Bild: Revival of old fear: Returning to the Cold War anxiety. , Plans to reintroduce conscription further fuel fear of population Bild: public domain

The latest proposition of reintroducing conscription in case of an attack on NATO ties in with a number of other measures planned by the German Government, such as encouraging the population to store goods and water or to curb civil liberties by introducing a ban on Burqas. These developments seem to represent a return to the mentality during the Cold War.

It is not a return of the binary world order but rather the return of the mind set during the Cold War: Politicians again create an atmosphere of fear and alarm. They stress the danger of an imminent attack – not by the Russians, mind you, but rather by terrorists. While the enemy has changed, the geographic location seems to be the same: Danger is lurking in the east.

To prepare for attacks, the Bundesregierung encourages people to store canned goods and water. However, not only the population but the government as well should be prepared for an attack. To some (right wing) politicians, the adequate way to bolster up national defence is to call for the reintroduction of conscription. This is another indication for the return of the Cold War mind set, where the danger came from a large Russian army willing to invade the Federal Republic of Germany. To counter this threat, a large, well equipped army was a necessity.

Increased anxiety

The situation has drastically changed, however. Danger no longer comes from large armies but from small groups of dedicated people willing to give their lives for their cause. Against this, a large army is ineffective. Thus, to call for the reintroduction of conscription is an anachronistic move. It also needlessly increases the anxiety of the population since popular reasoning is: “If politicians call for such drastic measures, there must be danger afoot.”

Storing goods, planning to reintroduce conscription and curbing civil liberties point towards the return of a Cold War in the minds of the citizens. And this mind set could easily be exploited by radicals – which is why we must remember to remain alert and watchful but not give in to fear and panic-mongering.

Gastautor :Jan Freytag


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