This may be my last blog entry
Okay, that's probably an exaggeration. I am neither in the Ukraine nor am I part of the Russian troops, so unless something goes extremely sideways within the next few weeks, I'm probably fine for now.
The reason for this drastic, probably a bit clickbaity headline is a serious one, though. The very thinly veiled threat of Putin to use his (to be fair, so far rather underutilised nuclear arsenal) did trigger some deeply ingrained fears in me. I grew up in the 80's (Born 1976) and as a rather astute (If I do say so myself) and curious young child, I unfortunately was a bit more influenced by the cold war antics of the day when a nuclear meltdown was essentially on the table on a day to day basis than you would think. So deeply ingrained were those fears, in fact, that my subconcious transported me directly into the centre of a nuclear explosion one morning in a dream when in fact, the only thing that happened was that some rather noisy construction work had started on the roof I was directly sleeping under. I was probably 14 or so and the risk of a sudden nuclear war was suddenly very low after the collapse of the soviet union and the german reuinfication. Still.
All goes to say, of course I am relatively safe here in Germany, all things considered, especially in contrast to my Ukrainian brothers and sisters but that doesn't mean that this doesn't trigger traumata in many of us born before the official end of the cold war.
The full on invasion of the Ukraine by Russia, a clear breach of international law and a couple of existing treaties, once again, changed everything.
Ah, ye olde militarism, can't say I missed ya
My country, Germany, usually obsessed with being as frugal as possible, suddenly found 100 Billion EUR to throw at our mismanaged and especially mis-consulted military. And our parliament, instead of bemoaning the necessities of war, gives itself standing ovations, as if every other member also sits on the board of directors of one of our countless weapons manufacturers (Actually, now that I think about that, that's probably closer to truth than I want to admit) or, worse, actually looks forward to finally show the world again that Germany is a strong country with a strong military.
Sorry, I had to puke and some of it got into my keyboard, it took a while to clean up.
The only silver lining seems to be that there seem to be some (finally) understanding that being completely dependent for energy sources (Coal, Oil, Gas) on a, shall we say slightly less democratic country like Russia is probably not a good idea and that renewables are actually a pretty clever idea to get rid of those dependencies.
Apart from that the new military budget, paired with the so called “debt brake” which disallows the state to increase the debt beyond certain limits makes for a rather bleak outlook in terms of investments into a more climate friendly future. Pretty sure all those new tanks and war planes we'll be getting will be hydrogen powered, right? Right?
Get to the fecken point, man!
After a lot of rambling, fuled by my very odd combination of a epidemic induced tiredness, excessive fear for our future (a nuclear winter might counteract global warming for some time, maybe?) and white hot rage, let's try to bring this to a point, because a point I wanted to make.
In the last couple of years, political commentators have often bemoaned the obvious lack of long term thinking in modern democratic politics. The (only recently ended) era of Chancellor Merkel was pretty much this very short term thinking and focus on reactive policing personified.
We have always said, that with the climate crisis, this short term thinking will fall on our feet at some point. Of course, this has already happened almost everywhere in the world, with Floods and Fires, Hurricanes, etc, but it is clear that a bit of global strategic, long term thinking could have prevented a lot of all of these terrible things.
To me, the Russian war on Ukraine and the limits of our space of possibilities to help Ukraine is also a result of that.
We could have made ourself less dependent on Russian energy sources a long time ago. Nord Stream 2, the gas pipeline now completed but probably doomed to never actually go into service (don't get me wrong, that's probably for the better, but what a waste of time and resources) is one of those examples where at every step someone should have said “No, this is not a great idea”.
Diamonds are an oligarchs best friend
Of course, the short term thinking was also paired with a healthy dose of greed (or should we just call it Capitalism?) as one could witness in the early talks about the sanctions against Russia where the dependencies on oligarch money became painfully clear – Milan wanted to be able to still sell overpriced bags, Antwerpen wanted to please be able to continue to sell Diamonds.
Do we need more lenses?
My friends and I often remarked during the pandemic how the coronavirus created a sort of lens through which faulting in our societies suddenly became visible (with the obviously terrible state of our health care work being the most drastic example).
It is both my hope and my fear that the next weeks shaped by this travesty of a war caused by a hurt ego of a very small man and his nationalist “thinkers” will create a lens that will inform our thinking and our actions for a very long time. Seeing the usually well buried but obviously not irradicated militarism awaken with such force in my home country does make me fear we might not only learn the correct lessons. It is our responsibility as citizens, as humans, to watch this closely and do everything we can to keep us from tumbling down the slippery slope that small man has so artfully created for us.
Glory to Ukraine!
All of that being said: A country led by a man who once played a piano with his penis on national television and who was the Ukrainian voice of Paddington Bear should be in a good position against any aggressor. And for once I am not even joking. Slava Ukraini!