In an op-ed in today’s Los Angeles Times, Alexander J. Moytyl, a professor of political science at Rutgers, asks, “How long will Russians tolerate Putin’s costly war?” After pointing out the many negative consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Moytyl makes a pointed observation: “And yet, almost a year after the invasion of Ukraine, Russians continue to support strongman Putin and the war.” Moytyl just cannot understand how this can be.
Well, maybe if we look inward, which Moytyl certainly does not do in his op-ed, we can figure out the answer.
Let’s consider, for example, the U.S. government’s wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. There were lots of negative aspects of those two wars, beginning with the fact the U.S. invasions of both countries were illegal, both under International law and U.S. law.
It is undisputed that neither Afghanistan nor Iraq ever attacked the United States. That means that the U.S. was the aggressor in both wars.
Yes, I know, defenders of the Afghanistan invasion point to the fact that Osama bin Laden, who was accused of orchestrating the 9/11 attacks, was supposedly living in Afghanistan. Nonetheless, under International law, the U.S. had no legitimate legal authority to invade Afghanistan to arrest or kill him.
It is also undisputed that there was no extradition treaty between Afghanistan and the United States. Therefore, when President Bush demanded that the Afghan government extradite bin Laden to the U.S., under international law Afghanistan had the legitimate authority to say no. Under international law, Bush had no legitimate authority to invade the country simply because Afghanistan rejected his unconditional extradition demand.
It is also undisputed that neither the Iraqi people nor the Iraqi government had any connection to the 9/11 attacks. The U.S. invasion of that country was a pure war of aggression, one based on the flagrant and fraudulent pretense of uncovering non-existent “weapons of mass destruction.”
It is also undisputed that there was no declaration of war issued by Congress against either Afghanistan or Iraq, as required by the U.S. Constitution. That made both invasions illegal under our form of constitutional government.
It is impossible to know exactly how many people in Afghanistan and Iraq were tortured, injured, or killed by U.S. forces in those two wars of aggression. That’s because, early on, the Pentagon announced that it would not keep track of enemy dead. That’s because the lives of Afghans and Iraqis didn’t count.
However, according to the Watson Institute at Brown University, “Nearly 20 years after the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan, the cost of its global war on terror stands at $8 trillion and 900,000 deaths.”
That is a lot of money. And that is a lot of dead people. I would estimate that 99 percent of those dead people had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.
Yet, many Americans supported their government throughout all this mayhem, just as the Russian people are standing with their government during its current mayhem. In fact, I remember church ministers all across the United States beseeching their congregations for years to “support the troops, especially those in harm’s way in Afghanistan and Iraq.” I also recall how we were all encouraged to “thank the troops for their service” whenever we saw them in uniform. I also remember all those critical things that were said against those of us who opposed these wars of aggression and resulting occupations.
Supporting their government in time of war is what most citizens do in every nation, including Russia, the United States, and Germany. Most citizens are forced into the state’s educational system at a very young age, where their minds are molded to blindly come to the support of their regime during wartime. Children are inculcated with mindsets of deference to authority and blind trust in their political, military, and intelligence officials. That mindset continues well into adulthood. In the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, I recall many people, including commentators in the mainstream press, exclaiming, “We need to trust our officials. They have access to information that we don’t have.”
So, what befuddles me is why Alexander J. Moytyl is befuddled by the overwhelming support by Russian citizens of their regime during wartime. If American citizens blindly support their regime during wartime, why would anyone expect that Russian citizens would respond differently?