Should Ukraine Consider an Armistice?

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  • ‘Obscene Savagery’ Against Israeli Women
  • Private Equity and Health Care
  • Capitalism Is to Blame for High Housing Costs
  • Birds? Yes. Birdbrains? No.

Credit…Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

To the Editor:

Re “Ukraine Doesn’t Need All Its Territory to Defeat Putin,” by Serge Schmemann (Opinion, Dec. 28):

Mr. Schmemann is right that “true victory for Ukraine is to rise from the hell of the war as a strong, independent, prosperous and secure state, firmly planted in the West.”

The road to that victory, however, will not be through an armistice that freezes the invading forces’ gains in place — even if Vladimir Putin were prepared to accede to such an outcome (and that is a very big “if”).

A meaningful armistice that secures Ukraine’s well-earned sovereignty will be achieved only if Ukraine deals the invading forces a series of decisive blows that impress upon them the futility of continuing their misguided war.

The Ukrainian people, their political leadership and their armed forces have demonstrated truly impressive resolve. When the U.S. Congress returns this month, Democrats and Republicans must overcome their differences, act with renewed resolve and approve their now-delayed arms package for Ukraine.

This is the language that Mr. Putin will understand. It will prove to be the only road to a lasting peace.

Geoffrey Berlin
Kyiv, Ukraine

To the Editor:

It is undeniable that the war in Ukraine has devolved into a stalemate. But the solution should not be to attempt a long-term armistice, as Serge Schmemann argues. Doing so might mean less bloodshed and hardship for Ukrainians in the short term, but any agreement that cedes Ukrainian territory to Russia woefully misreads the geopolitical climate.

Vladimir Putin bided his time for eight years after taking Crimea in 2014 before attempting a full-blown invasion of Ukraine. An agreement that would increase the size of Russia and allow him to regroup for another potential invasion would play directly into his hands. Furthermore, it would give him the opportunity to claim a victory and save face domestically despite much of his invasion having been a failure.

Finally, taking the road of appeasement for the purpose of short-term political gain has proved time and again throughout history not to be a viable option. The united front maintained by the West in response to the invasion of Ukraine has been effective, and the United States and its allies should continue to support Ukraine until the geographic borders are back to their pre-invasion positions.

George Willmott

To the Editor:

Re “Russia Recaptures Land as Ukraine Scales Back” (news article, Dec. 29):

It’s no mystery why Ukraine’s military effort may be stymied at the moment. The military assistance provided throughout this war by U.S. and European allies has been too little, too late, and sometimes not the type that Ukraine urgently needed. So countless Ukrainians have died in a war unnecessarily drawn out.

Despite this, Ukraine has managed to do the seemingly impossible: seriously degrade the Russian military and take back half of the territory brutally seized and occupied by Russian forces since February 2022.

Now, even the continuation of any American assistance to Ukraine is in doubt. Shamefully, Republicans in Congress have been holding aid to Ukraine hostage to their demands regarding U.S. border policy for months. Ukraine’s very survival hangs in the balance.

The situation in Ukraine can be turned around, but it starts with us. If Ukraine has fought well and valiantly with this insufficient supply of equipment and ammunition, then a very good outcome seems within reach if we finally give Ukraine what it needs to win.

Elizabeth L. Merrick
Somerville, Mass.

‘Obscene Savagery’ Against Israeli Women

Gal Abdush’s parents, center, and her sisters. The photograph on the wall shows Gal and her husband, Nagi. The couple had been together since they were teenagers.

To the Editor:

Re “‘Screams Without Words’: Sexual Violence on Oct. 7” (front page, Dec. 31):

On reading the horrific “Screams Without Words,” I recalled what my 6-year-old grandson recently told our family after an older girl recited to him a litany of abuse she experienced at the hands of her father: “I don’t want to know these things, but I don’t want to forget them.”

The knowledge of the obscene savagery these Israeli women suffered provoked in this 80-year-old reader both this sense of an innocence lost and the obligation to remember. Once I began reading, I could not stop.

How could humans commit such atrocities against other humans? Mirit Ben Mayor, an Israeli police chief superintendent, states that she sees a combination of two ferocious forces, “the hatred for Jews and the hatred for women.”

It is the seeming ineradicability of these two primal forces that leaves me seething and in despair.

Barbara Gibbons
Strafford, Pa.

Private Equity and Health Care

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

To the Editor:

“Private Equity Ownership Linked to Hospital Errors” (The Upshot, Dec. 27) reported on the JAMA study showing poor performance in hospitals bought by private equity.

When private equity firms invest in hospitals, clinics or physician practices, they do so for only one reason: to make a high return on investment. To do this, they can either increase revenue or reduce costs.

Revenue is increased by making clinicians work harder, perform more lucrative procedures that can be justified, even if not truly needed, and/or raising prices. Numerous studies have shown that health care costs go up when private equity firms are involved.

They may also try to reduce costs by substituting lower-paid and less qualified personnel: aides instead of nurses.

My view was stated by the title of my paper recently published in The American Journal of Medicine: “Private Equity and Medicine: A Marriage Made in Hell.”

Edward P. Hoffer
Marion, Mass.
The writer, a doctor, is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard.

Capitalism Is to Blame for High Housing Costs

Cameron Ambrosy with her husband, Sammy, at their rental in St. Paul, Minn. They know that it will be years before they can afford to buy a house.Credit…Drew Anthony Smith for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “High Costs of Housing Could Hurt Biden in ’24” (Business, Dec. 16):

The cost of housing in the United States has indeed risen much faster than any other economic indicator. But for voters to blame President Biden (or any occupant of the White House) for this problem displays a serious misunderstanding of our economic system and a not-too-solid grasp of civics.

Our capitalist system, entailing speculation and the basic rule of supply and demand, is to blame for high housing costs. As long as Americans maintain their love affair with owning single-family homes and their irrational fear of socialism, we will never have a system that provides housing for all at prices all can afford.

The affordable rental housing described in The New York Times Magazine’s excellent article about rental housing in Vienna (“The Renters’ Utopia,” May 28) will forever remain a distant dream.

Jenny Skoble
Half Moon Bay, Calif.

Birds? Yes. Birdbrains? No.

Credit…Jeroen Zewald/Goffin Lab

To the Editor:

In “Culinary Cockatoos: These Pollies Want a Cracker but Only After It Gets a Soak” (Science Times, Dec. 19), Emily Anthes points to the dunking of pieces of hard bread in water by Goffin cockatoos to soften it before eating. This behavior was observed in the Goffin Lab in Vienna, and said to be innovative.

While it might well be innovative, it’s not unique. Last winter, my wife and I watched with fascination as blue jays took frozen bread cubes from our lawn, brought them to the bird bath, and dunked them to thaw and soften them before swallowing.

This happened at several different times on successive days. Birdbrains, indeed.

Ched Bradley
Rockville, Md.

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