The Russian government has invaded Ukraine using the same pretext of national security that the U.S. used to invade Iraq 19 years ago in 2003.
As a U.S. diplomat who resigned from the U.S. government in 2003 in opposition to Bush’s war on Iraq, I hoped at the time that all Americans would not be vilified by the world for the actions of the Bush administration.
As hard as it might be for some now, I plead that we not vilify the Russian people for the actions of their political leaders. I hope that we can be as generous to peace-seeking Russians as the world was to anti-war Americans.
I have visited Russia twice in the past 6 years and I know the Russians I spoke with—and I would guess that most Russians—do not want war and object to Putin’s war on Ukraine.
Thousands of Russians have taken to the streets to protest the war and have been jailed. Thousands of Russians have signed letters and petitions to their own government to stop the military action against Ukraine.
By March 3, 2022, 1.5 million Russians had signed a petition calling for President Putin to end the war on Ukraine. “We demand an immediate ceasefire by the Russian Armed Forces, and their immediate withdrawal from the territory of the sovereign state of Ukraine.” The petition described those who decided to start hostilities in Ukraine as “war criminals” who “sanctioned aggressive and war-justifying propaganda in the Russian media.” The petition added: “We will seek to hold them accountable for their deeds.”
4,000+ Russian scientists, science Journalists have written an open letter against a Ukraine war. Artists, curators, architects, critics, art historians, art managers and other representatives of culture and art of the Russian Federation initiated and signed an open letter against the war. I was honoured to be a signatory of a letter from 12 American and 12 Russian women against war. 44 of the top chess players in Russia wrote a letter of opposition to war on Ukraine.
As we in the United States deal with our concerns about war, I hope that Russian students will be allowed to continue studies in the U.S. without fear of hate and that Russian-American communities will not be targeted for the actions of a government they do not represent.
Six years ago I wrote about a two-week trip to Russia visiting cities in four regions of Russia. The one question that was asked over and over was, “Why does America hate us? Why do you demonize us?”
Most would add a caveat—”I like American people and I think YOU like us individually but why does the American government hate our government?”
Now six years later, the Russian government has invaded Ukraine using the same pretext of national security that the U.S. used to invade Iraq 19 years ago in 2003.
But as they have known from past international actions toward Russia, they will be demonized as individuals for the actions of their government whether they agree with the actions of their government or not, and will be suffering withering international sanctions that will purposefully disrupt their lives.
They wonder why citizens of other countries such as the United States, Saudi Arabia, Israel, United Arab Emirates and others, whose leaders have done the same illegal actions toward other countries and peoples in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Palestine, do not suffer the same outrage for the actions of their leaders.
I agree with the decision of the International Criminal Court prosecutor to open a case against President Putin for his war on Ukraine and ask him to add President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair to the ICC complaint for waging war on Iraq in 2003.
All politicians who wage war must be held accountable, not just President Putin.
Ann Wright is a 29 year US Army/Army Reserves veteran who retired as a Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned in March 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December 2001 she was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. She is the co-author of the book “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”
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