Hillary Clinton has done it again, just as her “Benghazi” remark sparked conflict, she has caused in uproar in the political realm by a comment she made about Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In reference to the current conflict in Ukraine, Clinton inadvertently referred to the moves of Putin resembling the actions of the Nazi dictator, Adolph Hitler leading up to World War II. Her mention was more a reference to history than a slam of Putin.
“Now if this sounds familiar, it’s what Hitler did back in the ’30s,” Clinton said, according to audio from the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “All the Germans that were — you know, the ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry — who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, you know, Hitler kept saying: ‘They’re not being treated right. I must go and protect my people.’ And that’s what’s gotten everybody so nervous.”
Apparently the former secretary of state’s controversial comparison caused quick strikes and rebukes from U.S.-Russia policy experts, even some who served under her husband, former president Bill Clinton, and in between all of the conflict, she received rare support from the unlikely supportive Republicans in Congress.
However, after the Hitler mention at a private fundraiser Tuesday, Clinton stood by her remarks on Wednesday saying she was merely mentioning the similarities between Putin’s claim that he was protecting Russian-speaking minorities in Crimea and Hitler’s advance into other countries such as Poland and Czechoslovakia to protect German minorities.
“I just want people to have a little historic perspective,” Clinton said during a question-and-answer session at UCLA. “I’m not making a comparison certainly, but I am recommending that we perhaps can learn from this tactic that has been used before.”
Clinton added that Putin’s goal is “to re-Sovietize Russia’s periphery” and said he is “a tough guy with a thin skin,” something she is entitled to comment on because of her personal dealings with him. She said further, of Putin:
Putin is a man “who believes his mission is to restore Russian greatness that includes reasserting control of what used to be countries under the former Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, she said.
“When he looks at Ukraine, he sees a place that he believes is by its very nature part of Mother Russia.”
“Hillary’s too smart to actually believe that Putin’s actions are remotely close to anything that Hitler did,” Bremmer said. “The only reason she would say that is that she believes she was vulnerable in having been the architect of the failed ‘reset’ and wants to show that she’s harder-line than anybody else.”
Kathryn Stoner, a Russia expert at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, said she considered Clinton’s comparison between Putin and Hitler’s tactics “a bit of a stretch,” in part because Putin “doesn’t look like he is intent on spreading across the Ukraine and permanently occupying this area.”
In a delicate situation “I don’t think it’s helpful on either side to say things like this, but in these crises it happens,” Stoner added.
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