To Russia with Love
Dear “peaceful people of a belligerent state,”
“We see you.” You are not our enemy. We are not your enemy. You are an enemy of your own state. Over 13,000 brave Russian citizens have been imprisoned for peacefully protesting the illegal invasion of Ukraine. We know this is not your war. This is Putin’s war. The whole world knows this, including the Russian military and the FSB (why else would they be secretly subverting Putin’s orders if not to save their own lives and souls?). We know you would not choose to bomb a maternity hospital, a holocaust memorial where tens of thousands of Jewish people and Soviet prisoners of war were killed, and indiscriminately murder 40 children and over 500 civilians and counting. We know you would not choose to make a ceasefire agreement to let innocent civilians escape Ukraine and then immediately violate it by bombing the routes of safe passage before the ink had dried. We know you would not want millions of women, elderly men, children, and their pet animals to have to flee their homes and live as refugees in order to avoid dying in missile attacks. We know you would not sacrifice thousands of your own sons, fathers, brothers, and uncles to commit war crimes for Putin’s “special military operation.” Know this: the ones who make it back to Russia alive will suffer psychologically for a lifetime knowing they participated in a genocide. Putin is robbing you and your children of a free and fruitful Russia. Putin is stealing your future to feed his own fragile ego. It is time for us, the peaceful people of Russia, the Ukraine, and the rest of the free world to work together to stop Putin before this becomes World War III. It is time to resist.
We have a lot in common with each other. We want many of the same things. We want a better world for our children to grow up in than we had for ourselves. We want to live free and enjoy our lives in community with the ones we love. We want to live and let live. We want to love who we want to love. We want to believe, say, and do what we want as long as it does no harm to others.
We, in the US, are far from perfect. We still struggle to live up to the truths we hold to be self-evident, but we have evolved and amended our beliefs in a “peaceful revolution” to try and give everyone equal protection under the law and we continue to strive to make it better. We are no more worthy than you are of the natural, unalienable human rights that we all deserve. We all deserve to live free or die trying.
During his State of the Union address on January 6th, 1941 (a far cry from our embarrassing January 6th, 2021 insurrection), US President Franklin Roosevelt laid out the case for four universal freedoms — what became known as the famous Four Freedoms Speech — that would unite the liberty seeking people of the world against the growing rise of tyranny:
In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God [or not believe in God] in his own way — everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want — which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.
The fourth is freedom from fear — which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in the world. [note: nuclear disarmament? yes! disarming the public, making us defenseless against tyranny? hell no!]
That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.
Sadly, more than eighty years later, these freedoms are still not universal, and we now face “the so-called new order of tyranny which” Putin seeks “to create with the crash of a bomb.” Imagine a Russia where you are not arrested and jailed for speaking out against this illegal invasion of Ukraine? In Russia, as you well know, you are not even permitted to call this war a war. Media outlets across Russia have stopped reporting on the war for fear of Putin’s new laws to control and muzzle the press. Putin has blocked Facebook and Twitter — platforms that his bots and subversive agents used to propagate propaganda to fracture the free world and undermine our democratic elections. Now that the truth hurts and is working against Putin, he is calling the real news “fake news.” He signed in to law legislation which provides for a 15 year prison sentence if people are found to be “falsely” reporting on the Russian military. In other words, anything — including the absolute truth — is a crime if it embarrasses Putin and makes him and his war look bad.
You deserve a safe, free, and prosperous Russia. One that is not controlled by corrupt oligarchs and Soviet-era intelligence officers who assassinate and imprison dissidents. One that has a diverse and abundant economy that is not solely dependent on exporting hydrocarbons to make the few wealthy while the many suffer. You deserve a Russia where you can love who you want to love. Believe what you want to believe. Say what you want to say. And do what you want to do as long as it does no harm to others. We recognize there are millions of good and peace-loving people in Russia who are under the thumb of a repressive regime. We see you. We hear you. We applaud your courage for standing up, speaking out, and for facing imprisonment or worse. We, the free world, need to do much more, faster.
In that same State of the Union address, President Roosevelt called upon the United States and all of our people (military and civilian) to make this pledge and we need to recommit to this today — for a free Ukraine, a future with a free Russia, and a free world:
Let us say to the democracies: “We Americans are vitally concerned in your defense of freedom. We are putting forth our energies, our resources and our organizing powers to give you the strength to regain and maintain a free world. We shall send you, in ever-increasing numbers, ships, planes, tanks, guns. This is our purpose and our pledge.”
In fulfillment of this purpose we will not be intimidated by the threats of dictators that they will regard as a breach of international law or as an act of war our aid to the democracies which dare to resist their aggression. Such aid is not an act of war, even if a dictator should unilaterally proclaim it so to be.
When the dictators, if the dictators, are ready to make war upon us, they will not wait for an act of war on our part. They did not wait for Norway or Belgium or the Netherlands to commit an act of war.
Their only interest is in a new one-way international law, which lacks mutuality in its observance, and, therefore, becomes an instrument of oppression.
The happiness of future generations of Americans may well depend upon how effective and how immediate we can make our aid felt.
The happiness of future generations of liberty seeking people, all around the world, “may well depend upon how effective and how immediate we can make our aid felt.” America needs to fulfill its role as the “Arsenal of Democracy.” Let us all work together to do our part to fight and resist Putin’s tyranny. Let us all work together to do our part to fight for “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Knowing “that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” Putin’s form of government is destructive and it is your right, as the governed, to alter or to abolish it. Here is to a future with a safe, free, and happy Russia and a safe, free, and happy Ukraine. Let’s get to work.