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Needed: Political Will to End the Violence in Ukraine & in our Health System

February 18, 2023

Summary: A Russian opponent of the war in Ukraine calls for the cease-fire that will stop the killing and permit finding a solution. We need the political will to end the ongoing deaths of untold thousands, and implement an enduring solution. Just like we need to reach single payer.

Stop the Killing
The Nation
February 9, 2023
By Gregory Yavlinsky

The war in Ukraine has been going on for almost a year. During this time, thousands of people have died on both sides, entire cities have been destroyed, and millions of people have become refugees.

But now, before our eyes, preparations for even larger-scale military action are in full swing. And all the key players—Moscow, Kiev, Washington, Brussels, NATO, and along with them the crowds of militaristic fans sitting in cafés and restaurants, hotels and cozy apartments, as well as numerous Internet media outlets—are all demanding the continuation of hostilities, fantasizing about victories, takeovers, and breakthroughs, agitating for new offensives.

Almost no one understands—or is afraid to say out loud—that the dangers are growing very seriously and the continuation of military action has no positive outlook. There is none!

Many territorial conflicts are known to have no end. There is only one successful example of territorial peace: the European Union. The idea accepted by all members of the European Union that human life, human dignity and human rights are valued higher than any national boundaries has become the guarantee of peace in Europe.

Sooner or later, this is what Russia, Ukraine and Belarus will come to—peaceful coexistence with each other and with other European countries. There is no alternative way to peace. But this way is complex and long.

What should be done now? Stop it! Everything else is a stupid and very dangerous illusion.

Declare a cease-fire. Stop killing people!

A cease fire is a political demand, the realization of which depends entirely on the willingness and understanding of the people making the decisions. In practice, it can only be implemented if at least Putin, Zelensky, Biden, and the EU and NATO leadership are willing to do so. But the problem is that none of them is willing right now. To date, all sides are intent on continuing large-scale hostilities, mistakenly counting on a military victory that is beyond anyone’s reach in the current climate. We must therefore insist: A cease-fire is necessary! If this does not happen, the consequences will be catastrophic and most likely, as already mentioned, irreversibly destructive.

And the main thing is that we will never get back people who are dying hourly in this catastrophe: not 18-month-old Makar and 15-year-old Anya from Dnipro, not 5-year-old Milana from Donetsk, not 9-year-old Ivan and 8-year-old Nina from Yeisk.

It is perfectly clear that all this has to stop. Everyone. And only after that should we try to talk. The main thing is that during this time people won’t be killed.

This is the only way to discuss territorial issues, borders, and movement of troops. Then diplomacy will also be needed—tough, difficult, with failures and limitations. We are in a situation where we are left with either bad options or even worse ones. The good options are gone now.

But there is still an option that can be avoided without further colossal casualties—that is, an immediate cessation of hostilities. And the demand to use this option must now be made by everyone who does not want to kill innocent people and does not want this to be done on their behalf. To make their position known by all available means.

Shout on every corner: Come to your senses! Stop!

Grigory Yavlinsky is the founder and leader of the Yabloko Party, the only party in Russia to protest the war and call for peace.

Comment by: Don McCanne

Why can’t we seem to get our policy and our politics in order? Policy-wise, we have demonstrated that a well-designed single payer system, an improved Medicare For All, could provide high quality care for everyone in the nation while reducing our health care costs. Yet our politics are screwed up enough such that the chairman of our Senate HELP Committee, Bernie Sanders, lacks the support of all Republicans and a significant proportion of Democrats for single payer and is having to resort to much more modest incremental reform proposals.

Where do we stand as far as politics and policy on the Russian military invasion of Ukraine? It seems that our policy should be to end the killing: the tragic killing of both the young Ukrainian and Russian soldiers and the tragic killing of the Ukrainian citizens, young and old alike, not to mention the extensive property destruction. But what is our politics? We are sending them more tanks to increase the killing? Shouldn’t the politics be directed to all efforts to end the killing? Shouldn’t the politics be more narrowly directed to obtaining a humane response from Vladimir Putin and his political gaggle?

Where should that political power come from? Us, the people. We need to let our president know that we want the killing in Ukraine to stop! Sending killing machines is not the way to stop killing. Providing political support to those who should have support and political opposition to those who should be opposed should help provide long range solutions, but we do need that immediate cease fire that Yavlinsky is calling for! No more killing!

But then, as we have been saying over and over again, we need to get our own politics right. We have the policy we need in the form of the single payer Medicare For All model, but we still need to be sure that the public at large has an excellent understanding of the clear benefits of the policies of the single payer model so that they will create the unmistakable political demand that Congress and the Administration cannot ignore: a health care system that is universal, comprehensive, affordable, equitable, efficient, with improved health outcomes for all.

On either front, national health or war, we should not be having people dying needlessly when the problem is merely a failure of national political application of appropriate national policies. Let’s get our politics right; it’s a matter of life and death!

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