Statement EES President Dr Ingo Friedrich, July 15, 2022
The question of all questions is currently: "When and with what result will the war in Ukraine end?". Since this basic question cannot really be answered, all the problems that have arisen in the run-up to and in the context of this war must still and nevertheless be solved, and we must all be prepared for the worst-case scenario of a long-lasting, multi-year dispute.
The first thing to mention is rising inflation. The answer to this truly gigantic challenge must be: The state and citizens must use all instruments and seize all ideas that promise to contain this scourge. On the part of the state, these include interest rate policy, support for the needy and limiting public budget debt. And private individuals, e.g. companies and private households, must take up all savings ideas and implement them in an individually adapted way. Inflation has a "regressive" effect, e.g. it hits the poorer sections of the population more than the wealthy section of the population.
Second, of course, is the scarcity of energy. The measures to be taken here are the subject of much public discussion and need not be discussed further.
The discussions about which political-strategic measures (which weapons, which strategic goods, etc.) tend to prolong or shorten the war must primarily be conducted in the diplomatic and internal parliamentary bodies with knowledge of intelligence information. Saying something "right" on these topics with imperfect information is quite unlikely.
On the other hand, there is too little public analysis of the psychological burden on citizens caused by fears about the future, worries and high expectations of having to make the right decisions now. This also creates an intellectual burden, because it is so difficult to judge which measure is the right one, e.g. heat pump or oil, electric car or combustion engine again, savings in funds or real estate, change of career now or later, business investments now or no more, etc.
All in all, the situation is that practically all citizens, namely the so-called "elites" as well as the "normal people", are being asked to exert immense psychological and intellectual effort, which we have not known since the Second World War. It is, so to speak, a gigantic stress test as to whether Western societies, namely the liberal democracies, are still able to cope with such a challenging crisis situation, especially since it cannot yet be said when the whole problem can be expected to end.
The state alone can never do it. This task can only be mastered if large parts of the people from all areas but also the media including social media participate, for example by providing serious and helpful information. There really is no longer any room for old-style trench warfare based on the motto "my individual interests are the only decisive factor".
In this "test situation" - as with all challenges - there is also an opportunity, namely the opportunity for renewal and strengthening of the Western world.
Let's be honest, the previous reputation of politicians like Trump, Johnson or Erdogan was not a sign of the Western world's future viability. On the other hand, the exaggerated identity discussions, including the disinviting of unpopular professors at the universities, and the whole exaggerated gender and asterisk discussion were also not a sign of the right setting of priorities.
All in all, there is an urgent need to "disarm" in the social discussion and to practice more composure and tolerance towards other opinions. This is where the stress test demanded of all of us today offers the chance to introduce a bit of normalcy into the heated and personal disputes, once one recognizes where the really important problems lie. In particular, this statement also applies to the previous leading nation, the USA! The almost brutal division of society there does not bode well and must be overcome in view of the Western world and the dimension of the acute problems.
Let's hope that we as Europe and the Western world will pass the historic stress test called the Ukraine war, and emerge from this crisis stronger and not weaker.