Hearing about the constant tensions and the military actions in Ukraine, it would be very tempting for me to jump to the conclusion that the situation there is very similar to that of the American colonies prior to the Revolutionary War.
There is a larger power seemingly bullying a smaller one; a relationship in which the two countries had and have been related, not necessarily by a peaceful colonization (as in America), but rather a long legacy of centuries of conquest, by more than one empire; and a strong, autocratic leader like King George in my day, who has to have his way, no matter what the cost.
Moreover, Ukraine, because of its location, and its particular resources, can be considered to be of major strategic importance to the aggressor.
But yet, I also realize that the situation is very different, and very complicated, besides.
1) There has been one major difference: unlike America, and its tradition of government, thanks to our British roots, Ukraine has not known a very long period of free, enlightened rule as we have. Most recently, they have only been independent since 1991. Before then, the empires that have kept Ukraine in their iron grip did not allow for comparatively liberal policies such as representative government, or a court system, so that the people there did not have a history of so-called “good government” to look back upon, and therefore, a model of democracy to return to, as our own colonies had (with the possible exception of the Cossack tradition in Ukraine, which featured a “democratic” or elective form of leadership, I’m told).
2) An acquaintance of mine, whose family emigrated from that area of the world, informs me that the recent history of Ukraine (that is, the last 150 years, and longer) was one of bloody strife, eternal oppression, and intense hatred. So much so, in fact, that older Ukrainian descendants in the U.S. carry with them a familial distrust and dislike of Russians, to this day.
3) Due to Russia’s “superpower” status (although not as “super” perhaps as in its former days as the Soviet Union), and its stockpile of weaponry (this new invention you call “nuclear warfare”), there may still be the risk of world annihilation, which would make it a very delicate matter indeed for the U.S. or any other country to even imagine challenging the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, for fear of starting some kind of deadly “Armageddon.” Give that possibility, I myself might think twice about helping Ukraine fight for independence from Russia.
4) And yet, the United States, as a result of its own recent history, notably the unsuccessful isolationism after World War I, still finds itself pulled between the extremes of not wanting to get involved in other countries’ problems, and its tendency to see ourselves as some sort of a “world savior,” helping others fight for independence from oppression, as we ourselves had been helped during our own Revolutionary War.
It’s times like these that lead me to realize that I, as a simple man of the 1700s, am ill-equipped to counsel or advise on the proper political course to take in this matter.
About all I can say is that there are some basic fundamentals to keep in mind — to do good for one’s fellow human beings is foremost in importance in my thinking. And secondly, doing for others as you would like them to do for you is still a very wise path to take, no matter what century this is.
Your humble servant,