In the historical profile of a country at war, the civilian population and infrastructure has always been a legitimate military target for attack. WWI and WWII are good examples of this truism. The reason for this is because, in a typical profile for a country at war, the support for that war is derived from the people. So if the adversary can break the will of the people, the will of the nation to wage war is also broken.
A good example of this was FDR’s need for the American population’s support to enter World War Two. Whether FDR was aware of the impending surprise attack on Pearl Harbor or not is a topic for historians. But it still remains that it was the support of the outraged American citizenry that gave him the political capital to declare war on Japan, and later, Germany and Italy. Even Titor was aware of this requirement of public support for entering a war:
As you are aware, the ruthlessness of the Japanese “sneak” attack galvanized the US people into entering WWII.
John Titor – March 1st, 2001
Personally, I find it interesting that Titor felt it necessary to highlight that the Japanese sneak attack as a “sneak” attack, implying that it might not have been such a secret to FDR. But I digress…The point remains that public support for military action has been a very large component to legitimately enter a military conflict. Woodrow Wilson knew it, Teddy Roosevelt knew it, FDR knew it, Johnson knew it, Bush knew it and as it would appear, our friend John knew it.
To reiterate, we are speaking about the typical and historical profile for a country at war; that a government can and may go to war only with the consent of the citizens of that nation. We are not talking about indiscriminate military “police actions” or operations “other than war” that have become the norm of world affairs and American foreign policy in recent decades.
So, if the will to wage war by a national government is derived from its citizens, then the primary aim of any adversary would be to break the will of that population to continue making war. Once the support of the people is lost or broken to continue, political support also evaporates and the adversary wins. This is an example of strategic thinking to win a war.
The important take-away from the above is that, in the adversary’s eyes, the national government and the citizenry are considered one entity. Destroying the civilian’s will to fight (through either bombs or propaganda) simultaneously destroys the national government’s ability to fight. This truism has been acknowledged throughout all of human history. Only in recent decades has it become “fashionable” to restrict warfare to actual soldiers (terrorists notwithstanding) of the opposing nation, and only in the eyes of the western world.
In light of the recent military invasion and occupation by Russia of the Ukraine, I was reminded of a statement made by our friend, John. Specifically he said:
I want to add a twist to your thinking. Russia’s enemy in the United States is not you, the average person. Russia’s enemy is the United States government.
John Titor – Feb 8th, 2001
I find this statement quite intriguing. In Titor’s story, and as represented in the above quote, Titor departed from the accepted concept of warfare and explicitly stated that Russia’s target was the American government and not the people of the United States. At the risk of being accused of logical contortions, it would appear that Titor is stating that the Russian leadership perceived his enemy (the US Government) as completely separate from the citizenry of the United States. Why would Russia’s strategy against their enemy change and run completely counter to all of human history? Why was Russia’s adversary (the American Government) specifically divorced from the population that supposedly supports it?
What Titor appears to be saying is that the Russian leader drew a distinction between the American government and the average American citizen. Doesn’t literally all of human warfare argue in the opposite?
Is it possible that the Russian leader of Titor’s story believed that a schism existed between the American public and their government; a gulf so wide that it would be counter-productive to treat them as one entity? Is it possible that the Russian leader knew that the American people did not support their government or its actions and might actually support just such an attack?
This line of thinking eerily parallels the Bush administration’s own expectations at the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship in 2003. Many within the administration fully expected (and were immediately proven correct) that the Iraqi people would welcome American troops as the French welcomed the Allies when France was liberated in 1945, irrespective of the fact that their welcome quickly evaporated with the power vacuum that was immediately created.
This statement is not meant to pass judgment on the “rightness” or “wrongness” of the assumption, but only to highlight the very real strategic variables that any invading aggressor must account for: the reaction to the invasion by the local population. The Bush Jr. administration accounted for it in the invasion of Iraq, the Bush Sr. administration accounted for it in its liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi aggression, Putin has accounted for it in invading the predominantly Russian enclave of the Crimea and it appears Putin will account for it again when the time comes to account for the American reaction to a similar attack on their own country.
Conviction of a Time Traveler sufficiently identified the times we are living in now as the times Titor spoke about in 2000. Because of that, we can now identify the Russian leader of Titor’s story as Vladimir Putin. From there we can see that Titor indirectly indicated Putin’s own current perception of the American government’s actions and the fact that those actions did not reflect the wishes of the American people. Otherwise, Putin would also have attacked civilian targets as legitimate military objectives.
To restate, Titor’s statement:
The “enemy” that was attacked by Russia in the U.S. was the forces of the government you live under right now.
John Titor – Feb 8th, 2001
hightlights the fact that Russia’s leadership (now known to be Vladimir Putin) believes the Government of the United States as separate and not representing the interests or wishes of the American people. Otherwise, if Putin DID believe that the American people supported the current military adventurism exhibited by American actions on the world stage, civilian targets would be considered legitimate military targets for any impending (and eventual) attack by Russia’s military. But according to Titor, they were not.
We can also infer a potential corollary to Putin’s outlook on the schism that he perceives to exist between the American people and their government.
Is it possible that, by directing his once and future attack on the American government, he is setting the stage to win the hearts and minds of everyday Americans after the decapitation of the American government is effected? If Titor’s words are to be studied at all, it would appear that Titor actually held the Russian attack in some measure of esteem wherein he actually appreciated the attack! Titor even went so far as to describe the post-attack economic state between Russia and the New United States as quite robust:
Russia is now our largest trading partner and the Capitol of the US was moved to Omaha Nebraska.
-John Titor, November 7, 2000
Is this statement also a future indication that Putin’s gambit to win the propaganda war will work? And, if we care to extrapolate even further, since international trade is a prime role for any national government, we can also infer that the new national government instituted post-attack is actually friendly with their former ally/adversary. How could this be if not for a complete “reboot” of the American government so as to be more in line with its citizens wishes and desires?
To play chess competently, one needs to think both tactically and strategically and some of the world’s most renown chess masters have been Russian. Can the scenario above support the contention that Putin is playing (and winning) the chess game that is geopolitics? Should we welcome just such a win?