There are lots of reasons to support Ukraine after it was invaded by Russia. One key reason is this: it wasn't Russia that invaded Ukraine. It was Vladimir Putin, the authoritarian ruler of Russia.
Now, defenders of what Russia did might say that in the United States, the president is the commander-in-chief of the military. So a decision to go to war rests with the president.
Actually, that isn't true. Our Constitution gives Congress the right to declare war. Recently American presidents have usurped that power in various ways, but the Constitution hasn't changed.
But in Russia, Putin is completely free to start a war on his own. He didn't become the so-called "president" of Russia in a free and fair election. He got that office through underhanded means, which is how he has remained in power for several decades, with no end in sight unless he is overthrown.
Speaking of no end in sight, that's a decent description of how long the tables are when Putin meets with those who report to him. Here he is with two of his generals after the Ukraine invasion.
This is an apt image of an authoritarian.
No sitting in a circle with some colleagues, having a free-spirited discussion where everybody's opinion is valued. One man at the head of a table, staring at two generals who know that agreeing with Putin is a must if they value their jobs. And their lives.
I've been using "authoritarian" frequently in my blog posts about Putin's totally unjustified invasion of Ukraine. I see this word as a noun as well as an adjective, as in Putin is an authoritarian.
Today it dawned on me that while Putin is an authoritarian, along with the leaders of China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and some other countries, and Donald Trump is a would-be authoritarian, the dictionary definition of the word applies to many religious leaders also.
The Pope is chosen by a bunch of cardinals. He isn't elected by all Catholics. After becoming Pope, he isn't responsible to anyone else, so far as I know. Others can advise the Pope, but no one can impeach the Pope or otherwise remove him from office.
Ditto with gurus.
If they don't announce themselves as a guru, usually they are appointed by a previous guru. Then they remain the leader of their religious sect until they die or quit. Their followers typically are expected to have blind faith in their authority.
Which, the way I see it, makes them authoritarians.
Or course, there are degrees of authoritarianism. Putin is a truly nasty authoritarian. He murders journalists and political opponents. He makes dissent a crime in Russia.
Often the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, is lumped in with authoritarian leaders, but Modi was elected and while he's an extremist, I view him as a moderate authoritarian -- not at all a compliment, but a step down from an extreme authoritarian like Putin.
The same applies to religious authoritarians. The current Pope strikes me as kind and gentle, as does the Dalai Lama. Both enjoy concentrated power as the head of their religious organizations, yet they're decidedly mild authoritarians.
The Supreme Leader of Iran, by contrast, has enormous political and religious power. So I'd definitely call him a high level authoritarian.
Writing that last sentence caused me to realize that I've always used "him" in connection with "authoritarian." Maybe there's a woman who is an authoritarian ruler, either political or religious. I just can't think of one.
What stands out in that joke of a picture is the double standards. I mean you might conceivably maybe perhaps bring up some sympathy for someone who's turned germaphobe in this pandemic. But see how he's happy to have the two at the other end huddle together, even as he himself stays safely out of harm's way. And let's not forget, that isn't an eccentric billionaire living weirdly but living his private life in his own way, but a man who's tasked to serve the interests of his country and countrymen, and who enjoys the perks of his office only to facilitate his doing that.
Absolutely, the few voices that we're getting to hear despite the clampdown there as well as the personal risk attendant to speaking out, do indicate that many Russians squarely oppose this war. Like you say, this isn't Russia vs Ukraine, it's Putin doing the king-emperor thing.
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | March 01, 2022 at 09:29 PM
You're right, of course. While it isn't as if there are zero tyrant queens in history, but they're relatively few; and the fact that the first name that comes to mind is from fiction shows how skewed is the gender divide when it comes to authoritarian heads of state.
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | March 01, 2022 at 09:44 PM
Hey I'm just glad the leader of the so-called "free world", Biden, is on the ball and calling the situation so accurately.
I mean, I don't think there's anybody who is questioning that Putin won't be winning the hearts and minds of the Iranian people with his actions in Ukraine.
Spot on, that man. I see why he's President now.
Posted by: manjit | March 02, 2022 at 06:36 AM
American fools, authority of British Mafia has destroyed your education system. The phonetic sounds are stolen from Sanskrit and the framework of English is false, deceptive and rubbish to make American fools from normal Americans. You are victim of British Mafia post colonial dominance by false language and false education system. Just buying dictionary will not solve your problem American fools, framework of English is false.
Posted by: Vinny | March 02, 2022 at 09:21 AM
THE 5 SECRET NAMES ARE SATANIC, THEY ARE JOT NIRANJAN ( LIGHT OF THE DEVIL), ONKAR, RARANKAR, SOHUNG, SATNAM. DONT REPEAT THEM, DONT GET INITIATED. THE GURU ALSO PRACTICES BLACK MAGIC
Posted by: Ram | March 02, 2022 at 01:15 PM
"After becoming Pope, he isn't responsible to anyone else, so far as I know. Others can advise the Pope, but no one can impeach the Pope or otherwise remove him from office."
Credit where due -- your description of a pope's authority is precisely correct. You actually have a better grasp of papal authority than many Catholics. So many of them wrongly believe that a pope is subject to some kind of Catholic checks and balances system. But in fact, all popes have supreme and unhindered authority over the entire Catholic church.
But the strange thing is, try (as I have) telling any of these Catholics that. Show them what the official catechism says about a pope's supreme and absolute authority, and they'll still find ways to argue that the Pope isn't really an authority at all, he's just a servant of a body of truth.
The same disconnect about what is and is not just authority, and what is and is not an abuse of authority, exists in our political sphere. Was it Donald Trump or another U.S. president who directed Homeland Security to issue a "National Terrorism Bulletin" last month, declaring that trying to “undermine public trust in U.S. government institutions” is now a terrorist act? Many people today now believe that disagreeing with the government should be a crime -- a belief that the current admin has encouraged and fostered. Others believe that the 1st Amendment is being trampled on. However one feels about that specific issue, I believe that "authoritarianism" can be just as evident in a culture that poses as democratic.
Truly, authoritarianism is in the eye of the beholder. We who were subject to the last 2 years of the government telling us when we could go out, what we had to wear on our face, whether we could work or not, and what drugs to pump into our bodies and the bodies of our children have our opinion abuse of authority. Especially when those authorities never seemed to personally follow the directives they forced on us plebes. But the other side loved that authority, couldn't get enough of it. Now it's looking like the entire exercise was for nothing, that viruses come, viruses go, and not much can be done about that. All the noise and tumult were wasted effort...and yet, I think many of us really enjoyed the cracking of the whip, the full bear-down of our government upon us. Indeed, many are sad to see these days of authoritarian excess come to an end.
Yes, just how do we discern whether authority is bad, good, or "mild"? It's an interesting question. Speaking of the Dalai Lama, the very reason the communists brutally crushed the Tibetan people and their culture was based on their claim that Tibetan Buddhism was authoritarian, and the people needed to be liberated from that awful system of authoritarian rule by the Lamas. Power to the people, down with religious authority and the opiate of the masses! Who had the just argument and the moral right to authority, the Tibetans or the Chinese?
Posted by: TENDZIN | March 02, 2022 at 07:53 PM
I enjoyed the full bear-down of free government money!
Posted by: umami | March 02, 2022 at 09:12 PM
Russian people do not want this war..
Only Putin want this.
What good can come out of this ever..
Posted by: s* | March 02, 2022 at 11:52 PM
And idd Tedzin,
Power to the people!!
The Vaccin idioty is also a terrible state of afairs.
Posted by: s* | March 02, 2022 at 11:57 PM
The teachings say so about the power of the pope but read some history books about popes and you will find also how much power the entourage has on the pope.
That holds for all kings and other people in such type of position.
No ruler is ever alone as nobody can stand absolute loneliness as it would turn a human being insane.
He, the ruler, is surrounded by confidants, that wispier in his ears. That whispering can and does easily turns into brainwashing. Many of the idea's rulers have, even today, are from these "whisperers" in the background. They are the real manipulators / puppet masters behind the scene.
The influence, often deadly, of the court is well documented in history books but still mostly the light is on the ruler and the wisperers remain in the dark
Posted by: um | March 03, 2022 at 01:03 AM
Well, Putin is definitely the most dangerous man on the planet right now.
Is authoritarianism synonymous with sociopathy and/or psychopathy? Just curious 🧐
Posted by: July | March 03, 2022 at 05:47 AM
Putin is an authoritarian. So are most religious leaders.
Gurinder Singh Dictator Dhillion is an authoritarian and one crazy fool.
If he had it his way WW3 would be already a part history by now.
The things which go through this thick skull are already there for the taking if you can see past the illusionary religious maskerad.
Think facts hard facts and what has already been Exposed about Gurinder and it paints a dreadful picture of a infectious parasitecal devious mind gone terribly wrong.
Take a good look at what Gurinder is upto now and see how he's slowly spreading his wings around the globe nothing more than a looney baba who also wants to take over the world.
Greedy Guru Gurinder have a little shame
Posted by: Manoj | March 03, 2022 at 09:10 AM
Yes, every ruler or person in authority has a "court" of sorts, as no leader, good or bad, can be expected to run an empire by themselves. But that doesn't mean the court has authority over the ruler. As for the pope, there's no record in history over the last 2000 years that some kind of papal court has overruled a pope's decrees. I'm not sure what you wanted me to note in the link you posted about Machiavelli.
I guess the jury is still out whether bombardment of civilians is on a par with a dietary restriction on animal rennet.
Whatever Putin is doing, the U.S. has an unprecedented crisis at our border, Afghan “refugees” raping little kids in our country, illegal aliens hauling meth and fentanyl into our country causing an epic toll of lost lives, rampant shoplifting, carjacking and assaults destroying neighborhoods in our country. We should be dealing with that, first, while of course doing what we can for Ukraine.
As is usual in these times, the U.S. has a bizarrely warped set of priorities on what is important. Gender issues, hunting down racists, fixing the weather, etc take precedence over things that have real importance.
Posted by: TENDZIN | March 03, 2022 at 11:50 AM
The only thing worse than Hitler, is someone that disguises as good , love and light, but in reality is a dark devious soul. Gurinder Singh Dhillon fits this stereotype. He's a hypocrite, a greedy man, a womaniser and a land grab baba. He says he has no political affiliation yet takes pictures with Modi to influence voters. His words are like the clown boris Johnson and Dosey Biden, which is full of lies to appease the public but deep inside has only has his own self interest at heart. Gurinder you are an evil dark soul inside that is masquerading as fake love and light . You make the sevadar close to you carbon copies of yourself, inflating their egos by making them feel privileged and special. Your meditation mantra is satanic, the first word , jot niranjan means light of the devil. You are a dictator, as your word to the slaves, (sevadar) is always final without question . You have zero spirituality and in the contrary have a massive ego. You are exposed as a fraudster, a con man and a crook.
Posted by: Uchit | March 03, 2022 at 01:19 PM
Formally, the court does not have power but in reality the court and the advisers have power.
Many of the things that were and are attributed to a ruler are whispered into his ears by an informal adviser, that operates as an ideologist.
Machiavelli, in his book, a book to be found on the table of all rulers, explains the role of the adviser.
The ruler derives his power from those around him, those that offer him the idea's, those that are willing to do what he wishes.
How can a ruler, king, president, prime minister or whatever rule without others??
If they do not inform him he even would not know what is going on outside his court.
What you wrote about the pope makes me smile ... just try to read something about the role of the Jesuits, the head of that order as "black" pope, black because of the color of their garment and of course by the curie of cardinals. Several popes found death under questionable circumstances
To exercise their power rulers are depended on their court and that dependence if the ruler is loved by his court and/or as the court has people that are after his power, it becomes a source of paranoia.
Posted by: um | March 03, 2022 at 02:38 PM
The world is complicated. There are so many issues that need to be addressed. We need to learn how to prioritize.
Ukraine is a priority because it’s part of a much bigger problem—Sino-Russia. We have a new world power on the playing field. This isn’t Russia. This isn’t China, this is Sino-Russia. It’s nothing short of apocalyptic. What’s happening in Ukraine will happen in Taiwan and what happens in Taiwan determines the fate of democracy.
Posted by: July | March 03, 2022 at 04:40 PM
No, a ruler's court is not more powerful than the ruler.
No, at no time in history did Jesuit leaders have power over any pope.
No, a ruler's advisors do not have power over a ruler simply because they provide administrative assistance to the ruler.
Posted by: TENDZIN | March 03, 2022 at 06:30 PM
Alright, ... what are the advisors, political ideologists, the members of court, and presidential staff, the cardinal in the roman Curie, doing?
And what can a president, king, ruler etc do without these people on his own?
What power to these rules, popes, president have and how do they exercise these powers.
Rulers of any kind are ...... human ... they have their weaknesses and these can and will be manipulated by those around them... that is what history is all about. The leaders of the three super powers have all a political ideologist that are not even member of their staff. You are free to find out what the ideology of these advisors is and how they are related to the rulers they "serve"... hahaha
Administrators etc are human to, no robots, they exercise their "service" ass rulers do their service.
Posted by: um | March 04, 2022 at 01:15 AM
An "influencer" , to use a modern word:
Posted by: um | March 04, 2022 at 01:40 AM
And in general terms:
And we have a saying here that:
Behind every succesfull man stands a strong women.
And do not forget the many so called spiritual "influencers" behind rulers.
The Rasputins of sorts. In our country one of the previous queens was [political] under the influence of a "female spiritual healer"
Posted by: um | March 04, 2022 at 02:07 AM
The greatest tyranny is reality.
It is unwavering and unwilling to adapt to our desires.
Reality isn't democractic. It doesn't take a vote to decide whether the auto accident should or shoudn't happen, whether the storm should or shouldn't happen.
And there is another tyrant within each of us. And that is the tyranny of our own opinion.
How often do we question it? Is it even capable of being questioned by us, in our lowly state, as it's subjects.
Posted by: spence tepper | March 04, 2022 at 05:53 AM
Lots of similarities between Putin and GSD. They have the same leadership style (which is the opposite of the Zelenskyy Method). The only difference I can see is that (as far as I know) GSD hasn’t invaded another country… yet. Although, the land grabbing might qualify. I think the two authoritarians would be be best friends.
Posted by: birds of a feather | March 05, 2022 at 01:33 AM
Posted by: Hmm | March 05, 2022 at 01:59 PM