Washington Times on June 17, 2015, published an article by Professor Victor Davis Hanson on how aggressor nations are once again expanding their sovereignty. After describing how Nazi Germany and Japan expanded before World War II Hanson compares it two the rise of Russia, China and the IS state in the Middle East. Excerpts below:
These hegemonies had arisen without triggering a global war. Had Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese just been satisfied and consolidated their winnings, there was no evidence that the tired Western democracies would ever have stopped them.
The contemporary world is starting to resemble the 1930s, and maps again must be redrawn.
The Islamic State plans to take Baghdad to make it the capital of a radical Sunni caliphate from what is left of Syria and Iraq.
Its enemy, theocratic Iran, is forging its own Shiite empire. Through its proxies, Iran now effectively runs much of Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.
Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks he can reconstitute the empire of the czars and the later Soviet Union. American “reset” diplomacy green-lighted his annexation of the Crimea and his occupation of areas of Ukraine. Should Mr. Putin wish to absorb Estonia or other Baltic States, NATO probably would not stop him.
A terrified Eastern Europe, which not that long ago was part of the old Soviet Warsaw Pact, is already making the necessary political concessions in hopes that the unpredictable Mr. Putin leaves them alone.
China is vastly increasing its strategic air force and navy — and reminding its neighbors from South Korea to Australia of its new military clout. It has recently instigated various territorial disputes with Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. As a clever way to control key sea lanes and oil-rich areas in the South China Sea, the Chinese are building new military bases by turning small coral reefs into islands of sand.
Well before World War II, Great Britain and France allowed Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese to acquire what they pleased. The Western European democracies were terrified of confrontation and mired in economic crises.
As in the 1930s, an isolationist United States is again watching the new map unfold from the sidelines. President Obama assumes Americans are tired of the Middle East and want to be left alone. Afghanistan is a quagmire. Iraq collapsed once the administration pulled out all U.S. troops.
In 1945, after some 60 million had perished in World War II, the Western democracies blamed themselves for having appeased and empowered fascist empires. That sadder but wiser generation taught us two lessons: Small sacrifices now can avoid catastrophic ones later on, and dictatorial regimes on a roll never voluntarily quit playing geostrategic poker.
If the present trajectories continue, a reconfigured Middle East will be bookended by radical Islamic empires — the Islamic State caliphate and a new Persian empire. China will control most of the Pacific and adjudicate trade, commerce and politics west of Hawaii and to the south and east of India. The client states of a new Russian empire will border central Europe and be under constant pressure to leave the EU, NATO or both.
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.