By Robert Reich
The waitperson where I had breakfast this morning broke down in tears over Ukraine. “I just don’t know what to do,” she said.
She’s not alone. I feel the same way. You probably do, too.
That one tyrant can cause this much human suffering defies whatever progress we assumed civilization had made since Hitler’s rise almost a century ago. That Putin can wreak such havoc on innocent people, seemingly unconstrained by others in Russia’s government, makes a mockery of modern ideas about governance in even totalitarian regimes.
That he has control over a nuclear stockpile capable of annihilating much of humanity lays bare — even more starkly than does climate change — how far humanity has fallen behind in the primal race between technology and survival.
But bear in mind several encouraging things. The rich nations of the world that still practice democracy are exercising a unity of resolve not seen in decades. Thankfully as well, we in the United States have as president a person who is sane, thoughtful, experienced, and even-tempered. Can you imagine where we’d be with the former guy?
Beyond this, there is no reason to suppose that the grim calculus behind “mutually-assured destruction,” which has so far prevented a nuclear holocaust, has changed.
Finally, by all accounts Putin is not having an easy time of it. The people of Ukraine are mounting a fierce resistance. He cannot “win” this war. Even if he establishes a puppet government there, the resistance will continue.
So what can you do to help Ukraine? Four things.
1. First, you can contribute to Ukrainian relief efforts. Here are organizations I trust:
— Ukraine Crisis Fund. The international humanitarian group is providing food, water and other items to families fleeing violence in Ukraine. Contribute here.
— Doctors without Borders. Staffers with the medical relief organization remain in Ukraine and are “seeking ways to respond to the medical and humanitarian needs as the conflict evolves.” Offer support here.
— ICRC. The Swiss-based organization is supporting the work of the Ukrainian Red Cross in helping those impacted by the war. Donate to the ICRC.
— Keep Ukraine’s Media Going is a GoFundMe campaign for journalists around Ukraine that also aims to help reporters relocate and continue their work from neighboring countries. Donations can be made here.
2. Second, you can write your members of Congress expressing your view that the United States should sanction Russian oil and gas, and that you are willing to make the financial sacrifice of higher prices at gas pumps and for home heating oil that will almost certainly result.
3. Third, you can urge your members of Congress to open wide America’s borders to Ukrainians fleeing Putin’s war, and help them transport themselves and their families here.
4. Fourth and finally, whatever your political persuasion, you can put aside your anger and frustration with Americans who disagree with you on other issues and recognize our shared commitment to democracy and human rights and our mutual loathing for the murderous rampage we are witnessing in Ukraine. Bearing witness to this calamity and unambiguously condemning it should, at the very least, be something we can all agree on.