Opinion: Do we try to prevent World War III, or is it already here?

Ukrainian forces stand next to a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine.
Ukrainian forces stand next to a mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine, where witnesses have reported numerous bodies of civilians after a retreat by Russian troops.
(Rodrigo Abd / Associated Press)

As the war in Ukraine continues to outlast what most commentators predicted would be a lightning-quick Russian victory (at least in the short term), and as the magnitude of the atrocities evidently committed by Vladimir Putin’s forces against civilians becomes clear, our letter writers are grappling with the consequences of the arms-length American posture toward this conflict. Increasingly, they’re also wrestling with what greater action by U.S. forces would look like.

For some readers, that involves clearly delineating between the effects of what the U.S. and its NATO allies are doing now, and the possible global catastrophe that military intervention might create. Others agree with fellow letter writers (and there are a lot of them) calling on President Biden to send in the troops. Some are weighing America’s moral authority as Biden accuses his Russian counterpart of committing war crimes, looking back to the atomic bombings of Japan at the end of World War II.

What we’re seeing here, I think, is careful consideration among our readers of the grim realities of war, where there are no good options, and where calls to do more grow louder.



To the editor: I am horrified by what is happening in Ukraine. I was horrified by what happened in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Korea.

But to those who call for a U.S. military intervention, I have one question: Are you ready for a nuclear war and what it means to humanity and the Earth? Because Putin indicated he was ready.

Would it not be smarter to allow Putin, in spite of his crimes, some kind of acceptable out? We could convince Ukraine to abandon its east and south temporarily. I know it is an awfully hard-to-accept solution, but Putin will not last forever. Things can eventually be made right.

This is not the moment to let emotions take over. We need to stop the bloodbath in Ukraine, and we need to avoid a nuclear war, which combined with climate change would doom humanity.

This is not 1914 nor 1939. Our modern weapons can destroy the Earth many times over.

Marie Matthews, San Pedro


To the editor: Two letters calling for more action by the U.S. mirrored my sentiments on Ukraine. I cringe with each new verbal “defend every inch” and “war criminal” outburst from Biden without a forceful physical response.


Biden must summon Churchillian leadership to lead NATO to enable Ukraine to fully restore its original (pre-2014) eastern border. Anything less will label U.S.-led NATO and the free world as impotent as we suffer further “half-nation” grabs with atrocities.

World War III is already here, and we cannot afford to lose. Biden must leverage the existence of our own nuclear weapon deterrent to call Putin’s bluff and lead NATO to carry Ukraine toward total victory. This will include U.S. and NATO fighter-escorted airlift, air superiority throughout Ukraine, continued but accelerated resupply of advanced weapons and sustenance from land and sea.

Powerful others are watching. At this moment, the western world’s freedom precariously depends on Ukraine’s brave fighters and their country remaining whole.

J. Philip Barnes, San Pedro


To the editor: I would like to clarify for one reader the difference between the massacres of Ukrainian civilians by Russian soldiers and the dropping of atomic bombs by the U.S. in World War II.

Ukraine represents absolutely no threat to Russia, and the latter invaded Ukraine under false pretexts. The U.S. in World War II had been attacked by Japan.


The letter writer need only ascertain the U.S. casualties at Tarawa, Iwo Jima and Okinawa — to name only three battle sites — to determine what the costs in U.S., Japanese civilian and Japanese soldiers’ lives would have been had the war continued until 1946 with an invasion of the Japanese home islands.

The dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 put a quick end to the slaughter.

Charles Vorsanger, Pasadena


To the editor: It has been reported that the majority of Russians support Putin. His propaganda machine has closed dissenting media and jailed dissenters. The Russian population is insulated from the atrocities committed in their name.

But is our propaganda machine so different?

The majority of Republicans believe that the 2020 election was stolen, culminating in an insurrection against our government on Jan. 6, 2021. Lies about voter fraud gave impetus to voter suppression laws across the country. Women are losing their right to abortion in conservative states. The LGBTQ community is at risk.

How many lives were lost because of lies about COVID-19? Conspiracy theories still circulate about the 9/11 attacks and the deep state. And, the power grifters in Washington do nothing.


Ukrainians know what it means to fight for their freedom and democracy. Meanwhile, Americans watch as our democracy slips away.

D.H. Sloan, Silver Lake


To the editor: The photos of the atrocities in Bucha, Ukraine, and other cities are heartbreaking. Russian officials maintain the photos are all fake and a “well-directed show.”

Ukraine should insist that these officials come see the sites for themselves. If they are afraid to go into the war — I mean, “special military operation” — Ukraine can assure them of their safety by sheltering them in their choice of hospitals, high-rise apartment complexes, malls or a building with the word “children” written on its rooftop.

Martin Plost, Rancho Palos Verdes