Why people should be able to defend Putin
I was thinking today about our (meaning "the Western Coalition" of countries with a common anti-Putin position) handling of the conflict in Ukraine. I was imagining a reporter trying to ascertain whether people support Ukraine or Russia, Zelensky or Putin, going on the street with a microphone and asking randomly for opinion. And I realized that would be impossible, because any positive support for Putin's aggression will immediately lead to negative personal consequences, so why would anyone be honest about that?
Somehow, people saw there was a war in Ukraine and they thought it's like a Twitter war. "Russia attacked Ukraine. We're cancelling Russia!". Fine, people were trained to respond to conflict with some kind of mob action, do it your way! But how can you expect that the result of the same action will be different in the case of Russia? On Twitter people mob on someone until their life is ruined, they mob back stronger or they just don't care and leave Twitter. What exactly do people expect Putin is going to do? An insincere apology on Oprah? No. Either Russia will be ruined, with all of its people, they will mob back, and you don't want that from a nuclear power, or they will just not care and carry on, which will ruin both Russia and Ukraine, with all of their people.
We are in a situation where our entire society punishes dialogue, even compassion. How can you resolve a conflict if you are unwilling to even consider the point of view of the other side? What do you expect? Putin to one day wake up and think "All these people say I am evil. Perhaps I am. Shame on me! Ok, guys, stop the war! Do no evil"? As long as open discussion of all of the view points - regardless of their validity or moral value - is impossible so is the end of the conflict outside the complete destruction of one or both sides.
How exactly did societies that took pride in their democratic ideals reach a point where dissent is censored, dissenters punished, their lives destroyed and discussion stifled?
How daft to believe that skirting the responsibilities of principle will ensure the victory of that principle. How idiotic to assume that a position of strength validates your moral stance. Putin does that! People from behind the Iron Curtain had that during the Communist era, where everything anyone would say is how wonderful our magnificent leader is and how the Communist ideals are all we think about. North Korea uses the same system. And now "the free world". "Oh, another tyrant! Let's tyrannize them!".
Taking a side in this is as debatable as in any other conflict because both sides would act righteously. What I am saying is that resolution of conflict lies in the ability to debate it, not in coercing people to sing your tune.
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