OPINION: The Ukraine crisis proves why its important to understand history


Photo courtesy of Katie Godowski.

*Columns are the opinions of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wichitan as an organization.*

In the late 1930’s, a nationalist tyrant with absolute control of a powerful, but recently humiliated, nation in Europe invaded and occupied a neighboring sovereign state. Next thing you know, this tyrant has begun the deadliest conflict in human history and the world agrees that such a thing can never be allowed to happen again. Less than 100 years later, in 2022, a nationalist tyrant with absolute control of a powerful, but recently humiliated, nation in Europe has invaded and occupied a neighboring sovereign state. So, how did we get here and how can we use history to predict what happens now?

Over the decades since the end of World War II, many politicians have been compared to Adolf Hitler often as a pretty extreme hyperbole. However, Russia’s Vladimir Putin has a pretty good case to be the war criminal’s second coming. Like Hitler, Putin grew up when his country was a great world power and he never lost that mentality even as that empire crumbled. Putin also has never accepted the sovereignty of many of the post-Soviet states. In fact, the summer before his invasion of Ukraine he claimed the country, that has a separate history and identity stretching back a thousand years, has always been Russian and has no history as a separate entity. He also made baseless claims that Ukraine carried out a genocide against the ethnic Russians in the country and they needed to be liberated; Hitler made these exact claims about the German population in Czechoslovakia before invading.

The strategy of appeasing Hitler did nothing to deter him from further invasion, and appeasement would do nothing to stop Putin. Instead, Putin must continue to be shown by the international community that his invasion of a sovereign state was a mistake and any further misdeeds will be punished. These sanctions put on the by the west are a great start by crippling the Russian economy, and that’s why we as everyday Americans need to understand that these extremely high prices we’re facing are worth it to stand up to injustice.

As scary as it is to think of, if Putin does make things even worse by assaulting a NATO country the US must be quick and swift in responding. Think about how many less lives could  have been lost if the USA had intervened in the two world wars sooner. If we truly want to be the shining beacon of democracy and hope we claim to be, we need to learn from history and stand up to Putin’s aggression sooner rather than later.