“History doesn’t repeat itself, it just rhymes.” Mark Twain
As we all learned in school the event that started WWII was Germany’s invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. What was seldom mentioned is that a few weeks later Russia also invaded Poland. Russia said it had to come to the aid of its Ukrainian and Byelorussian countrymen at risk in lands illegally occupied by Poland; propaganda that is still used today.
Throughout the early 1950’s, various Eastern European countries were in political turmoil bordering on revolt against Russian hegemony in the region, Poland and Hungry chief amongst them. With Stalin’s death in 1953, Russia undertook a patriarchal posture toward its socialist allies in the region, leading to the formation of the Warsaw Pact in 1955.
However, the people in Hungry wanted more than patronizing good will from the Bear on their border. In the Hungarian Peoples Republic the situation became an outright insurrection against the Russian backed government, known as the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Russia repeatedly stated that it had no intention of invading Hungry, which of course is exactly what it did and within a few weeks the revolution was over, and a Russian backed government back in control.
Then we have Czechoslovakia in 1968 with the reformist movements known as the Prague Spring. Again, promising that it had no intentions of taking military actions to bring the wayward child back in the fold, Russia held military exercises for the Warsaw Pact nations, which of course became the invading force that ended the Prague Spring.
Then there was the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. This was off script, not part of the series as it was not a country that Russia had as part of the Soviet Empire with a puppet government in place. Its reason was to support a fellow socialist country during an insurrection, i.e. an ideological intervention; this should sound familiar to America, we’ve made that mistake plenty of times. After ten years of fighting in a tribal region with no one really ever representing a government to control, Russia left with thousands of its soldiers buried there; lessons learned, don’t go off script.
Another failure was with the Solidarity movement that started in 1980 in Poland. While not an outright invasion, Russia controlled and led the Polish government in a decades’ long repression which, thanks to the shrewd manipulations of both the Reagan administration and the Vatican, ultimately failed, and was one of the main factors in the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1991. Russia did not follow their own script again and that episode flopped badly.
So back on script we have the 1994 invasion of Chechnya and the 2008 invasion of Georgia, all with the same old propaganda, but these sequels played a little stale internationally by that point. The West believed it had won the Cold War and was preoccupied with the Near East with its own troublesome invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Today we have another sequel back on script to this movie series in Ukraine; with similar players from central casting in Moscow, we have the Putin episode. Here we had even more warning signs from 2014 in Crimea, the years’ long infiltrations of the Donbas, the massing of 150k Russian troops along the borders, yet still, as before, the West expresses surprise, dismay and outrage that Russia did what it has always done. You can change the name, the flag, the leadership and the times, but the Bear has not changed its nature.
In 1945 we have the UN, and in 1949 we have NATO; none of these organizations has had much success with the Bear, so why do we now hear the leaders of the West clamoring for ever more sanctions, which will not only do nothing to change Russian aggression, but economically hurts its own citizens at a time when they can least afford it? Do we really think that hitting the pocketbooks of the oligarchs will incite them against Putin? We need to understand that it was Putin who created the oligarchs, not the other way around.
US politicians express disgust with Russia’s wanton acts killing Ukrainian civilians, but where was their outrage with the US doing the same in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention our support and supply of weapons for the Saudi genocide in Yemen? These same virtue signaling leaders think that sending arms to Ukraine will change the outcome; sadly it will not and the military leaders in NATO know that. In fact, it provides Putin reasons to show the Russian people how much the West is their enemy, i.e. the friend of our enemy is our enemy. Those in Russia who think otherwise get the gulag, or worse.
We all should have a deep respect and admiration for the Ukrainian leaders and people who have resisted an overwhelming force so valiantly. However, we must understand that their future lies in the future as the present will have the inevitable but hopefully temporary outcome, unless of course Putin changes his mind and decides the price is too high; doubtful, but anything can happen.
In the meantime, the one thing that must not happen is for the NATO to go out of its own treaty and decide to escalate to a direct confrontation; that will lead to everyone losing because the Bear will go nuclear, and on that we can be sure. Ultimately, Putin will fail, but not due to anything that the West has done. It will come from the Russian people, the vast majority of whom are desperately poor thanks to the greed of the Putin regime and his oligarchs who have plundered their own nation. We must hope that having nothing to lose, they will seek to have everything to gain and rid themselves, not only of Putin, but an historical script of failed tyranny that needs to come to an end.