I know that this is not true, but right now I feel that I am the only one opposing the string of indiscriminate sanctions and private actions affecting the life of Russian people.
Of course, it goes without saying, that I also empathize for the people of Ukraine, and Syria, and Yemen, and… I just not think that taking out our frustrations on random Russian citizens will achieve anything but more suffering. Let’s put this aspect out of the way and do not engage in whataboutism or a competition about suffering.
The Stuff That Does Not Matter
Let’s start by setting aside also issues of fairness, like that the USA also has engaged in wars of aggressions against Iraq, Libya, etc. The war in Afghanistan was also unnecessary, given that it has emerged the Taliban were ready to give up Bin Laden, but the USA administration was unwilling to negotiate. I want to set these debates aside because, even if the comparison made sense, that is all beside the point.
I would also set aside debating about completely unnecessary actions agains the Russian people, made only to make a point. Like banning Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Paralympics. I am sure that punishing random disabled Russians will bring peace to the world because the fearful regime rests all on the great victories of their sport teams.
These are examples of a mixture of bad human attitudes that show themselves in time of conflict. They are due to many things, such as:
- real hate against the Russians
- a need to feel that you are doing something to show your oppositions to the actions of their government
- a narcistic will to put yourself at the center of attention to look like the good guy
These are indeed bad and harmful, but they are manifestation of common human reactions that I do not think we can eliminate. I mean, look at this bizarre article trying to justify the move with the ridicolous claim that sports are vital to the regime support. After a few crisis, we have all read such razionalizations to support any random action taken in terms of vague and unproven political meanings.
Indiscriminate Sactions Are Immoral
I am simply against indiscriminate actions ruining the lives of common people and companies in Russia.
I am talking about sanctions that make hard or impossible to use credit cards in Russia or making hard doing business with foreigners. Nowadays people depends on credit card for buying everything, from groceries to furniture. How would you survive if you could not use your credit card?
I work online mostly with people outside my country. If that happened to me, I think I would lose everything. I live in a democracy, but I do not think I can stop my government from doing anything.
It is immoral because we are harming people that have not done anything wrong and have no power to change the situation on the ground. These decisions cost nothing to the ones taking them, but can ruin the lifes of common citizens and companies in Russia which have no chance of affecting the decisions of Russian leadership.
Whenever we talk about Iran or Cuba we take care in distinguishing between the people and the government. The governments might be bad, but we should not hate the people that live there. This time is no different. These actions creates a cleavage between our societies and their societies.
Indiscriminate Sanctions Are Counterproductive
These sanctions also does not seem particularly effective in obtaining their political goals, only in hurting the economy of target. That is because people becomes more dependent on the government even for basic survival. However, that is also not the main point of my opposition.
The reason because I think they will be counterproductive is their long-term consequences. Citizens of authoritarian countries are always subject of some risks when dealing with foreigners. That is because authoritarian countries need to mantain control of their population. And since they cannot control foreigners, they instead look with suspicion everyone of their citizen that deals with foreigners.
Now people living in authoritarian countries will be even more wary of having contacts outside their own countries. They learned that their lifes and businesses can be completely destroyed if their government did something the rest of the world does not approve.
We are fostering isolation and laying the groundwork for a total war, in which any basic civilian infrastructure is a legitimate target in times of conflict. I think we can all agree that banking and the internet are vital necessities for the average citizen. Would you be in favor of blocking food, electricity or water to people living in bad countries?
And yet many companies are volunteering to stop providing their services to score political points in their own countries. So much that the ones that oppose such moves are hated and boycotted. I mean read the comments in this article about Cloudflare refusal to stop providing services in Russia.
This Is Going To Happen Against Internal Enemies In Democracies, Too
I understand that Russian people are a very unlikable victim right now, but we have to protect civil rights for everybody if we want them to actually work.
I fear that we are starting to see similar extreme measures used against civilians in democratic countries. Given the animosity that we see in our societies, I do not think this bode well for our future.
To me the most surprising thing is historical comparison. In Italy we had long period of terroristic campaigns and yet I do not think that anybody argued that people on the extreme left or extreme right should be denied basic services.