bureaucracybusters

VLADIMIR PUTIN: UNLEARNING THE LESSONS OF HISTORY

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 10, 2022 at 12:10 am

Vladimir Putin believes himself to be a serious student of history. If so, he has drawn the wrong lessons from the past.

During the American Revolution (1775-1783) and the War of 1812 (1812-1815) Great Britain encouraged Indian attacks on American settlers.

One of the worst of these attacks occurred on August 30, 1813, when over 700 Creek Indians destroyed Fort Mims, near Mobile, Alabama. About 500 militiamen, settlers, slaves and Creeks loyal to the Americans were slaughtered or captured.

Massacre at Fort Mims.jpg

Fort Mims massacre

Inflaming the Indians against settlers didn’t help the British on the battlefield—in the American Revolution or the War of 1812. But it did incite long-lasting hatred by the vast majority of Americans against the British—and even greater hatred of the Indians. 

To cite one example: The Fort Mims massacre inspired General Andrew Jackson to take the field, eventually destroying the Creeks as a nation and wresting Florida from Spain for the United States.

The British lost their American colony. And the Indians were gradually driven from their dominance of the continent. 

Similarly, Vladimir Putin has turned to Chechen mercenaries for help in conquering Ukraine. They are known as “Kadyrovtsy” or “Kadyrovites” after their leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s pro-Kremlin strongman.

Human rights groups, witnesses and survivors have for decades accused them of murders, kidnappings and the torture of Kadyrov’s rivals and critics.

Just as the Indians hoped to use their alliance with the British to defeat their Anglo-American enemies, so, too, do Chechen mercenaries hope to ingratiate themselves with the Kremlin.

Vladimir Putin 17-11-2021 (cropped).jpg

Vladimir Putin 

Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

Yet that alliance has not advanced Russia’s fortunes on the battlefield, just as the British-Indian alliance did not gain victory for the British.

As Niccolo Machiavelli, writing more than 500 years ago in The Prince, warned: “[Mercenaries] have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to man, and destruction is deferred only as the attack is. For in peace one is robbed by them, and in war by the enemy.”

Moreover, the atrocities committed by Indians and Chechens only inflamed their enemies to seek revenge.  

In his masterwork, The Discourses, Machiavelli offered a lesson on the power of mercy even in the midst of war. 

“Marcus Furius Camillus, a Roman general, was besieging the city of the Faliscians, and had surrounded it. A teacher charged with the education of the children of some of the noblest families of that city decided to ingratiate himself with Camillus by leading those children into the Roman camp. 

“Presenting them to Camillus the teacher said to him, ‘By means of these children as hostages, you will be able to compel the city to surrender.’

“Camillus not only declined the offer but had the teacher stripped and his hands tied behind his back. Then he had a rod put into the hands of each of the children and directed them to whip the teacher all the way back to the city. 

“Upon learning this, the citizens of Faliscia were so much touched by the humanity and integrity of Camillus, that they surrendered the place to him without any further defense.”

Summing up the meaning of this, Machiavelli writes: “This example shows that an act of humanity and benevolence will at all times have more influence over the minds of men than violence and ferocity.  It also proves that provinces and cities which no armies…could conquer, have yielded to an act of humanity, benevolence, chastity or generosity.

“…History also shows us how much the people desire to find such virtues in great men, and how much they are extolled by historians and biographers of princes….Amongst these, Xenophon takes great pains to show how many victories, how much honor and fame, Cyrus gained by his humanity and affability, and by his not having exhibited a single instance of pride, cruelty or luxuriousness, nor of any of the other vices that are apt to stain the lives of men.”

Quote by Machiavelli: “Necessity is what impels men to take action ...

Niccolo Machiavelli

Then there has been Putin’s use of terror-attacks on Ukrainian cities.

Using bombers and long-range artillery, Putin has tried to compensate for losses on the battlefield by terrorizing Ukrainians into surrender. 

Adolf Hitler applied the same tactic against an equally stubborn Great Britain during the Second World War. in 1940-41.

Unable to invade England because the British Navy controlled the sea, Hitler turned to terror-bombing. 

He believed he could terrorize Britons into demanding that their government yield to German surrender demands.

From September 7, 1940 to May 21, 1941, the Luftwaffe subjected England—and especially London—to a ruthless bombing campaign that became known as The Blitz.

The undamaged St. Paul’s Cathredal, December, 1940

During 267 days—almost 37 weeks—between 40,000 and 43,000 British civilians were killed. About 139,000 others were wounded.

But the terror-bombing only inflamed Britons to fight Germany even more stubbornly.

Vladimir Putin has learned nothing from these historical lessons.

He has employed mercenaries and terror-bombing against patriotic Ukrainians—who continue to sweep Russian forces from their country.

If he employs even “small” tactical weapons, he risks triggering a fullscale NATO response—thus destroying the Russian empire he hopes to re-create.

Finally: Even if he conquers Ukraine, he will inherit a hate-filled population thirsting for revenge at every opportunity. 

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