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Who's afraid of the big bad Russian bear?

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Who’s afraid of the big bad Russian bear? Apparently not little Hungary, which sits on Russia’s western border. They had their invasion by Soviet Russia when, in 1956, the entire Hungarian nation (already under Soviet control and occupation) suddenly rose up and, for 10 glorious days, turned Communism’s Iron Curtain into a venetian blind. Thirty-five thousand Hungarians lost their lives in the Freedom Fight, as 200,000 Soviet troops and 2,000 tanks overran Hungary, with its population of only 10 million. The world was fixated on the courage of the Hungarian Freedom Fighters. Their weapons were small arms captured from the Russian occupiers. Their flag was the red, white and green Hungarian tricolor with the Communist red star torn, burned or razor-sliced out of the middle!


Big things are going on in Budapest, Hungary’s capital, this coming Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 22 and 23. The Hungarian government is marking the 60th anniversary of their Freedom Fight with a gala observation featuring dignitaries from all over the world. Now that Hungary is free (while the revolution of 1956 was brutally put down, Hungary finally achieved independence in 1991, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union) they’re not letting any warped notion of diplomacy mask what their gigantic neighbor did to enslave them 60 years ago.


We’re told that in Hollywood there’s a lot of back-scratching and back-stabbing in the effort to land the role of villain. But Russia can’t be too happy being cast in the role of mass-murdering villain by the survivors of the 1956 Hungarian Freedom Fight.


I asked a major Hungarian diplomat if they weren’t a little bit uneasy about treating their gigantic neighbor to some bitter historical truth? He laughed as he replied, “No. We don’t have to worry about them anymore.” Exactly what makes Hungary so sure? Didn’t Putin’s Russia tear off Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and paste it in Putin’s scrapbook alongside aggressions against Georgia (that’s Georgia over there, not the one over here)?


First of all, the post-Communist democracies of Eastern Europe aren’t nervous, huddled victims hoping Putin suddenly decides to play nice. When you add up Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria alongside Hungary, there’s little likelihood of an all-out assault against them.


Then, too, history teaches us that when Russia has been brutalized by hostile invaders bent upon rape and plunder there is no better fighter than the Russian soldier. However, when those same Russian soldiers were shoved by their leaders into aggressive action against their weaker neighbors they become very ineffective bullies.


In 1939 little Finland continued to repel Stalin’s Red Army to the point where the world hailed the Finns as modern “Davids” and the Russians as evil “Goliaths.” Russia had hundreds of millions of people and a land area the size of the moon. Finland was about the size of California, with a population half that of Chicago!


Hungary has no intention of raping and plundering Putin’s Russia!


Another font for Hungary’s fortitude is the inherent advantage of the defender. Military science academies tell us the defenders enjoy a three-to-one advantage over the attackers. And that’s easy to understand. The defenders wait in fixed positions for the attackers to appear. And the more the attackers advance, the longer their supply lines extend. During the Cold War, Sweden had the second-largest air force in Western Europe. And not one single aircraft was specifically an “attack” plane. Every Swedish plane was defensive, mainly fighter planes to repel enemy attackers. Sweden won many compliments for that position. Although Hungary obviously has no intention of attacking Russia, they do intend to defend their nation if Russia attacks.


How interesting it is that the self-defense urge in Europe coincides with America’s decision to abandon its traditional “Let’s defend Europe!” habit!


Until the very last ballot is counted, Donald Trump supporters bank on what they call “Passion” or “Enthusiasm.” Whether that pays off in non-violent domestic politics or not is an open question. It’s most definitely vital in warfare. Those defending their beloved homeland have a solid advantage over those invaders who don’t know why they’re invading their neighbors and wish they were home.


In fact, those military academies teach us that 25 highly motivated troops can hold a position better than 100 troops, of whom 75 are not motivated!


There are vastly fewer Estonians than Hungarians, but even this smallest of the Baltic nations intends to resist any Russian aggression.


Little countries with small populations aren’t necessarily helpless victims anymore. Just before World War I, Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm made a state visit to neighboring Switzerland. He was invited to observe Swiss Army maneuvers and war games, and he looked upon them with interest.


After the military exercises, the Kaiser congratulated the Swiss general on the quality of his army and remarked, “You have a highly competent army of half a million men. But what will you do if I attack you with a million men?”


Without an instant’s delay, the Swiss general replied, “In that case, each of us would have to shoot twice!


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