Why the Russians Can’t Win

Thomas Paine: American Philosopher, & Revolutionary

From 1776 through the formation of The Constitution I helped create America. Now I have returned to help save America. Please join my Facebook group American Patriots in a free and open discussion to further the cause of FREEDOM.

The American Revolution began on the 19th day of April 1775, when 77 militiamen assembled on the village green at Lexington, Massachusetts to repel some 700 British troops marching westward from Boston, aiming to secure all stores of weapons and capture Patriot leaders Sam Adams and John Hancock.  The skirmish that ensued left 8 Americans dead, 10 others wounded, and a retreat to nearby Concord had the British chasing them into a hornet’s nest.  About 2 hours after the shots ended at Lexington, the British regulars arrived at Concord amidst hundreds of armed Patriots.  They managed to destroy many military supplies but were soon routed by the minutemen and suffered heavy casualties.

Monument engraved in honor of the 76 Minute Men who stood behind Capt. John Parker on the 19th April 1775, Lexington, Massachusetts
Minute Man re-enactor at Concord, Massachusetts

“As the British retraced their 16-mile journey, their lines were constantly beset by Patriot marksmen firing at them from behind trees, rocks, and stone walls.  At Lexington, Captain Parker’s militia had its revenge, killing several British soldiers as the Red Coats hastily marched through his town.  By the time the British finally reached the safety of Boston, nearly 300 British soldiers had been killed, wounded, or were missing in action.  The Patriots suffered fewer than 100 casualties.”  [1] Although the Treaty of Paris wasn’t signed until September 3rd, 1783, officially ending the war, it was at the Yorktown peninsula, Virginia, on the 17th day of October 1781, where Lt. General Lord Charles Cornwallis surrendered his sword to General George Washington, that signaled the final battle.  It took six and a half years to expel the British and effect American independence

How The Ukraine War Resembles the American Revolution

Today we are witnessing a repeat of history, as the Russian military, under the direction of President Vladimir Putin, has invaded the Ukraine, vowing to reclaim the resource rich independent country that broke off from the former Soviet Union, dissolved in 1991.  There are parallels between these two conflicts and in the final analysis, unless Putin goes all-out bonkers leaving the Ukraine as a nuclear wasteland, I’m predicting resolution will be similar to our own 18th century war.

I will reprint a few excerpts from my own writings nearly 250 years ago that could essentially be used today as a rallying cry by Ukrainian Patriots.  You could simply replace the names “America” and England” by substituting “Ukraine” and “Russia”, respectfully, and you might think the paragraph was describing the current situation in Ukraine.

“THOSE who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.  The event of yesterday was one of those kind of alarms which is just sufficient to rouse us to duty, without being of consequence enough to depress our fortitude.  It is not a field of a few acres of ground, but a cause, that we are defending, and whether we defeat the enemy in one battle. Or by degrees, the consequences will be the same.”  [2]

Here Paine is saying that battles lost are not prelude to eventual conquest, but rather a call to action, intensifying the outrage of the warrior routed from the field, and strengthening his resolve.  The cause of freedom will not be so easily won, requiring sacrifice along the way, but freedom will prevail in the end.

“Men who are sincere in defending their freedom; will always feel concern at every circumstance which seems to make against them; it is the natural and honest consequence of all affectionate attachments, and the want of it is a vice.  But the dejection lasts only for a moment; they soon rise out of it with additional vigor; the glow of hope, courage, and fortitude, will in a little time, supply the place of every inferior passion, and kindle the whole heart into heroism.”  [3]

Though the soldier mourns the loss of every brother-in-arms, he will gain the determination to defeat a conquering force and drive them out of his country.

“The soldier, above all others, prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

  —  Gen. Douglas MacArthur

“I close this paper with a short address to General Howe.  You, sir, are only lingering out the period that shall bring with it your defeat.  You have yet scarce begun upon the war, and the further you enter, the faster will your troubles thicken.  What you now enjoy is only a respite from ruin; an invitation to destruction; something that will lead on to our deliverance at your expense.  We know the cause which we are engaged in, and though a passionate fondness for it may make us grieve at every injury which threatens it, yet, when the moment of concern is over, the determination to duty returns.”  [4]

Paine tells Howe directly that Britain’s folly in conquering the American people and submitting its’ citizenry to foreign tyranny is doomed.  The flame of freedom cannot be extinguished by mercenaries with no skin in the game.  The Patriot will always regroup from setback, and will never rest until the cause of defending his family and freeing his homeland is achieved.

“If there is a sin superior to every other, it is that of wilful and offensive war.  Most other sins are circumscribed within narrow limits, that is, the power of one man cannot give them a very general extension, and many kinds of sins have only a mental existence from which no affection arises; but he who is the author of a war, lets loose the whole contagion of Hell, that opens a vein and bleeds a nation to death.  We leave it to England and Indians to boast of these honors; we feel no thirst for such savage glory; a nobler flame, a purer spirit animates America.  She has taken up the sword of virtuous defence; she has bravely put herself between Tyranny and Freedom, between a curse and a blessing, determined to expel the one and protect the other.”  [5]

It is Putin who must accept the sin of war.  His invasion was unprovoked.  His objective is to regain territory he believes to be rightfully Russian, to restore the glory of the former Soviet Union.  I’m certain that many of his nationalist countrymen support him.  His methods have been brutal, a scorched earth policy, particularly in the eastern regions of Dunbas, encompassing Mariupol, Donetsk, and the northeast city of Kharkiv, showing no regard for human life, epitomizing a “contagion of Hell” from which civilians have had great difficulty escaping, trapped within the ruins of the cities they once called home.

During the American Revolution, British forces, based in Charleston, burned family homesteads and committed atrocities across the villages and swamplands of South Carolina in an effort to flush out Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion, the guerrilla fighter whose band of militia tormented Cornwallis all the way to Cowpens, where, on the 17th of January 1781, they were defeated by Marion and Continental Regulars under Lt. Col. Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, his former commanding officer in the French and Indian War.  It was the beginning of the end for Cornwallis.  The Patriot (2000 film) is a pretty accurate depiction of this southern theater of the war.  [6]  

“Go home, sir, and endeavor to save the remains of your ruined country, by a just representation of the madness of her measures.  A few moments, well applied, may yet preserve her from political destruction.  I am not one of those who wish to see Europe in a flame, because I am persuaded that such an event will not shorten the war.  The rupture, at present, is confined between the two powers of America and England.  England finds that she cannot conquer America, and America has no wish to conquer England.  You are fighting for what you can never obtain, and we defending what we never mean to part with.  A few words, therefore, settle the bargain.  Let England mind her own business and we will mind ours.  Govern yourselves and we will govern ourselves.”  [7] 

Putin would be wise to acknowledge the history of the American Revolution, to recognize that his ambition may be larger than the ability of his military superiority to subdue a determined army of dedicated defenders.  Paine would give him the same advice he delivered to Howe; leave us alone and return to your own country before you lose everything.  Let us hope that Putin’s ego doesn’t overrule his sensibilities before this war drags on for years, and the Ukrainian people can get on with their lives.

COMMENTS always welcome

FOOTNOTES

[1] American Revolution Begins at Battle of Lexington ; Hulton Archive, history.com

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-american-revolution-begins

[2] Paine, Thomas ; The Crisis IV: Those Who Expect to Reap the Blessings of Freedom ; Common Sense, September 12, 1777, the day after the Battle of Brandywine, Chester County, Pennsylvania ; Philadelphia

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid.

[5] Paine, Thomas ; The Crisis V: To General Sir William Howe ; Common Sense, March 21, 1778, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

[6] The Patriot, a 2000 epic historical war film of the American Revolution, directed by Roland Emmerich, starring Mel Gibson in the title role as Benjamin Martin (depicting Francis Marion), Chris Cooper as Brig. Gen. Harry Burwell (depicting Gen. Henry “Lighthorse Harry” Lee), Heath Ledger as Gabriel Martin, and Jason Isaacs a Col. William Tavington (depicting Col. Banastre Tarlton).

In the climactic battle at Cowpens, South Carolina, Martin (Gibson) suggests to Gen. Burwell (Cooper) they employ the tactic of a “feigned retreat” (first known to be used by William the Conqueror at Hastlngs in 1066), whereby his militia skirmishes with the British near the crest of a hill, fakes a retreat over the hill, enticing the British to charge in anticipation of routing the rebels, then as the British break over the hill, they’re confronted by a much larger force of Continental regulars lying in wait.  In classic Hollywood fashion, Gibson avenges the murder of his son, Gabriel (Ledger), by killing Tavington (Isaacs) himself.

The Patriot (2000 film) – Wikipedia

[7] Paine, Thomas ; The Crisis V: To General Sir William Howe ; Common Sense, March 21, 1778, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

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