. The Holocaust was the mass murder of Jews beyond the borders of prewar Germany, in a zone from which conventional political institutions had been removed, and the Holocaust was largely over by the time Americans soldiers landed on Normandy. American troops liberated none of the major killing sites of the Holocaust, and saw none of the thousands of death pits in the East.
The American trials at concentration camps reattributed prewar citizenship to the Jewish victims, helping us overlook that the eliminations of citizenship—usually by the destruction of states of which Jews had been citizens—were what permitted mass murder. A large body of scholarship on ethnic cleansing and genocide concludes that mass killing generally takes place during civil wars or regime changes. Nazi Germany deliberately destroyed states and then steered the consequences toward Jews. Destroying states without such malign intentions creates the space for the kind of disaster that continues to unfold in the Middle East: in its civil wars, religious totalitarianism, and refugee crisis.
He establishes some credibility with the reader by telling a compelling story and possibly enlarging their understanding of the Holocaust. There’s a lot of bullshit he’s also trying to slip through.
He’s using the word “statelessness” to mean both the absence of government in a geographic area and the absence of legal citizenship in a human. It’s absolutely true that revoking the citizenship of Jewish people removed legal protections for them. It’s absolutely absurd to describe the Nazi occupation as a condition of stateless anarchy. What was scary about the Nazis was most definitely not the absence of government.
He actually says that American foreign policy in the Middle East is well-intentioned, and later reminds us how important it is for the EU not to break apart. That would be consistent with his membership in the Council on Foreign Relations.
This is all a pretty obfuscated threat to the reader that they should remember that the government is the only thing protecting them from a black hole of chaos and death, in case they were getting any ideas about really needing a new regime altogether in the United States. And it’s true. The government has invested a lot in keeping the public full of racist hatred. The idea that we’d be better off with different leaders and different laws is just so obviously true that we need reminders of who’s boss.
Snyder really ought to be ashamed of himself as a historian for using a phrase like “the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014” and calling it one of the “two great geopolitical disasters of the century.” An event that didn’t actually take place. The mind reels:
There are many differences between the American invasion of Iraq and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but also one clear similarity: In both cases, the Holocaust was used as moral cover. Russians quite rightly remember that the Red Army bore the brunt of the German attack in 1941 and did liberate the Nazi killing zones. But they prefer not to recall that the Soviet Union helped Nazi Germany begin the war in 1939, jointly destroying four East European states and bringing the European order to an end. When Germany betrayed its Soviet ally and attacked the USSR in 1941, spreading anarchy, Soviet citizens joined the Germans as collaborators, tens of thousands of them taking direct part in the shooting.
Unnervingly, Russia justified its March 2014 attack on Ukraine by claiming that its neighbor wasn’t a real state, its president invoking the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact of 1939 as normal diplomacy. Since Russia chose to send its troops to Ukraine, claiming absurdly that it meant to combat fascists and save Jews, its war has killed at least 8,000 people and almost certainly far more, driven 2 million people from their homes, and called into question the European legal order. The deliberate creation of a lawless zone in the Donbas has predictably led to kidnappings, executions of prisoners, and other abuses of human rights.
The last time a European country invaded another and annexed its territory was the Second World War. European integration was meant to strengthen European states, and thus prevent the political collapse of the 1930s from happening again. The collapse of the European project could mean a return to the bad old days of old-fashioned power politics.
There are many differences between the American Revolution and the Crusades, but also one clear similarity: In both cases, they involved boats.
Timothy Snyder is less “unnerved” about what George Friedman (head of Stratfor) called “the most blatant coup in history,” in which the United States overthrew the Ukrainian government. It’s remarkable that people were able to gain Ukrainian citizenship and ascend to high government posts, all in one day!
US-born Natalie Jaresko became finance minister, Lithuania’s Aivaras Abromavicius economy minister and Aleksandre Kvitashvili – from Georgia – health minister. Hours before the vote in the parliament that installed them, all three were granted Ukrainian citizenship by President Petro Poroshenko.
The move is part of a fresh anti-corruption drive in Kiev. Politicians and other officials supportive of the idea say outsiders in the cabinet will have fewer vested interests, or links to local lobbyists. President Poroshenko also said Ukraine should make use of “the best international experience”.
But his opponents argue that Ukrainians should run their own country. Nationality is politically sensitive, as pro-Russian rebels in the east refuse to recognise the Kiev leadership.
Anyone can read about the Odessa massacre or the Azov Battalion. Y’know…Nazis. According to the Jerusalem Post, Holocaust memorial sites have been getting vandalized since our team took over in Ukraine:
Ukrainian Jewish leaders on Tuesday demanded that their government protect Holocaust sites throughout the country, during a pre-Yom Kippur ceremony memorializing the more than 33,000 Jews killed at Kiev’s Babi Yar ravine.
Babi Yar has been vandalized six times since the beginning of the year, most recently on September 16, when unidentified persons piled tires around a memorial menorah and lit them on fire.
While the number of violent anti-Semitic incidents was low in Ukraine in 2013 compared to Western Europe, anti-Semitic vandalism spiked in the Eastern European nation last year, according to the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress.
Popular targets for vandals were Holocaust memorials such as Babi Yar. Synagogues in Zaporizhya, Simferopol, Mykolaiv, Kiev and Hust were targeted in attempted arson attacks.
Meanwhile, the US, Canada, and the Ukraine voted against a UN resolution condemning Nazism, while pressuring Europe (including Germany!) to abstain:
Ukraine voted no and said it was because the resolution did not also renounce “Stalinism.” If Ukraine is so concerned about “Stalinism” then why not submit a U.N. resolution to denounce it? Instead, Ukraine appears to be appeasing and emboldening it’s fascists groups [sic] by voting against the resolution.
Canada also had a poor excuse to vote against the resolution by saying it has a “narrow focus.” Certainly Canada should condemn Nazism even if they consider the focus narrow.
According to the minutes from the UN General Assembly the US representative said, the U.S. “was concerned about the overt political motives that had driven the main sponsor (Russia) of the current resolution.”
Political motives by Russia? Hardly. The fascist/neo-Nazi movement is a real and tragic fact in Ukraine. Paramilitary groups such as the neo-Nazi Right Sector, Azov Battalion, White Hammer, Patriot of Ukraine and many others have been waging atrocious crimes against humanity in eastern Ukraine. Rapes, kidnappings, abductions, torture, murders, indiscriminate shelling of civilian neighborhoods, mass graves, and even beheadings, have been reported being waged by Kiev’s “volunteer” national guard military forces. Newsweek reported in September that Amnesty International claimed: “Groups of right-wing Ukrainian nationalists are committing war crimes in the rebel-held territories of Eastern Ukraine.” Furthermore, the far-right fascist Svoboda Party is holding several important ministry positions in the current Kiev government.
President Vladimir Putin said in a recent interview with the German channel ARD: “Frankly speaking, we are very concerned about any possible ethnic cleansings and Ukraine ending up as a neo-Nazi state. What are we supposed to think if people are bearing swastikas on their sleeves? Or what about the SS emblems that we see on the helmets of some military units now fighting in eastern Ukraine? If it is a civilized state, where are the authorities looking? ”
As the Guardian put it a few weeks ago: “What may emerge in Ukrainian politics is a frightening situation, where the main alternative to a right-wing nationalist government – is an ultra-right, ultra–nationalist opposition.”
We’re talking about the country where we literally gave the Vice President’s son a gas company and he fucked it up with too much hookers and blow. The AP explains the current state of “Russia’s war of aggression” in fascinating detail:
In this town deep in eastern Ukraine’s rebel heartland, about a quarter of the population works in the coal mines owned by billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man. Here and elsewhere in territory controlled by the separatist insurgency, the tycoon keeps the lights on and people clothed and fed, with a mixture of jobs, electricity and aid.
At the same time, Akhmetov operates factories on the other side of the frontline, powering Ukraine’s economy and pouring hundreds of millions in taxes into government coffers. His steel products, which are finished in rebel territory, are then shipped to the West — where they bring in billions in revenue for Akhmetov that then indirectly props up the separatist government.
The billionaire is able to straddle the frontline by using his fortune and business empire as leverage. His companies provide more than 300,000 jobs across Ukraine, most in the rebel-held east. Meanwhile, his control over utilities that provide electricity and heating to both sides allow him to dictate terms to the government as well as the rebels. Cracking down on Akhmetov’s factories in government territory would threaten Ukraine’s depressed economy, while a collapse of utilities in the east would undermine the rebels’ grip on power.
It makes for a striking picture of economic cooperation between enemy areas: Coal produced in Krasnodon mines, on rebel territory, travels to the Avdiivka coking plant on the government side. Coke is then shipped back to rebel lands, to a metals smelter in Yenakieve, and the metals produced there are transported to government territory on the Azov Sea — for shipping to the West.
Meanwhile, Western purchases, which account for the most of Akhmetov’s profits, are helping to keep the rebel territory afloat by fueling economic activity. Akhmetov’s Metinvest metals and mining holding posted revenues of $1.8 billion in the first quarter of the year, a 6 percent increase over the previous year, with Europe accounting for 35 percent of sales and North America for 3 percent. Steel works in rebel-controlled Yenakiyeve accounted for a quarter of the company’s steel output in the first quarter.
Timothy Snyder is too smart to be THAT innocently wrong about Ukraine. Again, he’s from the Council on Foreign Relations:
Snyder’s use of the Holocaust here is grotesque. Taken on its own terms, the article is supposed to seem like a thoughtful meditation on the Holocaust and a warning against our policy of destroying states and leaving chaos on their wake. That’s only there to gain the reader’s trust before the Big Lie.
They use Martin Luther King to justify racism all the time, too.
It’s all a giant bluff. A respected Holocaust expert at Yale would never write an article to help justify a neo-Nazi revival in the Ukraine…right?