The Battle for Ukraine: We’ve seen this before.
Mark Twain wrote, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”
One of the mostly forgotten sagas of World War II was that in November of 1939 (a month after Germany conquered Poland), the Russian army— then the USSR — invaded Finland.
Finland was a much smaller country, and the world believed that the Russians would soon overwhelm the Finns and swallow Finland into the Soviet empire.
But outgunned and outmanned, the Finish army put up stiff resistance, and the initial attack by the Soviets ground to a halt. Winter came. With temperatures as low as 30 below Fahrenheit, the Finns held out against the Russian tanks, artillery, and fighter aircraft. The League of Nations called the invasion illegal and voted to suspend the USSR. Finally, the war ended in a stalemate, and a treaty was signed in March of 1940, where Finland ceded a small portion of territory. But the fact that the Russians “underperformed” led Hitler to the decision to invade the Soviet Union the following June.
A Russian Army is again invading a sovereign nation. And that sovereign nation is again putting up fierce resistance. What is astonishing is that it is like watching World War II play out again, except with more lethal weapons.
Yet this is 2022.
By now, most of us realize that this is an existential conflict. If Russian occupies Ukraine, it will reshape Europe and have significant consequences for all the western democracies.
It is easy to get lost in global issues or find ourselves not caring about them. After all, not a day goes by without a new crisis. Our chosen media inundates us with disruptive news: COVID, threats to democracies, and now in the United States, the possible overturning of Roe v Wade.
In times like this, times of trauma, a natural human reaction is just to go garden, as a friend jokingly told me. There is that sense that nothing an individual can do to affect the outcomes.
But there is. And it starts by thinking small.
In Ukraine, the war is being fought by a combination of a regular army and also volunteers, just like you and me. They are professionals, doctors, architects, and the IT guys downstairs. The volunteers were given a few days of training and then sent off to the front wearing baseball hats, jackets, and jeans, carrying AK-47s.
Nato and the US are supplying the big weapons of war, but the individual soldiers have needs that are not being met. For example, trauma packs.
When US troops go into battle, they are trained in primary wound care. They carry individual aid kits that include airways, trauma bandages, IV starter kits, and tourniquets. Unfortunately, most Ukrainian volunteers don’t have the equipment and don’t have the training.
Here is a story about how little things can help. My colleague (and hero) Bill Daniels, who lives in France, has been making regular supply runs to Lviv and the Ukraine border. (you can read more about Bill’s journeys at fightbackforukraine.com) In his supplies are medical kits.
Writing about his last Trip (May 4), he heard the story of a volunteer who had tripped a booby trap and lost both his legs. What undoubtedly saved his life was someone had tourniquets and used them. He was later transferred to a hospital.
Small things (a $10 tourniquet) save lives.
Again, I know how overwhelmed we all are right now. I have never experienced a time like this.
And I have a story that keeps me focused on helping. Most of you know this story, but it is as vital now as it has ever been. (it’s from Loren Eiseley)
An older man was accompanying his son on a walk along the beach. They noted that thousands of starfish had been tossed up on the beach by a recent storm. The old man picked up one starfish and threw it back into the ocean as they walked.
The young man asked, “What’s the point of doing that? There are thousands of starfish on the beach that will die.”
And the old man replied, “But not that one.”
We can all help in small ways, whatever your cause. We can all save that one starfish.
We, of course, would love your help to continue our work to get supplies to the Volunteer Brigades in Ukraine. Every bit helps! For more information, visit our website. Again, that’s fightbackforukraine.com
Thank you for reading this and Slava Ukraine!