100 years ago, Mussolini marched on Rome. Today, the march of authoritarianism continues with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

peter blume artistAbove: “Eternal City,” oil on composition board by Peter Blume, American, 1934-37.

A century ago, in 1922, Mussolini and his Blackshirt thugs “marched” on Rome and seized power from the still young Italian monarchy in a coup d’état.

By the mid-1930s, Mussolini had launched the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, resulting in the Blackshirts’ occupation of the country and expanding Italy’s already substantial colonial presence in the Horn of Africa.

By that time Hitler had risen to power in Germany and he was watching carefully. In 1938, German forces would cross into Austria, a country he considered to be part of a greater German state.

Later that year, Hitler would annex regions of Czechoslovakia populated by ethnic Germans, a part of his overarching plan to expand the German state.

The following year, Hitler invaded Poland and World War II had begun.

When you look at the myriad lists of “events preceding World War II,” it’s nearly impossible not to draw parallels to what is happening in Eastern Europe today.

And with major U.S. media figures like Tucker Carlson defending Putin’s moves, saying that the Russian dictator “just wants to keep his western border secure,” it’s nearly impossible not to consider that the West may be on the brink of World War III. His recent comments (see the link) seem to reflect a growing movement in favor of appeasement in the U.S. and beyond. Students of 20th-century history know what followed the concession policies of the allied countries in the years that led up to the second world conflict.

What’s undeniable is that the biggest military operation since World War II has begun in Europe. An authoritarian leader, with manifest imperialist designs, has launched the invasion of his country’s sovereign neighbor. Sound familiar?

When our children were born at the beginning of the last decade, the last thing Tracie and I would have imagined was that there would be war in Europe in their lifetime. Today, our girls — ages eight and 10 — know the names of the faraway states where nearly all of their paternal great-grandparents were born. But they can hardly wrap their minds around the fact that the Western world order is in a moment of violent upheaval. I wish their innocence were enviable.

G-d bless our sisters and brothers in Ukraine. G-d bless us all.

One thought on “100 years ago, Mussolini marched on Rome. Today, the march of authoritarianism continues with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

  1. Jeremy,
    From one wine guy to another, thank you for speaking out – in the past, about racism, today about the real danger of war in Europe.

    It is especially frightening that we in the US seem to have learned little if anything in the past 75 years. We still fail to grasp the horror of living in a war zone; white Americans still fail to grasp the depth of our racism, misogyny and xenophobia; we still fail to grasp the depth of destruction we have wreaked on our planet.

    Here’s hoping Putin backs down, and that Republicans choose democracy,
    Mitchell

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