Letters to the Editor: Another war started by a paranoid dictator. Was World War II not enough?

Protesters in Westwood hold signs reading "Hands Off Ukraine" and "Stop Putin"
Members of the Ukrainian American community protest Thursday outside the federal building in Westwood.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I was born at the beginning of World War II in England and know the absolute hell it caused for all human life on the planet, taking many years and millions of deaths to stop. I wonder how one man — Adolf Hitler then, Russian President Vladimir Putin now — is still able to start a war.

This is what seemingly all egomaniac dictators want — to subjugate nations using imprisonment and violence. It appears to be human nature, just as it is with most animal species on Earth — attack and devour.

However, humans have large brains, so why can’t we come up with a system to stop dictators before they attempt to start wars? This question must be on the minds of millions of people right now. Surely our world can be run more successfully than this.


No one this day and age should ever be contemplating war, especially since humanity reached the capability to destroy itself in the 1950s. The human race needs to stop and think. Putin needs to stop.

Our planet is the only place we have to live, so we need to manage it better.

Patricia Mace, Los Angeles


To the editor: Putin has, like all autocrats, read his own press releases too closely. He has blundered into a dangerous invasion of a sovereign country. The Ukrainians will make him pay.

This is not Hungary in 1956, when the Soviet Army repressed a rebellion. The Ukrainians are well-armed, their citizenry is well-armed, and they have a taste of a 30-year-old democracy they will not give up easily.

They may not prevail in the short run, as Russia’s military is gigantic. But they will bleed the Russian occupiers just as the Afghans did.

Russians themselves will not be happy with Putin’s thinly-explained aggression. Protests will strike up and soldiers themselves may rebel. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, is already beefing up forces surrounding the country, the very thing Putin is trying to stave off. All of it is terribly self-defeating for Russia.

Meanwhile, with a democratic tradition that predates not only Russia, but most of the West (the 11th century veche bell gathered citizens in Kyiv for elections and laws), Ukraine knows what it is fighting for. Pray for them. And make Putin pay in every way but our own counter-invasion.

Gregory Orfalea, Tarzana


To the editor: Ukraine should not have given up its nukes.

When the Soviet Union fell in 1991, Ukraine had the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal on its territory. When Ukrainian-Russian negotiations on removing these weapons broke down in 1993, the U.S. engaged in a trilateral process.

The result was the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, under which Ukraine agreed to transfer the nuclear warheads to Russia for elimination. Ukraine received security assurances from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia.

When Russia occupied and annexed Crimea in 2014, the Russian foreign ministry said that the 1994 security assurances “were given to the legitimate government of Ukraine but not to the forces that came to power following the coup d’etat.”

I have not heard anyone mention the Budapest Memorandum during the current crisis. So what is Russia’s excuse now? Nobody disputes that the current government of Ukraine was legitimately elected.

The U.S. and the U.K. must fulfill their promises to Ukraine if they are ever to be trusted again by any nation. Provide Ukraine with real weapons to defend itself. Apply the most punishing sanctions on Putin, and his inner circle of billionaire enablers must pay for this action, which will cause thousands of deaths and years of suffering.

G.A. Eidelman, Los Angeles


To the editor: There is no doubt U.S. economic sanctions can be a powerful tool. Countries on the receiving end of these penalties can see their exports curtailed, access to lending restricted, and reserves in foreign banks blocked.

Economic pain, however, isn’t the objective. Sanctions are meant to convince a target to change its conduct. The prevailing assumption in U.S. policy circles is that the greater the economic pain, the more likely a target will eventually succumb to U.S. demands.

History, though, demonstrates sanctions rarely result in the policy concessions the U.S. is seeking, most of which are maximalist.

North Korea is still a nuclear weapons state. Iran is still enriching uranium with advanced centrifuges. Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro is still in power. And Russia just invaded Ukraine.

Sanctions, in other words, aren’t a panacea. They work best when tied to realistic policy objectives, attached to a multilateral framework, and when the target is confident that behavior change will result in economic relief. Otherwise, they are merely an exercise in virtue signaling.

Daniel DePetris, New Rochelle, N.Y.

The writer is a fellow at Defense Priorities.


To the editor: The Kremlin said its soldiers would be carrying out only peacekeeping functions in eastern Ukraine. The GOP said the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection was legitimate political discourse. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said he was holding his breath when he was photographed unmasked at SoFi Stadium.

Do they really think we are this stupid?

Bette Tang, Chatsworth


To the editor: Putin is invading Ukraine as President Biden effectively looks away. Taiwan will be next. Chinese President Xi Jinping has met and measured Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and found them toothless.

The U.S. now looks like a refuge for the likes of Neville Chamberlain and other gullible cowards. Shame on us for abandoning another democracy.

Patrick Bright, Los Angeles