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I totally agree with President Biden’s goal, but I don’t agree with his rhetoric.
Okay, let’s all take a deep breath.
I am not against President Biden.
So far, he has done a great job.
His intentions are good.
But there is a difference between being right, and doing the right thing.
I also think that Russia needs to get rid of Putin.
Millions of brave Russians deserve a government that doesn’t limit their freedoms. And we need to help these modern heroes who are protesting against Putin.
But we shouldn’t forget that calling for a regime change is highly controversial on a diplomatic level. Let’s also not forget the potential consequences of a revolution in Russia. Putin stepping down does not automatically lead to a democratic government in Russia.
It’s sad but true.
Let’s take a look at five reasons why American politicians calling for a coup in Russia is not a good idea:
Would you negotiate with someone who wants to take away your power? Probably not. So, why would Russia enter any negotiations with anyone when knowing that the main goal is to take out Putin?
I hate Putin too, but I am not the President of the most powerful nation on this planet.
Of course, I would love to have Putin replaced with a person who respects human rights, but this is about international politics and not a vision board.
2. Potential successors
Of course, I would be more than happy to see someone like Alexei Navalny leading Russia. But what if a coup against Putin leads to an even more nationalist government backed up by the military? What if the ones who overthrow Putin decide to attack NATO?
What happens if Russia becomes a failed state? Just imagine all Russian weapons ending up without anyone overseeing them. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the international community was worried about nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terror organizations or warlords.
Putin is bad, but imagine anarchy in a heavily armed nation with millions of unemployed soldiers. That’s pretty scary, right?
3. Narrative in Russia
The Russian opposition would love to replace Putin, but they are also accused of being under the control of Western money and influence. In a recent speech, Putin called Russian opposition a fifth column directed by NATO.
As long as Putin is able to make Russians believe that the opposition is under American control, it will be hard for any activist against Putin to gain popularity in Russia.
Yes, we have to support these brave Russians—but without creating the impression of telling them what to do.
4. Stating the obvious
Is anyone surprised that Biden wants Putin to resign? Pretty sure that Putin also got the message by now.
So, why even say it?
Do you really think European leaders feel any different when it comes to this topic? But maybe there is a reason why nobody said it out loud?
As long as Putin is in charge, we shouldn’t give him ammunition to present himself as the counterpart of the so-called world police? This only creates the danger that other authoritarian leaders start backing up Putin and spending more money on weapons to defend their status quo—just look at North Korea.
5. National sovereignty
Ukraine should be able to decide for themselves if they want to join NATO or the European Union—not Europe, Russia, or the United States.
The same goes for Russia. If we are serious about international law (and I really hope we are), we cannot ask for regime change in sovereign nations. It’s as simple as that.
We can support activists, provide help, and share their voices, but we are not supposed to interfere with domestic politics in any other country—no matter how good our intentions are.
It’s quite obvious that Putin’s actions are not good for Russia. We can expect the Russian population to get annoyed by sanctions pretty soon. And we can only hope that the frustration will be big enough to take down Putin.
But again, the Russian people have to do this. It’s their country and therefore also their choice.
I feel sorry for President Biden. He has his heart in the right place. He just stated what most of us think—but that’s not his job.
It’s not the job of the most powerful person on this planet to put into words how we feel. In times of peace, this might be a good thing to do, but in this case, it’s not helping anyone besides Putin.
And I know that his urge to use strong language is also driven by Republicans characterizing him as weak. Conservatives somehow managed to bash Biden for not being tough enough on Putin while backing up Putin’s narrative.
As I am writing this, I am already worried that Conservatives will share my narrative to back up theirs. Dear Conservative, please don’t even try.
Because that’s the main difference between real democracy and authoritarianism, I am free to criticize President Biden without automatically being against him.
Guys like Putin and Donald Trump think it is not acceptable to criticize their actions. Anyone who is not with them is automatically against them—but that’s not how democracy works.
I still think that President Biden is doing a good job overall. It’s not his fault that gas prices are up. It’s not his fault that Putin attacked Ukraine.
But that also doesn’t automatically mean that he is always right. Nobody is perfect.
With all due respect, President Biden, I think you were wrong on this one.
I won’t go to jail for writing this article—and that’s why I love Democracy.