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The Difference

Take a look at this new video from Russian Man on the Street interview channel 1420. The question is do you feel responsible for this, this meaning the war in Ukraine and the fallout:

It’s encouraging how many of them do feel responsible. Even the ones who say they don’t indicate that the choice to invade was made by others, people they didn’t vote for.

We have to consider the source here. These are younger people, they look like students, and they’re probably in a big cosmopolitan city like Saint Petersburg or Moscow. They probably have access to VPN, probably the free versions now since most of them can’t use the international banking system to pay for a subscription. So, the pool of respondents is limited to the people most likely to know what’s going on. The rest of Russia is in a black hole of sorts.

There has been a large swarm of Russian bots released on Twitter lately. I supposed some of them are real people. The thing is, I have no idea who they think they’re talking to. They show up in the feeds of the non-Russians who are most like the interviewees above: young, or educated, savvy purveyors of News who have probably actually read the books on the recommended list about the current conflict.

The basic message from the bots is that this is a proxy war or that the Russians are fighting the Americans. You’d get the idea that Ukraine isn’t involved at all. It’s just the place where the battles take place. One might come away with the feeling that Russia didn’t invade Ukraine either. They don’t like it when we push back and tell them we have no interest in attacking their country. We wouldn’t waste our army on a country like Russia that has a smaller GDP than Texas. We’ve just got the best arsenal in the world and we’re lending it to a friend. The idea that Russia is threatened by NATO is hilarious. That’s the excuse they give for their scorched earth invasion and bloody land grab. NATO. Except the reverse is true. If Ukraine had joined NATO, Russia wouldn’t have even dreamed of invading. The bots want Ukraine to sign in blood that they’ll never join NATO but after this war, they’d be crazy not to not apply with urgency once they push Russia out. NATO is a defensive alliance that serves as a deterrence. It’s not a threat to Russia unless Russia does something stupid.

Oh, but Zelenskyy is corrupt, they claim, as if Putin and his oligarchs haven’t stolen everything in Russia that isn’t nailed down. They think Biden is a joke and that Trump would have been a peacemaker. Now, THAT’s funny. I think Trump would have nuked Moscow at the first sign that his ratings dipped.

They very correctly point to our complacency back in 2014 when Obama didn’t protest too much the annexation of Crimea. Yeah, they said, you were perfectly fine with that. Except a lot of us weren’t perfectly fine with that. Or that we didn’t use our air power in Syria. Think of all the conflict prevented and lives saved if we had tipped the scales early in that debacle. But Obama was wed to his public persona as a pacifist and didn’t evolve in his position as commander in chief. Well, he let the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq drag on but he was skittish when taking on the Russians in Syria when ancient cities like Palmyra were bombed like crazy.

But here’s the difference between America and Russia. For the time being, we can change our leadership by voting the ones we don’t like out of office and by voting in new ones. Don’t like the dude in the Oval Office now? Wait four years and change the regime. The Russians can’t do that. Putin has made it impossible to displace him or the structure that is currently in place. The beauty of democracy is we get another chance to make things better. A do-Over. If Russians had that option, they never would have gone to war in Ukraine because Putin wouldn’t be in office.

Pointing this out usually evokes the snarky comeback from the bots that I’m not a part of the ruling class that actually has power. Oh, I have my eyes on those people and so did 81,000,000 other voters who truncated their power at least temporarily. But I am a member of the voting class and as long as we still can exercise that right and have every vote counted honestly, then I don’t have to live under the rule of an autocrat and feel responsible for something I can’t do anything about. I don’t have to put up with feeling helpless and ashamed of what my country is doing to innocent people. I can, and have, protested and petitioned my government for the redress of grievances. The bots don’t have a good answer to this.

The time may come soon when Putin will either no longer be able to function or he will die. When that happens, the people interviewed above may have a small window of opportunity to act and take back responsibility for that was done in their names. I hope they’re ready for it. The rumor is that they’ll have to contend with military leaders who will take over and they’ll be as harsh or harsher than Putin.


Or maybe they’ll be too busy in Ukraine defending themselves against the plucky Ukrainians who think of every shipment of arms we send them as new sports gear.

While the military is distracted and the internal suppression police don’t have anyone with authority telling them what to do, there may be a crack that can be widened to let the sunshine in.