History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.
* * *
Napoleon Bonaparte was a megalomaniac. Vladimir Putin is a megalomaniac. Napoleon was 5’6″ tall. Vladimir Putin is 5’6″ (but thinks he’s 5’7″). Napoleon met his Waterloo. Putin will meet his too, like every other invader who craved lands to control, resources to expropriate, and peoples to rule.
King David, Cyrus the Great, Alexander the Great, Constantine, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, Francisco Pizarro, Theodore “Manifest Destiny” Roosevelt, Hitler, George W. Bush.
All sacrificed multitudes to their vanity. In the end, all were repelled. All were humiliated.
Behold the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished! 2 Samuel 1.27
First comes chaos. Then comes cosmos. First comes destruction. Then comes creation.
After World War I the League of Nations was formed. It wasn’t great. But it was a step toward something new. After World War II the United Nations was established, the Marshall Plan was launched, Germany and Japan were rebuilt, and NATO was created.
After Ukraine, after the deluge, an opportunity for a new creation will open. Will we seize it?
The Cold War ended in 1989. The Soviet Union dissolved on December 31, 1991. The West had an opportunity to befriend Russia, boost its economy, and alleviate its angst over NATO. But the West did not. It snubbed Russia as it did Germany after World War I. (We know how that turned out.)
The West won the Cold War. But it didn’t disarm. Its arsenals grew. NATO crept closer to Russia. Putin panicked. (It’s hard to overcome 40 years of mutual paranoia.)
The arms race continued. Why? As TV producer Don Ohlmeyer once said, The answer to every question is MONEY. If peace broke out, who would lose money?
Putin is a small man with no stature. He’s made himself president for life. He’s glorified Stalin and Tsar Nicholas II. Really? Nicholas II?
Nicholas disputed with Japan over control of the Korean peninsula. Japan offered Manchuria in exchange for control of Korea. Nicholas insisted on neutrality. Japan refused. Russia invaded Japan in 1904.
The mighty Russian navy was routed, whipped and humiliated by a supposedly inferior opponent. Soon thereafter a revolution erupted in Russia. Nicholas and his family were executed on July 17, 1918. The 300-year-old Romanov dynasty ended.
Sow the wind; reap the whirlwind.
The bully’s picked a fight he will not win.
A billion sunflowers will bloom again.
See Paula’s photo (Always Face the Sun) on the home page. Posted March 2
Stumble downstairs to make coffee and let the hounds out and see that there is a new piece to read. “What? Sunday again?” Nope. Thank you for this encouraging reminder. Along with people from across the world I pray that Putin is gone sooner than later.
Thank you for this synopsis and perspective… history is a window to the past – teaching us if we choose to learn; and a prism thru which to view the future. Those grandmothers putting sunflower seeds into the pockets of Russian soldiers will sprout – one way or another. Praying for peace & sanity. This tyrant has unified & focused the world. God bless Ukraine & her determined people🙏🏼💓
Yeah, but the earlier bullies didn’t have nukes.
A comment about joining NATO. NATO didn’t rush to have nations adjacent to Russia join the alliance. As one who was at NATO during the 90’s we tried to discourage membership. We instead we set up a program called Partnership for Peace for those nations who wanted to join and we asked Russia to be a member. Which they did. As we moved into the late 90s many of the nations repeatly asked for full membership. European nations wanted other nations to join so that Russian troops would not be on their borders. We then established very high criteria for membership which took years to achieve. Not all Partnership for Peace nations chose to proceed with membership. Russia and the Ukraine decided not to apply. So we went a step further. We asked Russia to established a large delegation at NATO headquarters. Their representatives are allowed to attend any NATO meeting.
Having been senior member of the U.S. Delegation to NATO and a man of peace I can assure you preventing war is what we worked at everyday.
Thanks so much. Much as we try humans ain’t finally in control. Thank the Almighty for the courage of the people of Ukraine.
The declarative, “We won the Cold War,” still rankles me. Cold or hot, nobody wins wars. Everyone loses something that they wish later that they could’ve maintained. However, humans seem to prefer war. We’re too attracted to the whiz-bang, flash-bang of destruction. Dictators such as “Putie” are insecure, petulant, and, as you noted, megalomaniacal. The problem now is that these pathological narcissists are nuclear armed. As a 12-year old, I was certain that that I wouldn’t grow up while watching The Cuban Missile Crisis unfold. Now I, we, are living through a Cold War rerun. “When will they ever learn?” The answer keeps echoing in the well of time, “Never!” And I still doubt that I’ll have a chance to grow up.
Ash Wednesday, if nothing else, reminds us of our mortality. A Russian bully with nuclear weapons quickly reminds us of possibly moving closer to the precipice of our collective end. If, as Pope John Paul ll rightly asserts that “war is a defeat for humanity”, what would a victory look like? Perhaps a beginning step would be for more people and government leaders to face reality and become more aware of their own death and demise—in essence, their own “ashes” as well as the futility of war.
Thank you for a carefully composed, well-stated review of not only Russia’s history of believing its geographical size can bully its way to seize more and more, but also how the West bears some responsibility for what is happening now. Bullies strike hardest when their fear is the greatest.
May the fields of Ukranian sunflowers continue to bloom for generations to come.
Just read this. I’m way behind with emails. Thank you for the history and the perspective. Glad to see all the dates down for everything…you’ve done a lot of research or you just have a good mind for dates – I certainly don’t. I wonder when the U.S.A. will disarm. When will we start scaling down our arsenal of nuclear weapons? When will we start being an example for other nations?