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Friday, May 06, 2005

Liberation and Subjugation

"If Bush gets out of this, he'll be Houdini."
-- An unnamed administration official, via the NY Times.

Well, he managed to get re-selected after what was probably the most disastrous first term in office of any president since Lincoln, so he apparently has some magical powers. But he continues to push his luck. What the administration official quoted above is referring to is aWol's upcoming trip to Russia, Latvia and Georgia. In Moscow, he will celebrate the 60th anniversary of V-E day, the day when the Russians, assisted by US, British, French, Polish and other forces, defeated Nazi Germany. (I have great respect for my father and the many others who fought the Nazis on the western front from June 1944 through May 1945, but the scale of the fighting on the eastern front dwarfed anything that happened in the west. Some 20 million Russians died in WWII, compared to some 400,000 Americans.)

The problem with this celebration, of course, is that as the Soviet Union "liberated" eastern Europe from Nazi oppression, it immediately re-subjugated those war-torn countries under its own iron fist. Stalin was probably an even bigger bastard than Hitler, if not as aggressive internationally (the USSR held tightly and roughly on to its satellite nations, but didn't aggressively invade distant nations like Hitler and the Bushes did). And both Georgia and Latvia were very reluctant members of the USSR, to say the least: the Soviets occupied Georgia in 1921; Latvia, independent since 1918, was annexed by the Soviet Union in accordance to the Soviet-Nazi agreement (Ribbentrop-Molotov pact) of 1939, when Hitler and Stalin were allies. So celebrating Russia's victory in the "Great Patriotic War" isn't something most Georgians or Latvians are excited about. Since both countries are part of Rummy's "New Europe," aWol doesn't want to offend them by just attending the Red Square celebration, so he's stopping in for his big-bubble visits to both countries. This, of course, may offend Putin and the Russians, who are tired of American encroachments on their territory.

All in all, aWol would probably be better to stay home--this would be a difficult trick for even a good president to pull off.