We don’t go it alone

Prelude: My French friend with whom I wanted to meet this morning, discussing work over coffee, got sick. Sending him a “Get Well”, and using the time alone with my coffee for a piece I wanted to “put out there”.

There have been many articles and comments in the media about an expectation towards Germany to “lead”. Same on the side of politics. Whether related to States bordering the Ukraine, Belarus, and the Russian Federation, or the discussions and reflections in the U.S. media, and elsewhere. Commentators were quick to point to a perceived, or alleged unwillingness or inability on the side of the German Chancellor to make a decisive move. In the most recent case, as we all remember, it is about supplying the Ukraine with German made main battle tanks. Before that, it was about medium sized battle tanks (like the “Marder”), or about armoured vehicles, or about defensive air systems. Of course, there also was the unfortunate communication at the beginning, helping the Ukraine by sending 5000 protective helmets. And yes, there is an embarrassing element in that. In the scheme of things I wanted to quickly write about, the last one is collateral damage, or an anectotal side story. However, even this unfortunate communication by the former Defense Minister of Germany had a positive impact: Waking up to a new reality is not an easy thing to do. Hawkish thinking will have a home-run. Those who cling to an effort thinking about peace as it was before things changed, they will become defensive. Ruptures will loom, and these can be exploited by malicious actors, inside a system (extremists and enemies of the constitutional foundation of a system), inside a framework of collaboration and cooperation, (of course I am talking about the EU and about NATO), and outside (like the Russian Federation, but not only).

Only history will tell us whether we handle things cautiously, or too cautiously. But the principle we follow is that we don’t go it alone.

I am not involved into policymaking and strategies how to handle the situation which includes a War of Aggression against the Ukraine. But I see this principle in every aspect of my own work, and in every aspect of German governance that I can reasonably make conclusions about, on basis of what I see in publicly available information. I believe this is more than anecdotal evidence for that this is a principle of German policy within the context of all things E.U, all things NATO, and all things U.N.


Where I can simply state that I know we do it this way is within the context of our support to an initiative of the six jurisdictions of the Western Balkans to come to grips with all aspects related to Small Arms and Light Weapons. I see this “DNA” reflected in everything, how we support ownership, how we support it in close collaboration with the Regional Cooperation Council RCC, together with France in a so-called Franco-German initiative which sits at the roots of this support since 2014 within the “Berlin Process”, and how we do it together with all relevant actors inside the European Union, namely the European Union External Action Service, the European Commission’s Directorate General for Neighborhood, and the European Commission’s Directorate General for Migration & Home Affairs. And on the other side of the equation, how we support our jointness by empowering implementing organisations, be them part of the United Nations family (UNDP and UNODC), be them part of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe OSCE, be them structures inside NATO.

The above complexity just in order to demonstrate how complex a process in which we don’t go it alone can be. There is, on all levels, a tremendous effort behind the principle of not going it alone. And much of it is almost invisible to the public, hungry for bad news. But without revealing internal stuff, it looks like we are getting assessments confirming the success sitting behind practically applying principles such as real assistance to others, and not to go it alone.


Allow me also to make a brief point on what some commentators refer to as some historic reasons for this German attitude. They talk about the German history of how we came out of our own darkest times, the most shameful parts of German history, the Holocaust. Which, after all, was the horror after the Nazis managed to wrestle control away from the previous system of governance. Nazi Germany was the product of an inside job destroying the Republic of Weimar, including a successful brazen attack on the Weimar Constitution. In my senior police education, I was once asked to write up the similarities and differences of the Weimar Constitution with the “German Grundgesetz”, the basic law we gave ourselves after Word War II, which we kept open through a preamble in which we promised to never give up on re-unification, and which we then carried over into the German constitution, our basic law, of today. Nutshell: The German basic law is founded on a DNA which can already be found in the Constitution of Weimar, including human and citizen’s rights. Part of the post-Holocaust effort in designing a new basic law was to enshrine provisions making it more difficult, or hopefully even impossible, to hollow it out from the inside.

In all this German “DNA” there is reflection of the responsibility that we promised to ourselves, to victims, and to the World at large, to never allow this happening again.

This is a vital part of our own constitutional immune system against the danger stemming from if power goes rogue. This is why we don’t go it alone.

And to see a practical detail about how serious we are in this, look at this German article in the German news “Tagesschau” from today: “Im Holocaust erlebten ukrainische Juden grenzenlose Grausamkeit” is the title of a piece from today. In German language, the German Tagesschau is reflecting on Babyn Jar, located in Kviev. Over the duration of the German Nazi occupation of the Ukraine, this place suffered from the killing of more than 100.000 Jews by the Nazi regime. It peaked with two days during which at least 33.771 human beings were killed by the German Nazis.

With responsibility, humility, and no hesitation the German news report about this during a time of war in the Ukraine, during a time which includes that Germany has, just two days ago, also agreed to enlarge our already large military assistance to the Ukraine by sending own main battle tanks, and allowing other Nations to send their own German-made Leopard-II-tanks, too.


My work over the past 23 years has brought me to places of mass murder, genocide, and any unthinkable crime against humanity. Not bragging here. But making the point that I witnessed so many efforts to come to terms with that own shameful legacy. Some did well. Visit the genocide memorial in Kigali, Rwanda, for example, like I did on two occasions. Some struggle. Listen to the different voices on the Srebenica genocide, for example. Some deny, and threaten consequences to anyone who begs to differ from the public line of unaccountability. Look at the situation with the Uyghurs in China, or the Armenian genocide early on during the last century.

Taking collective action in the interest of, and service of, peace does not leave any wiggle room for taking own full responsibility, and requires to not going it alone.

That’s what we do.


The picture was taken by myself in May 2019. I was visiting the Dachau Concentration Camp with beloved American, German, and Egyptian friends.

Seeing Deeper

I am opening my blog editor for the first time in more than a month. A few days ago I returned to Belgrade after intense travel. It started with my participation in a series of work-related meetings and conferences in Budva, Montenegro, mid December. Whilst I spent my days with my colleagues in a Hotel Resort on issues supporting the efforts to control all aspects of small arms and light weapons (SALW) in the Western Balkans and South East Europe, I returned to my campervan for the night, where my cat was patiently waiting for me.

I took to the road then for spending time in Germany over the Christmas Season and the New Year’s celebrations. A long road trip along the Croatian coast line, getting into colder weather in Slovenia, snow in Austria and heavy snow in Bavaria. The epic winter scenery in Bavaria didn’t last more than a few days, accompanied by the usual chitchat on air waves, social media and in local bakeries on cold snaps and climate change. Christmas Day I traveled to Berlin, the weather had warmed up, typical grey dark winter weather in late December and early January in Germany. I spent time on work, time with loved ones and with friends, and with myself.

This weekend I returned to Belgrade, also capturing some impressions about two days of road travel through Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, and finally Serbia. 01 January 2023, Croatia entered the Schengen Zone and the Eurozone. For somebody traveling so often, the fact that my first and only border control happened on entering Serbia was a source of excitement. Some of those impressions are available on Youtube (@allovertheplacewithtiggie), I publish little videos on aspects of a lifestyle which I have taken up since now more than three years, including part-time living in a campervan and, since last year, additionally a caravan.

If I wanted, aside of the private side of things, to summarize events and developments I have been following between mid of December and mid of January, I would fail. The complexity of global developments and their related news has been pretty overwhelming.

Yesterday evening I met with a long-time friend for dinner. As always we were catching up on what happened since we saw each other the last time. The mere attempt to focus on a summary account on my side for the past half of a year since we had seen each other left me with a feeling of inferiority: I felt like failing in giving an accurate account of everything that had happened. At the same time I tried to deflate my ego: My ego was trying to get me to talk about everything that had happened through lenses framed by my own interpretation of “reality”, my role in it, and my wish to demonstrate that things I said were very relevant. I’m happy to report that I was able to refrain from that.

At the same time my friend was chatting away against a background of own heavy involvement in his area of work. He is ten years younger than I am, with a professional career still pointing upwards to more, and more responsible, positions. By contrast, my intellectual growth happens within a context of transformation into being somewhat a mentor and an independent consultant, a retired individual with a distinguished career in the past, and with, hopefully, useful previous experience and the ability to turn that experience into strategic advice which helps in contemporary situations. Which constantly forces me to renew my strategic and contextual knowledge because otherwise I would become one of those “dinosaurs” who don’t even realize when people around them shrug their shoulders and turn away, because nothing they hear feels appealing or relevant to them.

That is also why I enjoy meeting so many people of all ages, gender, nationality, cultural belonging, and more. In order to make my advice relevant, it needs to fit into what people think and feel today, and not what people like I thought and felt at the time when I was younger and pursuing an active career, inflating my ego.

All those circumstances which were forming the pillars of my own framework relevant for my work, they have changed. Literally every aspect which I could compare to those circumstances when I worked, as a national senior police officer, and then for twenty years as a United Nations peacekeeper and as a European Union crisis manager in alternating senior functions, they appear to be less visible, less relevant, and increasingly also becoming a subject of a loss of corporate memory. By having a long-term involvement in international aspects of peace&security, I do remember things which other people have forgotten, or which they will never be taught. So I remember that there always were developments which I could see which led to the current state of affairs. But the speed of development of the past three years since I retired, it sped up so much, including erosion, decay and implosion of operational, strategic and political pillars of an architecture which we worked so hard on for many decades. Many of my blog entries deal with aspects of it. Of course, I always also reflect on the underlying DNA of frameworks: The underpinning values.

Some discussions between my friend and me yesterday also dealt with the question whether we correctly assume that those values which form the DNA for our passionate and compassionate attitude also hold true for younger generations. We were doubtful, to some extent. I would add that we, the previous generations, have failed to live some, or many, of these values in a convincing collective way. Why does Greta Thunberg’s sharp words of criticism come to my mind, just as one but very visible example for those who rightfully blame us, the previous generations. And: Will future generations including those who criticise us, be able to act more responsibe? My political roots sit with the generation directly following the German “68er”. We were the wind of change of those days, some of us outside of the system, some of us inside the system. Some went from the outside to the inside. A considerable number of them also played a role in my work, or together with me. All of those are in retirement, at least. Some of them are gone from this life.

But, on the other hand: Who am I to claim that the erosion which I believe to see goes so deep? Since I am not embedded into the organisational framework of national or international institutions any longer, whether in policing, or United Nations peace operations, or European Union crisis management, which insider knowledge of recent years can I use for concluding that things got really bad, in my assessment?

So I sat here over the past days, thinking about what what comes up next in this blog. Or related to other plans on my writing, such as my plan to work on essays. There is so much to say, so much to write about. I felt like if I don’t find a focus for 2023, things remain blurry, without depth, just chatter. My friend and I left yesterday shortly after I had asked “What will be the defining things which we can see for 2023?”. My friend hesitated, and after some silence both of us agreed that we know little, except that likely things will become more difficult, more bellicose, more unstable.

Against this background I quietly sat over lunch today. I let my thoughts calm down and I started writing this title “Seeing Deeper”.

In December 2019, I was invited by the University of Osnabrueck, talking to students on the topic of communication both being used as a weapon, or as a means for political conciliation. Boris Pistorius, then being the Minister of Interior of the German State of Lower Saxony, was addressing the students before me on the same topic. Tomorrow he will be formally appointed as the new German Minister of Defense. I so much wish him luck for this challenging environment.

I came across this memory when contemplating about my friend’s and my discussions yesterday on what we can see, or not, or only partly, or speculate about, related to the information warfare aspects surrounding the larger context in which Russia is conducting a War of Aggression against the Ukraine.

The topic of the talk back in late 2019, communication as a means either to manipulate, to disrupt, to antagonize, or as a means to find common ground and common sense, it is as relevant as the discussion of values on which I embark so often. These days, at the beginning of 2023, whether I like it or not, any effort to keep things together happens in a radically changed environment in which we need to take sides without loosing the ability to find paths and avenues which, at the very least, do not play into the hand of the enemies of values defining the post World War II order.

Enemies? Yes, very much so. Not the Russian people. But for war mongerers under, and including, Vladimir Putin, the scope of their aggression and warfare goes way beyond the Ukraine. Institutions of the post WW II order, organisations such as NATO and the EU, and their constituent States, are being met with open hostility. To put it mildly. We may navigate in order to contain, to limit, physical warfare. We may attempt to avoid becoming party in a war. But efforts attempting to pull us in, or to destabilise, or to disrupt, to weaken, to discredit legitimacy of democracy, to cover any meaningful truth under thick layers of lies, manipulation, and psychological warfare, are countless.

In that, the world definitely has become a very rough place. The system is under attack way beyond the physical war in the Ukraine. Today’s world requires a decisive mindset: We can only work for peace by being clear about red lines. We will make mistakes, of course. We will misjudge, because no perfect judgement in a highly complex and volatile kinetic environment is possible. But we have no time for complacency. We have no time for blurriness. Sometimes we need peacekeepers. Sometimes, the sharp edge requires more than keeping peace. It sometimes means to fight for peace.

And that is why I end, as a peacekeeper in my very heart, with a clear statement: Get these Leopard II tanks into the Ukraine. Now.

And, again: The best of luck, Boris Pistorius. Hopefully you will be able to send the right message off the ramp directly after your taking up duties.


N.B.: On the featured image: The author, almost to the day 22 years ago, in a United Nation’s Police capacity, being introduced into the capabilities of a Leopard II tank, undisclosed location.

Following Up on Gaslighting – Why This Is So Dangerous – About Recent German Police Raids Related to Reichsbuerger

December 04, just four days ago, I wrote “The Reason For Storytelling: If You and I Don’t, Only Others Do – On Gaslighting Taken To a Global Level“. I referred to the outrageous remarks of the 45th President of the United States, with which he called for dissolving the Constitution of the United States. He continues to insist that widespread fraud and manipulation of the elections would have taken the Presidency away from him, claiming that the entire system of U.S. governance, the Democratic Party, and a cabale of secret networks is conspiring against “the people”. Until today he claims to be the rightful winner of the 2020 elections. On that basis he doubled down once more, and not for the last time, ever more eroding values and norms. The result just being a continuation of a discourse on the basis of outrage, and antagonisation. Like on so many occasions before, the world is waking up after such remarks with a new extreme, and because of that also a “new normal”. The next escalation, as always, is just around the corner.

The point of my concern continues to be that any strategy which is just explaining this as a M.O. of a sociopathic narcissistic individual is disregarding the wider picture: Of course a delusional persona with such disorders has no other means at hand. Such a person is simply not able to back down. If allowed, Nr. 45 will be like the Roman Emperor Nero. And I do remember having read that Nr. 45 studied Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”. People wrote about that book on his bedside table. From there, I also remember Hitlers “Beer Hall Putsch” in November 1923. Jailed after this putsch attempt, Hitler wrote “Mein Kampf”. I can’t help but think of January 6, 2021, as a possible prelude to the worse.

I made my choice to consider a red line being crossed a long time ago: January 26, 2017 Nr 45, newly elected to Presidential office, sat in front of TV cameras and said “Torture works“. We know what happened since then, it was just the beginning.

The point is, as said above, that everytime a line is crossed, something unimaginable has become the new order. This reality then permeates into the lifes of many people, not only into the minds of sick extremists, racists, anti-semites, conspiracy theorists. Society at large undergoes a shift in perception. It is there where the responsibility of the many kicks in. Disregarding, denying, ridiculing, minimising, instead of forcefully rejecting, it is the real factor in how previous norms erode.

No doubt, strategic minds on the side of hateful extremists (who are globally networked) know that, and use these tactics to perfection. In the concrete example at hand, the recent cycle started with a dinner of Ye and Fuentes in Mar-El-Lago. Next thing we saw was Nr. 45 throwing smoke grenades of minimising, and pretendiung innocence. Next thing were even more awful public statements from Ye, and Fuentes, in Alex Jones’ show. After which Nr. 45 then moved to calling for the dissolution of the Constitution. Finally, what we saw after that, was another interview of Ye, calling on Jewish people to forgive Hitler. He did so in a conversation with Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes. If you google it, you also see what I said earlier: The number of hits in mainstream news where this was reported is huge. Another “new normal”. And this, let me be clear here, with a statement that, in Germany, would lead to prosecutors investigating a possible crime. To me, a sentence like this one is almost unspeakable. I am horrified, and I hope that Ye will pay a price for this. Unfortunately, I am not so optimistic. Instead, let me apologize to Jewish people, and assure we will undertake everything to not allow the real Holocaust being forgotten, minimised, denied, or justified.

The cool-minded analysis, meanwhile, needs to focus on the larger implications of norms being shifted. John Bolton is a former National Security Adviser to Nr. 45. I know him from his time as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Whilst I disagree with his rude Republican hawkishness which was painfully making life at the U.N. difficult during his Ambassadorship, I deeply credit his analytical skills. December 05, 2022, in an interview with NBC News, he called the former president’s declaration “an existential threat to the republic itself“. If you listen to the interview, everything counts, including what he only indicates: That, if Republican leadership does not denounce this behavior in full, consequences for democracy will be serious.


Why am I focusing on U.S. politics again?

Because, as I wrote in my earlier article, this gaslighting is working like a global set of echo-chambers. It reverberates, it transmits energy, it receives energy, and if the extremist movement manages to create something like “synergy in chaos”, it constitutes a global threat to democracy. May be the most severe we ever witnessed since World War II.

That is why I said: “So, one of my hypothetical thoughts is about whether there will be people on the far-right in Germany who think about how to establish a narrative that the German constitutional order is subject to removal from within, by justifying their resistance in saying that the government and the establishment is the enemy of what the Forefathers, the Founders of our Constitution, meant. This is not far-fetched, and it is the same logic.”

I drew a comparison to how post-WW II-Germany incorporated provisions into our German constitution in order to protect the Constitution from enemies within. In doing that, I referred to how the Nazis managed to overthrow the Constitution of Weimar, and I also linked a song “Kristallnaach”, performed by the German Rock Band “BAP” in the 1980s. “Kristallnaach” is a word in the dialect spoken in the German Region of Cologne. It refers to “Kristallnacht”. The BAP song itself compares xenophobia and fascism and violence which we observed in the 1980s with what happened throughout the real events of the “Reichskristallnacht Progrom” in November 1938. The song was visionary, and provocative in the 1980s, and entirely appropriate. Timeless. And moving me in 2016, when I thought about what was happening in the United States during that time.

If I look back onto those events from January 06, 2021, this was not so far-fetched. Looking onto those incendiary calls from Nr 45 a few days ago, for sure even less.

That was all on December 04, 2022, when I wrote that.

Of course, my thoughts about similar violent phantasies on the side of German far-right extremists are far from hypothetical, but at that moment I wanted to keep it in a thought-realm on far-right extremism, which is on the rise in Germany since a number of years. Like it is in other places in Europe, whether inside the European Union, whether in South-East Europe, or Eastern Europe. Or, in the United States. A number of my blog articles have referred to this awful global “ping-pong-game.” This rise of reactionary fascist xenophobic thinking, with a global attitude including to take rights away from women, and now going far beyond white supremacy by mainstreaming awful anti-semitism, it comes with many different facets. Recently, Indonesia decided on a law making extra-marital sex a crime. Just an example.

Well, a few days later, German and international news are filled with reporting about a huge raid by German authorities, under the lead of the “Generalbundesanwaltschaft”, in English the “German Federal Prosecution Office”.

Here are a few links to recent raids targeting suspected armed members of the far-right extremist Reichsbuerger-Bewegung: Tagesschau as of December 07 (GERMAN); German Federal Minister of the Interior in Tagesschau as of December 07 (GERMAN); Tagesschau on Reichsbuerger Background as of December 07 (GERMAN); Reporting on the German raid in BBC as of December 07 (ENGLISH); Reporting on the German raid in New York Times as of December 07 (ENGLISH).

The headline of The New York Times as of December 07 tells it all in one sentence: “Germany Arrests Dozens Suspected of Planning to Overthrow Government“.


What happened?

A German noble-man, together with a far-right female member of the German Parliament (also being a judge in Germany), soldiers and former soldiers, as far as I know also an individual with a history of being a police officer, overall as far as the public knows until today at least 25 persons are subject to an unprecedented investigation of German authorities. I’m not repeating the details here, since the article is already too long. But it looks not only like one of the largest raids in German history, involving more than 3000 police officers. It may look like the tip of an ice-berg. The Head of the Federal Intelligence Agency “Bundesverfassungsschutz” is quoted with estimating some 25.000 people radically poisoned by the “Reichsbuerger-Ideology”, with systematic efforts of at least at part of those to arm themselves, with plans of some of them for terrorist attacks, and plans for a larger putsch. At least some investigative links also point towards contacts with dubious Russian operatives.

An incredible story, and ongoing and likely widening. Being a police officer (retired) myself, I am, of course, proud of this vigilance. And certainly, more will be revealed.


Yet, this needs to be understood within the general context of where the shift of values brings us to, as I pointed out above. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is calling on more civic engagement preserving democratic values.

To quote him: Die Wehrhaftigkeit der Demokratie beweist sich auch darin, dass sich diejenigen, die anderer Meinung sind, die ein liberales, ein demokratisches, ein offenes Deutschland wollen, lauter äußern, als das gelegentlich der Fall ist.

In my translation: “The ability of democracy to protect itself is also a function of the extent with which those, who stand in for a liberal, democratic, and open Germany are speaking up with a louder voice than we see it, at times.”

That’s what I mean with the necessity to cultivate storytelling. And these are my humble small contributions.

The Reason For Storytelling: If You and I Don’t, Only Others Do – On Gaslighting Taken To a Global Level

Around 1 percent of U.S. veterans of World War II remain alive to tell their stories. It is estimated that by the end of this decade, fewer than 10,000 will be left. The vast majority of Americans today are unused to enduring hardship for foreign policy choices, let alone the loss of life and wealth that direct conflict with China or Russia would bring.”

In a Guest Essay in the New York Times, titled “World War III Begins With Forgetting”, Stephen Wertheim made this point. I can relate.

Like: The fewer people remember, and talk about, the Holocaust and the horrifying evil done to the world by the Nazis and Adolf Hitler, the more it becomes, at least, possible to mystify and to glorify it, and using the most ridiculous of all arguments. Like Kanye West, who now goes by the name Ye. “The Hill” is just bearer of one of countless reports about an interview which he, accompanied by Nick Fuentes, one of the most atrocious racists of recent times, managed to place in a show hosted by the likewise awful racist and xenophobist Alex Jones. Old stuff. Except that the use of social media bullhorns and supporting media is taking it to new levels. Because, whether it is ridiculous or not to praise the architect of the Holocaust wrongly as the guy who invented highways, or the microphone, it does not matter. I have heard arguments like that from my late father in law of my second marriage, more than thirty years ago. There were no Social Media by then. Today, the matter is to get a radical message out, upping the ante, on a path to mainstreaming a “truth” which is not only unsupported by any evidence, but also suppressing any historical truth about what happened. My stomach would turn upside down when I would even quote what Ye said. But wherever on whichever dubious platform, such as Alex Jones’, such outrageous comments are made, within hours the message is also spread through any mainstream media. One side of them glorifying it, the other side vilifying it. For those intents and purposes behind the message itself, both work out very well.

Before I get to the gaslighting argument, upping even this ante, two other examples for why storytelling is so necessary, and which danger sits with when witnesses of horrifying events pass away in numbers: The older the Mothers of Srebenica get, the less can be done against the minimising narrative related to the horror of the Srebrenica genocide. I met the Mothers often, and I truly admire their relentless sticking to telling their stories of a genocide. This is not a function of their healing when they repeat to tell their stories. It is a sacrifice, for the good of keeping a memory alive as a cautionary tale. One day I took my visiting father with me. They are so kind, they offered him coffee and spoke with him just because he was an interested human being. No other intent, no benefit for them. My father cried and cried. Until today, more than twenty years later, he talks about the deep impact of his visiting them.

The same holds true for the genocide in Rwanda, and in uncounted other situations. The more people grow up who have no direct memory of what happened in Germany, in Bosnia&Hercegovina, in Rwanda, in Cambodia, in Stalin’s Russia, during the brutal McCarthyism and under Jim Crow in the United States, or in the Armenian genocide, or else, the less the voices of those can be mitigated who minimise, refute, deny. If context is not there, nothing describes the extent of atrocious behavior against the Uighurs, the suffering of minorities in Myanmar, and I need to end with “and and and”, because the list is so long.

Storytelling is a social function which can not be replaced by the noise on Social Media. Quite to the contrary, storytelling is one of the needed antidotes against the devastating effect which unhinged Social Media has. Because even the function of Social Media is subject to a gaslighting narrative, putting an unrestrained version of Twitter, for example, into a manipulative context of an alleged support of free speech, whilst the ulterior motive only is to make profit, and to increase own control.

By the way, I believe that there is a reason for why Number 45, since his account got reinstated by Elon, has not used this account ever since: Not only that this would take away from his own bullhorn (Truth Social), he does not need to use his old Twitter account, and can chose smartly when that time would be there. Simply because the message that his account got reinstated is already enough for gaining even more “followers”. These “followers” likely rise in numbers directly on “Truth Social”, and on connected accounts including on Twitter, as a direct consequence of the reinstatement.

When I grew up, “Followers” was used as a term for people following a certain religious or spiritual belief system. I still object against the manipulative use of terms such as “Friend” or “Follower” on social media. That’s why, in this tiny world of “Durabile”, my blog, I don’t care about how few people “follow” my blog here. What I care about is that the day before yesterday this blog surpassed the threshold of 10.000 reads within those 120 posts since 2014. It just tells me that my storytelling is a tiny contribution to the overall need of telling stories.

Because there is no absolute truth, and no objective truth, as I pointed out here. Now, I am quoting myself from that blog post: QUOTE “Truth as a means of control. Number 45 did this on countless occasions, and more recently he is hard-pressed by people who are attempting to establish even more radical forms of white supremacy, xenophobia, racism, and anti-semitism. Read in The Rolling Stone: “How Trump Got Trolled by a Couple of Fascists“. UNQUOTE

I wrote this post December 01. Four days before writing this post. At that time, I found the analysis relevant which is reflected in the article in “The Rollingstone”. Meaning, that Ye, Fuentes and likeminded people were on a path pressing Nr 45 into even more radical messages.

What happened since? In a few statements including on Truth Social, Nr. 45 did what we saw on many occasions when there was an uproar: He minimised. Distracted. Sold ambigous messages. Allowed messages that he wasn’t aware. That he did not know Fuentes.

I have no personal doubt that all this is part of the MO. Because, as always, the next attack is even more extreme. Meanwhile, inasmuch as I love Jimmy Kimmel, he and other well-minded Late Night Comedy hosts find themselves in the trap that each of their shows ridiculing Nr 45 helps him.

Which is what I want to end with here, today: I just read a story in the British BBC: Under the headline “Trump’s call for ‘end’ of constitution condemned by Democrats“, BBC is reporting on a message from Number 45 on his platform “Truth Social”. According to this report, the White House condemned former President Trump after he called for the termination of the U.S. constitution. I quote from BBC: QUOTE In the post, Mr Trump referred to vague allegations of “massive & widespread fraud and deception” and asked whether he should be immediately returned to power. “A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great ‘Founders’ did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!” he said. UNQUOTE Setting parts of the text in bold letters is done by me, not by BBC.

I can’t wait watching Jimmy Kimmel ridiculing Nr 45, but I mourn those months when he and others managed to find comedy topics which would not contribute to antagonism, by condemning it. May be I’ll write Jimmy’s staff an email.


This is unprecedented in contemporary history as I remember it. Since 2016 there is a history of statements in this blog concluding that it is getting worse before it gets better. But a former President of the United States fighting an accuse, possibly an indictment, for inciting sedition by establishing a narrative that is ripping down the foundations of the U.S. Constitution, this is unheard of.

There is a clause in the German Constitution sometimes named the “Stauffenberg clause“: “Gegen Jeden, der es unternimmt, diese Ordnung zu beseitigen, haben alle Deutschen das Recht auf Widerstand”. Or, in my translation: “Against anyone who is undertaking to remove this constitutional order, all Germans have the right to resist.” It can be found in Article 20, I grew up with, it’s part of my DNA and part of my pride. It’s one of the defining differences between today’s German Constitution and it’s predecessor before the Nazis demolished it: The Weimar Constitution. It is meant as a pillar, albeit, perhaps symbolic, in efforts to robustly protect a constitution from enemies within. Sometimes during 2016 I referred to it in discussions with friends on the U.S. Constitution. Then, with tears in my eyes, I played the song “Kristallnaach”, by the famous German Rockband BAP.

So, one of my hypothetical thoughts is about whether there will be people on the far-right in Germany who think about how to establish a narrative that the German constitutional order is subject to removal from within, by justifying their resistance in saying that the government and the establishment is the enemy of what the Forefathers, the Founders of our Constitution, meant. This is not far-fetched, and it is the same logic.

We have come this far in an approach of extremists in removing the foundations of contemporary democracies, and the rule of law. A few years ago, I would not have believed that one day I would read a report such as the one here on BBC. This has become the new normal, one and a half years before the next battle on presidential elections will begin, in 2024. So, my question is: What’s next, if this has already become the new normal now.

Of course, this question includes where those on the Republican side are, and which legal, ethical, and moral, responsibility they assume, by openly or tacitly condoning such a development. That, on one hand, is part of domestic politics in the U.S. in which I am only an external bystander. But over here, in Europe, we fight the same fight. And we are affected by what is happening “over there”. And vice versa.

We are in this together, only. There is no space for claiming “that’s not my business”, or for complacency. Each day, we are waking up with new worse news than before.

So, why all this under the headline “Storytelling”?

One of my next blog entries will talk about one of my recent books reads, “Dopamine Nation”, by Dr. Anna Lembke. Full quote of the book in my next article. But here is the connection: Within a universe of contemporary addictive sources of Dopamine release through substance and behavioral abuse, one key problem sits with Social Media. I will also refer to the challenges one of my children has with the addictive suffering using Tic Toc.

I believe we can not use Social Media for the kind of storytelling I mean in this blog. For many reasons which I will try to explain there. But for starters, Social Media does not support peaceful fact-based storytelling implicitly through it’s algorhythms. I have own examples, including this blog, or my Youtube channel. I stay away from inciting or upsetting messages and their promotion, as a consequence, nowhere in the suggestion lists of these sites any of my writing or my videos will come up.

There is a need not only to regulate Social Media, but also to devise strategies how storytelling remains a vital democratic and humble function of our societies and cultures. Storytelling is inherently local, or topological. It is unsensational, and personal. Peaceful, mindful, truthful, honest, personal storytelling. No rambling, no yelling involved.

I hope that I adhere to my own standards, here.

On Sustainability – Origins of my artificial term Durabile

What is the meaning, and the value, of achieving sustainability, in a world which is constantly changing, because there is no way to stop change without freezing out of spacetime?

Is there a way into sustainable growth of something within the outside world of phenomena, such as a continuous eternal growth in wealth, a continuous uninterrupted reduction of poverty, a continuous and never-ending growth of nurturing wholesome values, such as those we consider to be “fundamental”?

And if we would accept that everything changes, sometimes to what we consider being “better”’ and sometimes towards what we would consider to be “worse”, what is the answer then to the question “Why am I investing into something which won’t last?”, “What’s the point of all of these efforts?

Inasmuch as you could say “Well, you’re losing yourself in philosophy again, don’t ya?”, I could also respond that I have heard such questions on countless occasions from likeminded people in the field of humanitarian work and work on peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and I have my own share of moments when I was full of despair and disappointment and struggled with soldiering on. The “March Riots” of 2004 in Kosovo come to my mind as a prominent personal example of such a situation I found myself in, together with thousands of us idealists, Kosovans, soldiers in KFOR, police officers in UNMIK, and all civilian staff in UNMIK and the larger international community.

But also recently, in a coffee chat, when a colleague and friend of mine went on the gloomy side, asking whether all the long-term strategic efforts we are putting into supporting a five-year-initiative have had a real impact. Or, when friends of mine and myself mourned the implosion in Afghanistan. And one year later, we still can’t believe we are witnessing a menacing and extremely dangerous land war of aggression waged against the Ukraine, with every human suffering and every loss of hard-fought values throughout many decades within.

Putting these questions forward, and answering them, is in my experience extremely dependent on the general personal mood one is in. I find myself seeing that my answers will depend on how I feel, at that moment. And because I know that, I have my toolset: Taking a break, zipping my mouth and, if possible, calming the crazy committee of voices in my head, stepping out of the picture and taking a larger vantage point.

So, asking these questions, and writing about what, for example, constitutes sustainability, is the opposite of an abstract philosophical approach. We use phrases like “sustainable solutions”, “domestic ownership”, and a thousand other buzzwords in uncounted strategic and political statements, documents, sessions of the UN Security Council or the EU Political and Security Committee, and annoyingly we throw it on each other in myriads of PowerPoint presentations.

So, it is appropriate and very practical to write about it. Like in my previous article, where I analysed the meaning of the word “truth”, it is also relevant for a word such as “sustainability “.

Sustainability sits at the heart of any strategic approach, and it is reflected in the name of my blog. When I founded this blog in 2014, I looked for an Internet Domain Name which would be unique, artificial, and reflective of the theme of my blog. I combined “durable” with “mobile”, forged these words into one: “durabile”. It is just one of the many miraculous manifestations of the Yin Yang – principle.

I love this artificial word until today. So, where is the Yin and the Yang in “Sustainability”?

On the most fundamental level, I would personally characterise sustainability as a relation between the dynamics of change, and relative temporary stability. Nothing, literally nothing in the world of composite phenomena is able to escape impermanence. It is our day-to-day denial of the fundamental law of impermanence, our clinging to the wish of living in unending happiness, which is limiting our appreciation that sustainability is like the suspensor component in every shock absorber in cars: The shock absorbers attached to wheels are composed of a spring and a suspensor, countering the radical wildness of the spring’s frequency, smoothening the bumpiness of the ride. The right pressure in the tires adds to that, as any overland camper or vanlifer traveling the back country can tell you.


When I had come this far in my writing on a rainy late fall morning, sitting in my favorite street cafeteria in Belgrade, December 01, 2022, I took a deep dive into my memories, and then subsequently deep into my digital archives. Writing about the “March Riots” of 2004, I remembered a morning after these horrible events when I managed for the first time to come up with a formulation of my thoughts on how to move on, and to move constructively forward. My later (and now ex-) wife and I had our first weekend with some sleep, and it was April 07, 2004, when I wrote the following text, which I found just now. Except for Lori, nobody has heard or read the words of this text until now, eighteen years later. And when I read it now, I also understand the sustainability behind the theme of my blog “Durabile”.

So, take your time, read this, and remember: A few days before I wrote “We Are Starting To Wake Up”, we were in one of the worst nightmares one can have been in, and for many of us it felt like the implosion of a lifetime of efforts in the service of peace and security. After reading it, use the following link to watch a video about a travel I undertook in Kosovo, and to Gracanica, just a few weeks ago. In this video I do not make specific reference to what I am writing about below. But you will understand what I am talking about, once you have read the text below.

And then, continue with the final part of this blog entry, please, if you’re still glued to this lengthy, but hopefully interesting, train of thoughts and emotions.


We are starting to wake up. After days and nights being one nightmare we are diving up to the surface. We are faced with a new reality and with new memories. Memories we have to integrate into our lives and into our previous memories, those which created our perception of the reality we would have believed to live in. A reality which happened to become so brutally changed for all of us.

The recalls of these days around mid of March 2004 are new. And radically different. Whatever perception of the reality each one of us had, no one of us would have expected that atrocities on such a large scale could have been able to happen. Day by day new aspects are showing up in our minds, situations that we have not been able to integrate into our memory. As so much has happened, thousand times more than anybody of us could just take in a regular and sequential order. The intensity of these events prevented that anyone of us could realise the full flegded scope of individual memories we have and the corporate memory we just are about to create right now. As we are discussing our individual memories amongst ourselves, the corporate memory is being created.

It is a fundamental human process, one of the strongest and the most unavoidable ones that memories are integrated into the already given. So this is starting to happen with these nightmare-memories as well.

On a normal day memories which are not different from previous ones will just be added. Another Sunday here or there, with the usual procedure of getting up, doing things, seeing relatives, having a meal, playing with the children, having a walk or whatever else, such memories just add.

A death of a relative or a friend, if we had to expect it, if it was obvious that it would happen, it leaves us saddened, full of tears and pain, mourning, but we realise that such things happen, and we integrate this memory. Life goes on, this is what we say and know.

A severe traffic accident, a sudden unexpected death for whatever reasons, it makes us speechless, we try to find explanations. We are saddened, we mourn, we cry, but we raise the question „Why?“. Step by step we integrate these memories as well, but it takes us more efforts and it takes longer. If the given reason for the unexpected is not obvious, we will look for further explanations. As we need explanations in order to integrate the unexplainable into our memories. We do not like open wounds in our memories, we always attempt to heal. If it is impossible to find explanations, we will create some sort of protection around this wound in our memories, as we have to continue to live with our memories, which are, as I said, the fundament of how we perceive the reality. And as I also said: „Life goes on“.

The wish to reestablish normalcy, to find back to a normal pattern and rhythm in our lives, it is overwhelming. No one can endure a traumatization for a longer period of time. When the shelling of Sarajewo would not end, the normal life reestablished itself under most terrific and life-threatening circumstances. If a nightmare interrupts reality for too long, the nightmare will become the daily routine. This fundamental human process which keeps us alive, it will enable to live a regular life under all circumstances. For the one who looks on it from an outer world perpective it might be unimaginable, but the insider knows: „I have to live a normal life even under these circumstances, otherwise I will die, otherwise my soul will die“.

This is not what happened here. The nightmare came to a halt after some days and I pray for that it will not reoccur again. And our daily normalization is already starting.

The internationals, as we call ourselves, are in our offices and attempt to reestablish the work. Frantically, exhausted, traumatized. Whenever having a break, we will talk amongst ourselves, recalling our individual memories and putting them into an explanatory context. As we talk mainly amongst ourselves, the explanations being found are isolated to the extend that they include only limited other views communicating with some local colleagues and friends. The collective memory becoming created is including the explanations created by this process.

Those of us, the Kosovo-Serbs from places which have been burned down to ruins and ashes we will talk amongst ourselves, having to create normalcy under the awful conditions of being displaced, with all homes left burned and destroyed. The individual and corporate memories will exclusively be comprised of how those of us explain what happened. The Kosovo-Serbs returning to their homes in enclaves where they had to be evacuated from, they perceive a new reality including high-level protection again. And they will start to establish some normalcy depending on individual and corporate memory being different from others of us. The explanations about what happened during this nightmare will be exclusively based on restricted, on isolated communication.

Let me have a look on those thousands of us, the Kosovo-Albanians who have been part of violent crowds without committing individual offences. As I do believe and all of us know that there is a difference between the fact that participation in a violent crowd can establish a crime in itself but that in addition to that individual crimes like arsoning, assault and brutal murders have happened. Let me look at first on those of us who participated in violent crowds without individual criminal offences. As these Kosovo-Albanians do create the majority of all participants. And as they come home with a specific recall of the nightmare, in all likelihood a triumphant one. These Kosovo-Albanians who stood in a violent crowd for example moving forward and backward between Caglavica and Pristina, held on distance from a defensive crowd of Kosovo-Serbs by international police officers, Kosovo Police Service officers and KFOR soldiers, they will have returned home to Pristina or elsewhere, living a life there not much different from that one before the nightmare. A return to normalcy is including talks to Kosovo-Albanian friends, no talks to Kosovo-Serbs or other minority members, not much talk to internationals. Reading newspapers in which the International Community is depicted as the real cause of what happened and where still „the others“ are painted as the living and existing evil. Putting this memory into such a context, explaining the nightmare by this. Life goes on on this side as well, perhaps not too much different. Some might regret and have a bad feeling, which they will try to cover and to hide rather quickly, explanations which are putting others into the position of being responsible are most welcome. Some more thoughtful will feel depressed, I would wish to see as many as possible feeling guilty and responsible from an overall perspective. But some weeks from now everything will be normal again.

Those of us, the international police officer and the KFOR soldier, after a couple of months they will go home. An interim normalcy here in Kosovo, some explanations, many of them blaming one group, as another group, minority members had to be protected. This is a reality no one can argue against without being absolutely irresponsible: during these days the minorities amongst us had to be protected against attacks, let us be clear about this. So this officer or soldier will have his picture, his memories and will go home with his explanations.

The Kosovo Police Service officer might be looked upon much different. If he or she is a Kosovo-Serb, he or she acted during those days protecting the own kin. If he or she is a Kosovo-Albanian, the own relatives or friends might have been part of the attacking crowd between Caglavica and Gracanica. And as all groups in Kosovo create their own reality with their own memories and explanations, the Kosovo Police Service as an organizational entity and part of the UNMIK-Police is subject to collective memory and accusations. Either having been not helpful for the Kosovo-Serbs or even participating in the violence or not been seen as a supportive element for the underlying extremism on the Kosovo-Albanian side. I am aware of terrible reports as well as of courageous actions. Establishing the truth will take time, time during which the establishment of the corporate memory and all kinds of explanations and accusations will not stop.

The Kosovo-Serb, who stood in the other crowd, he or she saw houses arsoned, going home to Caglavica or Gracanica, now again under protection by checkpoints. I have been here in 2000 and 2001, I am so familiar with these checkpoints. Checkpoints interrupt communication. When we were able to remove them in 2002, we could see an increased joint live of the ethnic communities. One would see Kosovo-Albanians in restaurants in Lapje Selo, one could speak Serbian in the streets of Pristina. Is the latter possible after the YU-flats had to be evacuated and the Kosovo-Serbs there have been displaced? Is it wanted in a situation where speeches in the Assembly from which I have transcripts earlier this year speak about English as the „second“ language in the school-system in Kosovo? So this Kosovo-Serb will establish normalcy in his or her individual context, the explanations are driven by exclusively this perception.

Many things are being said currently in the public, as all of us attempt to find explanations. We will read about accusations against the international community, but it is being raised by some of us who are not part of this international community. Others will talk about circles of extremists organising this nightmare. But it is public knowledge and not a secret of the Police Commissioner that organised extremists can not act without the underlying readyness of the many to allow this and to participate. Opposed to unorganised mobs we have witnessed directed crowds. A crowd can not act without a leader, but a leader can also not direct without a crowd.

But all of us have one thing in common, we, the Kosovans and the so-called Internationals, all of us who experienced this nightmare, we want to reestablish normalcy as quick as possible. What we are faced with is the danger that we establish separate normalcies. And I have to say that this is one of the fundamental reasons for what happened. Extremists and terrorists and regular criminals can not act to this extent in an environment which does not allow this. The experience is a world-wide one, I can use many many examples.

In a situation where all of us wake up we desperately try to find explanations. And explanations which are deflecting from the own corporate and individual responsibility are most welcome from a psychological perspective. I have to say that those who should not be considered to be part of us, the organised criminals, the extremists and terrorists are the only ones who have the benefit of this separate establishment of reasons why this nightmare could occur.

As a Police Commissioner I am responsible for the security of all of us. And I have to say that the establishment of the Rule of Law, the vigorous prosecutions and conviction of individuals who committed crimes is one of the most powerful instruments in a democratic and peaceful society. But to what extent does this apply in an environment where arrests would be perceived contradictory to the separated explanations about what happened?

The Rule of Law applies to all who wish to have it established in order to prevent that anybody is above it. To what extent the many of us reckognize that all of us are part of the same society? Will the arrest of an individual having committed a crime during this nightmare being perceived the same way amongst all groups which are so separated from each other?

Kosovo is at the crossroads. There is a joint responsibility of the civil society. All of us are part of this civil society. If the reality is different from this, if separated civil societies do exist in Kosovo, there is no joint Rule of Law other than the externally imposed.

So, the civil society is asked to recognize an inseparable responsibility beyond ethnic and religious groups. This civil society are all of us, local and central kosovan politicians, all religious and spiritual leaders, intellectuals and the ordinary man or woman on the streets. As long as we perceive separated realities and why things happened, as long as we communicate along ethnic and religious borderlines, as long as we make a difference between us and the others, nothing will change.

Communication is the ground for reconciliation, the South-African model of reconciliation has been discussed here from time to time and I have had some personal opportunity to explore it more. This is not South-Africa, this is Kosovo, this is the Balkans. But this is a reality of different groups not talking. I would like to see discussions organized by the civil society or it´s political, spiritual and intellectual leaders with Kosovo-Albanians, Kosovo-Serbs and international and local police officers participating who have been part of the same violent situation.

I would like to see really joint perceptions of what happened. May be reconciliation is a dream far along the road. But without inter-society-dialogue even the preconditions for such a dream are missing. And without dialogue there is no joint. I am concerned, as dialogue is also a precondition for a joint recognition for one Rule of Law for everyone within a civil society.


When I came back to Kosovo on many occasions, I was still processing, and healing. I finally healed a few weeks ago, and that’s what that Youtube video is about.

At the same time, impermanence, but also growth, has accompanied me throughout my private life. Those events in March 2004 were the beginning of the end of Lori’s and my time in Kosovo, we knew that we had to hand over efforts, after some final stabilisation. We moved on, and we married, and we gave life to amazing twins a few years later. And we suffered, and we had pain, when things broke apart in 2013, finally. And we moved on, sustainably committed to what was always defining the foundation of our relationship, true love and friendship. We went through these transitions of impermanence, and were rewarded. I have to speak specifically for myself, as I tend to stay on my side of the street: I was rewarded. For sustainable commitment to truth, honesty, compassion, and love, I was rewarded with an uninhibited trust and friendship. I strive for giving that back. And both of us are rewarded with seeing our children growing, with values, with fallible human parents, who commit to sustainability.

So, here you have it, sustainability in the small and the large, because the video also makes clear that process, development, and also the all-pervasiveness of growth and decay, applies to everything. In that sense, the above text feels, to me, like a piece of evidence for that contributing to sustainable solutions does not only matter, but is the only way.


Sustainability built into concepts and efforts works best when I accept the larger validity of impermanence. I spoke of relative and absolute truths in my previous article. Buddhism tells me: Every composite phenomenon is impermanent. Physics does agree, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics is universal within that part of the spacetime continuum which we can observe and measure. In itself, this statement is an axiom, and in my belief system it is an absolute truth. Whether I like it, or not, it is defining our existence in this world of phenomena. Meaning, it doesn’t make a difference whether I like it, or not.

But I can use it to my advantage. Like, that a sustainable commitment to human values is useful for growth of prosperity and happiness of All. I don’t have to be spiritual even to see the advantage. Betterment for All is the sustainable solution for bettering the fate of the individual. Every dictator and selfish autocrat and selfish billionaire dies the same way like I will die. But, as Pema Chödrön says: How we live is how we die (How We Live Is How We Die, 2022 Shambala Publications).


Sustainable commitment to peace and security is my personal means to achieve the happiness which prepares me for every transition in this life, and beyond. In that, I am Durabile.

Truth Wars

From the Cambridge Dictionary:

“truth – the quality of being true”

“the truth – the real facts about a situationevent, or person

“truth – statement or principle that is generally considered to be true

“truthfulness – the quality of being honest and not containing or telling any lies


From Wikipedia:

Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality


I guess I could go on and use definitions or descriptors from many other sources, and still there would be a sort of ambiguity reflected in the term “truth” that can’t be dissolved. Words such as “quality“, “real“, “facts“, “generally considered“, “being honest“, “lies“, they are a far cry away from an axiomatic meaning which would establish something like “an absolute truth” which can not be disputed by anyone, or any argument.

Looking at the above, truth is a relative term, and it requires consent between those who state that a thing, an event, a statement, a concept “is true”.

So, truth is not only a label, but also a relationship between conscious entities, such as human beings (but not only!) through consent, or agreement, or unfortunately also by unchallenged imposition, or through joint perception. For any non-colorblind person, “red” is “red” and “blue” is “blue”, despite the fact that I cannot prove that what I see as “blue” is seen the very same way by another person agreeing with me on labeling the color of a thing as being “blue”. There are people who, just for example, perceive colors and sounds VERY differently from the majority of humans: Chromesthesia or sound-to-color synesthesia is a type of synesthesia in which sound involuntarily evokes an experience of color, shape, and movement.” Those who have experience with substances such as LSD, or Psylocybin, will report about sound or especially music creating patterns and extremely detailed textures and colors, once one closes the eyes. It helps in understanding the relative truth of conventional perception, and the limitations coming from if I just assume that another person is assuming the same things being “true”.

If it is true for me that this color is “red”, it requires a consent with you to agree on labeling a perception the same way. In order to understand you, I need a certain degree of joint experiences, and languages being used in a similar or same way.


Is there something which is beyond a requirement to consent in order to be considered being “true”? Aren’t the facts from science undisputable? Isn’t mathematics something which is founded on axioms? So, looking up “Axiom” reveals the definition that “an axiompostulate, or assumption is a statement that is taken to be true, to serve as a premise or starting point for further reasoning and arguments.

Here we are again, using the term “true“, or “taken as true“, meaning that we have to consent on accepting some statement as being “true”. If I believe in a flat earth, my fellow flat-earthers and I will claim that it is true, and will not deviate, whichever scientific facts which I consider being true I throw at them.

I remember a science lesson at my high-school, probably around 1974. The teacher had invited two members of Jehova’s Witnesses into our class. We were invited to discuss their belief that the World has been created by their Creator roughly 6000 years ago (plus the almost fifty years between that discussion and today…). My friend Peter and I, who loved loved science, used every fact we knew about in our reasoning that, according to our knowledge, the Earth was roughly 4.5 billion years old, in a universe we nowadays believe has been evolved from a Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago. There was literally no way that we could penetrate their arguments and make them agreeing on some form of truth which would have established a consent between us and them. Neither could they convince us related to their version of Genesis, just mentioning.


So, as an intermediate thought: What does it mean if people in our current state of antagonisation say “Truth Matters”? What is the meaning behind a brand label created by Number 45, “Truth Social”?

It means nothing else than that consent on an unspecified number of qualities, beliefs, policies, worldviews, or else, is called upon. And at least “Truth Social” would be an example for a dogma such as “As long as you consent to my view, you are in line with my truth, and if you are not, I may even call you an Enemy of the State.” Truth as a means of control. Number 45 did this on countless occasions, and more recently he is hard-pressed by people who are attempting to establish even more radical forms of white supremacy, xenophobia, racism, and anti-semitism. Read in The Rolling Stone: “How Trump Got Trolled by a Couple of Fascists“.

So, when we talk about “Truth Matters”, is it about imposing my truth upon you, or finding a mutual platform of consent, through listening, empathising, understanding, agreeing, compromising, finding common denominators?


Before coming back to my last question, here another source of my personal belief system:

In the Buddhist teachings, there are Two Truths. …”there’s an idea that everything has two levels of truth, relative and absolute: how we experience life when we’re immersed in it, and how we experience it from a distance when we can get a vaster perspective” (Pema Chödrön – How We Live Is How We Die, 2022 Shambala Publications, Page 51).

Essentially, in my interpretation (sic! need of consent again…): Absolute truth is a concept from the spiritual realm, including, but not limited to, religious faith. Please note that in my view Buddhism is not a religion, but a spiritual source of wisdom. I don’t believe in a personalised God concept. But I am firmly rooted in a spiritual connection with Everything.

If you, the reader, would agree with me, then we would conclude that the world of phenomena has only relative truths, based on perceptions which are mutually held. The absolute is the realm of the spiritual world. However, if people claim they have understood the Absolute (Or claim God spoke to them), and they allow it to permeate into the world of phenomena, dogma is born: My truth is absolute. My God will protect my soldiers, and not your soldiers. My God says that women need to be veiled. My God allows me to fight a Holy War. Radical Muslim dogmatists have done that, radical Buddhist fundamentalists have done that, radical Hindu fundamentalists have done that, Christianity has its share of radical violent dogmatism and suppression and brutal violence, Judaism is not without such phenomena, no religion or spiritual belief framework is without shameful stains resulting from imposing an absolute truth on my fellow women and men, human beings of any sexual and gender identification, followers of a belief, and especially also children.


Where does this lead me to, here?

What I see is the widespread use of catchphrases such as “Truth Matters” with a reduced understanding as if there would be “one truth”, and that others fall victim to “untruthfulness”. That those who manipulate with lies do establish the opposite to truth. I don’t see it like that. I see it as the attempt of replacing “your truth” with “my truth”. I see it as an attempt to control the narrative, and through it, others.

That is why I continue to note that still, increasingly, and on a global level, we see antagonisation thriving, and collaboration and listening in an effort to understand the position of others diminishing.

When the Biden Administration took office, there was a refreshing silence for some time on Number 45. Nothing today is reminding of those few months. Everywhere I look, listen, watch, read, I see Trumps, Ye’s, Elons, Victors, Matteos, Björns, Vladimirs, and their copycats. And everywhere, the radicalisation leads to that the next copycat is more radical than the one before.

That’s why I choose “Truth Wars” as the title. Truth Wars do not require consent by argument, in such a violent scenario it matters that I succeed, by imposition and manipulation, not by accepting another person’s reality as equally relevant to mine.

What I see is that after a perceived “lull”, the Truth Wars have become even more radical. Racism, xenophobia, hate against transgender people, hate of and supremacy over women, anti-semitism, anti-muslim sentiments, they come closer to be part of the mainstream. As a part of a larger pattern of xenophobia, in the Western World the white hateful male lower middle-class and impoverished lower-class underdogs fall victim to pied pipers, some of them extremely privileged and dishonest.

What I also see is that we deploy force against force, loudness against loudness, control against the attempt to control. Literally every such concept is pouring gasoline on the firepit.


In my line of professional work, I support the consent between the six jurisdictions forming the Western Balkans, on the belief that fewer weapons, explosives, and ammunition, and more control over all licit aspects of them, and the fight against illicit aspects of using weapons, their ammunition, and explosives, is good for peace and security in these societies. As a consequence of this consent on a jointly held truth, these six jurisdictions (we name them jurisdictions, since Kosovo is not un-disputed amongst all of them and amongst others in relation to statehood, different to Albania, Bosnia &Hercegovina, Montenegro, North-Macedonia, and Serbia), these six jurisdictions communicate, collaborate, and cooperate highly joint in implementing policy and operations. They do this despite the fact that some of them have disputes on a political level, and that cultural, ethnical, and faith diversity creates this amazing and wonderful mix which has also seen violence, oppression, war and genocide when some considered their truth more supreme than the truth of others.

I am using this as a practical example for the opposite of what I have labeled “Truth Wars”. This is one of countless examples were people sit together and listen, and learn from each other, willing to do things jointly, whilst acknowledging that they do not agree on everything, for the sake of a higher objective, and advantages for all, instead of only for oneself.

Yet, the fundamental consent (sic: truth) on how to control Small Arms and Light Weapons could not be more different from, for example, the United States, where there is a widely held belief by many (don’t know whether they constitute a majority, and doubt it), that only the Second Amendment ensures the protection of the First Amendment. The accepted truth, and the consequences of it (exponentially more violence and unprecedented levels of mass shootings) are radically different, and this permeates literally into everything, including how for example policing concepts are being developed and implemented: It is not only about the need of police to protect themselves against an ubiquity of weapons; If citizens reject policing as something they want to give up their own weapons for, community oriented policing is VERY different in understanding, concept, and implementation.


If truth matters, it includes to accept that there are many different subjective truths. This allows for their coexistence, their learning from each other, their development, and ideally the growth of something that is more joint. So, very different to what we seem to nurture, or to fight, right now.

Some Thoughts on “Never Forget”

The idea to this post goes back to late summer 2021. Since then, the text sat in my “drafts folder”. Now, one year later, with unprecedented developments happening in East Europe, it is time to pick it up again, to rewrite it according to what has happened since the Russian war of aggression began to rage through the Ukraine, and to finalise it.

September 09, 2021, I came across an article in Balkan Insight, titled “In the Balkans, Let Us Remember to Forget“. The somewhat contradicting title caught my attention. I was enjoying a late summer espresso in a Belgrade street cafe, looking back at living and traveling for more than a decade in the Western Balkans. I love being here, the Western Balkans are somewhat home to me, and I have made it a habit to always connect to the local neighborhoods and to listen to local friends. Like that day in September 2021, in Belgrade’s Innercity, when I had a conversation with a youth activist. Of course, the conversation touched on the question as to which extent people identifying with different nationalities do co-exist. Do they feel like belonging to something they share in common, other than an ever more distant past of an entity called Yugoslavia? How do they establish a joint identity, based on commonly shared memories? The assessment of my friend was somewhat sober: Young generations carry the same feeling of belonging to entities based on “ethnic” narratives. We spoke about how to learn to effectively talk to each other by listening. But the memories of those who talk to each other, including in young generations, they are very different from one place to another.


I spend a lot of time as a digital nomad. The great thing is that I happen to listen to new people everyday, meeting people from all walks of life. Academic discussions are rare, and when I explain what I do, I always struggle with making it as simple as possible.

When I travel to Kopacki Rit, a stunning nature reserve in East Croatia, I sometimes pass through the city of Vucovar, which has a wartime past of unspeakable atrocities. During 87 days of siege in 1991, the city was shelled into rubble by the Yugoslav People’s Army JNA. To quote Wikipedia: “The damage to Vukovar during the siege has been called the worst in Europe since World War II, drawing comparisons with Stalingrad.”

Today, you will see mostly new and non-descript buildings not telling anything about that time long gone. Believe me, under the surface the memories and tensions are still there. Also, I am not so sure any longer that the damage to Vukovar stands out the way it did when the Wikipedia article was written: The damage to cities, towns and villages in the Ukraine is increasing day by day.


If you happen to come to Mostar in Bosnia&Hercegovina as a tourist, you will marvel at the beauty of a historic town with the famously destroyed bridge nicely rebuilt. Not much will give away tension, and segregation. But people on one side of the bridge are identifying as Croats, on the other side as Bosniaks. Live there, and you will soon become aware of the segregation running underneath.


More visible is this segregation, of course, in Mitrovica in Kosovo, the northern part inhabited by Kosovo-Serbs, the southern parts by Kosovo-Albanians. I can not count how often I have been on the West Bridge between 2000 and 2004, with tensions and, at times, violence, flying high.


When, in 2008, I asked a friend in Bosnia&Hercegovina, whether we were still driving in East-Sarajevo or would already be close to central Sarajevo, he responded “No, we are still on our side”. My friend identifies as a Croat, and he was referring to a specific area through which the front-line of Bosnian defence moved forward and backward throughout Sarajevo’s siege by the JNA. He said this more than twenty years later, realized what he had just said, looked surprised, and apologised for his Freudian error. At the same time, our Nanny, who identifies as a Bosniak, would be scared when we were taking our children and her for a walk up at Trebevic, an area from where Serb snipers were killing Sarajevan citizens during the siege.


When, early after the beginning of Russia’s war against the Ukraine, in February and March 2022, I would talk to friends in Serbia, notably here in Belgrade, I would always hear them also talking about their memories of the NATO bombing campaign in 1999. Like with everyone else, including related to those examples I have used above, on Croatia, Bosnia&Hercegovina, and Kosovo, collective memories of the wartime past are still very present here in Serbia. The historical connotation in which those memories happen, they are different from place to place, and so is the narrative related to what happened, or whether it happened at all, why it happened, whether some of these events constitute acts of genocide, or whether things which happened were justified, and just.

But here is the thing which I note these days: There is a collective memory of the trauma which happens when civilian populations suffer, whether through a siege, of through a bombing campaign, or anything else. The memory of trauma and fear, the memory of injury and death, it persists, notwithstanding historical reasons, established narratives, or narratives attempting to falsify history. Whilst the article in Balkan Insight in 2021 is arguing the necessity also to forget, in order to support reconciliation, this is not yet the situation here: These memories are very present.

Over the last days, when I am having coffees with Serbian friends and when I bring up the situation in the Ukraine, their voices go very low. I will hear great sympathy for the suffering of the Ukrainian people, and I see expressions of pain on my friend’s faces. I will hear very clear voices telling me that indiscriminate shelling of the civilian population, that rape, murder, torture of Ukrainian’s by the Russian Army are upsetting my Serbian friends very much, that there is no justification for it, at all. There is a clear distancing from those acts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, other severe crimes. And it appears those feelings go deep. I always will hear references to the fear which my friends remember from their own trauma. Whether the bombing campaign here in Belgrade, whether the siege of Sarajevo. And I guess it is similar elsewhere.


This is where I close the loop between finishing this blog article which I have sitting in my draft folder since one year, and what is in my draft folder since a few days:

First, a select collection of links which I have been compiling:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62922674

https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/europa/isjum-ukraine-graeber-leichen-folter-101.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62931224

https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/europa/selenskyj-ukraine-massengrab-103.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62945155

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-63181475

I could go on an on, but I guess it is enough. From Bucha to Izium, one atrocity is piling on another war crime. To this, the indiscriminate bombing, rocketing, shelling over the past days, justified by the Russian President as revenge for the attack on the Crimean Bridge, it adds. I don’t want to throw even more links into the hodgepodge above, but it is especially this revenge action of the past days which clearly increases the feeling of people here of being upset.

When this war is over, Russia will be remembered for this. The long-term image of how we look at the Russian people will be severely damaged for a generation, or more. What this murderous Russian regime and the atrocities committed by the Russian army is doing pales anything we have seen on the European continent since the Yugoslav wars. The impact on the World order is so huge because one of the constituting powers defining the post WW2 order, dealing with the unimaginable atrocities committed by Germany, and others (notably including Russia), now tramples down the very foundations of what we collectively hoped to set up in the name of humanity.

Though genocide is genocide, and holding every nation accountable for systematic violations of the laws regulating armed conflict is a necessity of applying justice to violations of international laws, it has always been psychologically different to see these crimes being committed by nations far away, or so-called minor powers.

Yet, here we have a former superpower committing atrocities, whether in Chechnya, or in Syria, or through delegation to mercenaries in places like Africa or the Middle East. But the fact that this now is also happening in the very heart of Europe, with systemic occurrence and being part of a brutal plan of intimidation and oppression, it will haunt the individual Russian and the Russian society for decades to come. I was a child in post-war Germany and I have many individual memories about people from other nations neighbouring Germany hissing at me. As a little child, I wouldn’t understand. As a little child from Russia, they will not understand. Any process of reconciliation will last decades. And the responsibility for this, including criminal liability, lies with Russian leadership, including the person holding the office of President of the Russian Federation.

Yes, it is, in some ways, important to be able to forget, in order to forgive. But some things shall never be forgotten, otherwise the term “Never Again” becomes not only violated in so many cases, but becomes simply irrelevant. Whether it is the Holocaust, or the genocides of Srebrenica, Rwanda, or so many other places, or the crimes against humanity committed by Russia in the Ukraine, they shall never be forgotten.

Predictability in Complex Environments – Cognitive Bias Codex

April 20, 2021 I wrote a blog post “Futuretelling” on occasion of media informing about the report “Global Trends 2040”, a product of the collective of American intelligence agencies, issued then on occasion of a new Presidential administration (the Biden administration) taking the helm. I’d like to revisit the issue, almost one and a half years later.


“Global Trends 2040” revolves around five core assessments:

Global challenges include climate change, disease, financial crises, and technology disruptions. The report stated that they are likely to manifest more frequently and intensely in almost every region and country. Their impact on states and societies will create stress, or even catastrophic shock. The report assessed the pandemic as “the most significant, singular global disruption since World War II, with health, economic, political, and security implications that will ripple for years to come.

Fragmentation flows from the predicted transnational or global challenges. Overwhelming threats will lead to a reflex breaking apart, or threatening, globalisation.

Disequilibrium was the third theme of the report. The report focusses on its effects in a widening gap between what societies, communities, and individuals expect from governance and services, and what they can deliver. Doubts in the benefits of democratic governance, the profound inability of systems of international order to provide peace, security, and other important challenges to the sixteen Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations create a perfect storm.

Contestation was the fourth theme. Wealthy societies pump their reserves into handling the crisis, and into the race of getting out on the other side in the best position for competing, on economical and power levels. Conflict, violence, exodus, displacement, migration will have an effect on more developed societies. In a way, this amplifies fragmentation and antagonisation.

Adaption being the final theme, it means that profound changes will ultimately end in a new equilibrium. The question is how such a new system state may look like. Or, how much of our current one is left, and what will be the new reality.

To me, the core statement of “Global Trends 2040” is that we are passing through a phase of profound global system change, or paradigm change.


That was spring 2021. “Global Trends 2040” was written during the Covid-19 pandemic, so it was somewhat easy for the authors to qualify an existing pandemic as “the most significant, singular global disruption since World War II“. Then, summer 2021 brought the catastrophic events around the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taleban, and a crushing defeat of the West’s ambitions for Afghanistan over two decades. Spring 2022 saw the beginning of a war of aggression by the Russian Federation against the Ukraine. Motivation and publicly voiced rationale by the Russian President went, from the outset on, far beyond his claims related to the Ukraine, and related to overthrow the Ukrainian government. From the West’s perspective it is an attack against the West, it’s systems and it’s values. The Russian President describes this as a threat against Russia, claiming to act in self-defense. Of course, I have a clear position here joining those who state this is a brazen and aggressive move attempting to overthrow an existing order, and violating fundamental principles enshrined in international treaties. But on various occasions since then I have also acknowledged that it depends on where people live, and which cultural and historical ties they have grown up with, whether they join this assessment, or blame the West. This is a war on multiple levels, including information warfare, a war of systems against each other, a war of economies, a war of dogma how to prevail, and to govern. The physical battlefields are local or regional, information warfare happens in cyberspace, and the conflict is ultimately global.

So I wonder how the events of 2021 and 2022 would have been reflected in the wording of the report issued in spring 2021, if these events would already have been on the books of history by the time of writing. If already the pandemic posed the greatest disruption since WWII, it has only gotten worse since then.

With lightning speed, the World is continuing to change. Nobody would have anticipated, even in early spring 2021, that the situation went so haywire in summer 2021 in Afghanistan. And after that, if someone would have asked “What’s next?”, I doubt many people would have anticipated the developments in the Ukraine bringing us closer to World War III. May be, many years in the future, historians will assess that we already were in WW III. Because, even the forms and shapes of warfare have changed. Some of it started in 2001, when we began to see consequences of asymmetric warfare. And at that time, people would have found it unimaginabe that we would see conventional armies battling each other, on European soil, 21 years later.

What else do we know about battlefields of such larger warfare? I could go on about Asia and the ever increasing tension between China and Taiwan, just recently blowing up again on occasion of Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, bringing likelihood of yet another massive conflict into the equation. I could refer to how we all, internationally, after 9/11/2001 made critical assessments related to terrorist attacks against nuclear power plants. Now we are finding ourselves in a situation where Russian military forces conduct their attacks using the biggest nuclear powerplant in mainland Europe as a shield. Of course, following the same logic as outlined above, two sides accuse each other of being responsible for it. From a perspective of the threat being real, and grave, even this mutual accusation, being part of information warfare, adds to how scary the situation has become.

The Doomsday Clock has, once again, moved closer to 12, with the UN Secretary General telling us August 07, 2022, that the risk of nuclear confrontation is back after decades.

I could refer to the many developments in Africa, and since I am not a paid professional analyst with own staffing resources, my list of critical developments in the World would be highly selective, and certainly biased. Of course, it would include a whole chapter on instability in the Western Balkans, where I spend much of my time.

So, what can be said about “What’s next?” now, mid summer 2022?


The almost natural reflex is about looking around and to assess specific situations, specific countries or regions, and to attempt making predictions about how things may remain stable, or not. But more often than not, previous developments have taught us that destabilisation, system change, conflict and war occur almost to the surprise of professional analysts, and intelligence systems. The short term developments may be subject to correct analysis, like intelligence organisations unequivocally warned about Russia being serious about invading the Ukraine, once there was enough evidential data. But that was a short-term prediction, being put out into the public domain only from end of 2021 onwards, also in order to convince those who still, until February 23, 2022, doubted that Russia would follow-through on building up her military power alongside the borders of the Ukraine. Did we have enough data to predict this already, say in April 2021, at the time when “Global Trends 2040” was issued? From what I know through publicly avalable information, I would doubt it. So, this is not about “I told you so”.

The same will be the case related to anything up in the future, any new conflict development, where we then, again, will ask ourselves with hindsight whether we would have been able to predict it. In a highly complex and unstable environment, the fault-lines of where conflict arises next, and which physical or virtual dimension it takes, are difficult to predict medium-term, and impossible to predict long-term.

However, this makes the highly abstract level of “Global Trends 2040”, which I summarised above so profoundly valuable. Because, whilst we cannot be sure about “What’s next?”, we can be reasonably certain about that we have not reached rock-bottom. “Global Trends 2040” predicts a fundamental paradigm change and a war of systems, not a state of “rock bottom” from where things might recover to an old or only slightly changed equilibrium.


One of my favorite Youtube channels is called “Veritasium”. The channel is run by Derek Muller. Veritasium is covering a broad range of subjects, based on scientific evidence. According to its own website, “Veritasium is a channel of science and engineering videos featuring experiments, expert interviews, cool demos, and discussions with the public about everything science.” You will find a vlog as of August 2, 2022 there, called “The 4 things it takes to be an expert“. This piece is amazing:

In attempting to answer the question which experts have real expertise, the vlog includes a long list of references related to scientific evidence for its statements. The four things that make somebody a real expert, in ANY field of expertise, are based on long and ardous training, the vlog talks of a rule of thumb of 10.000 hours. In order to become an expert, one has to go through many repeated attempts with feedback. At one point of the video, Veritasium refers to a sample of 284 people who make their living on offering analysis or commenting on complex issues related to politcal and economic trends. These people were followed and questioned over two decades. The results, in a nutshell, are sobering. Any so-called expert with only education, but without extended feedback loops, was doing terribly. These “experts” were not significantly better in their predictions than non-specialists.

Watch the vlog. But what is the issue here? At least, that we have to be very careful in attempting to make predictions. And secondly, that we need to have a healthy and limited expectation in relation to what pundits will tell us. In my own self-assessment, I would certainly qualify for the 10.000 hour rule in relation to my own field of expertise (peace & security). But it would not make me believe that I would be able to find anything more than short-term answers to the question “What’s next?”.

Something which is called “cognitive bias” adds to the problem. This is what is behind the picture attached to this blog, and you can find the picture in wikipedia’s list of 188 cognitive biases, grouped into categories and rendered by John Manoogian III. In essence, according to the website teachthought, “a cognitive bias is an inherent thinking ‘blind spot’ that reduces thinking accuracy and results inaccurate–and often irrational–conclusions.” The graphical summary is listing 180 (!!) of them.

With having said that on our limitations to predict the future reliably, I will finally come back again to “Global Trends 2040”. What I, in sum, subscribe to, is the general statement about a time of system change which “Global Trends 2040” has, in my view correctly, deducted from available assessed information, which we call intelligence.

After President Nr 45 of the United States of America took power, I would find it comparatively easy to anticipate the scenarios that were possible to happen, and my worst case scenarios were pretty much along the lines of what we witnessed, until including January 06, 2021, and what we see coming up as a continuing threat for democracy in the United States, until today.

But compared with the complexity of fragility which we experience, this prediction was a piece of cake, since it was largely based on a psychological analysis of a person with multiple personality disorders, adding perhaps some deeper understanding about American society because I was embedded there for five years and listened and learned a lot.

Asking the question “What’s next” related to what we experience since then, I only know it will get worse, but I don’t know how, meaning “What’s next”. This is not a Doomsday attitude. Rather, it is a personal statement about the gravity of the situation we are finding ourselves in, these days.

Blip

It’s been a while since my last writing over here. Unlike blogs which require to be kept alive because of a business model of any sorts, by keeping the readership (or in case of vlogs, the viewership) being supplied with a constant stream of interesting pieces, this blog is for when I feel I have something I want to say. Whether it is interesting for the reader, well, you decide that. I also felt I had written a lot in a short period of time, recently.

This one is about a blip. This blip:

You will find this one, and more, here: https://web.mit.edu/sahughes/www/sounds.html

If you have had the patience to wait some 13 seconds until the blip finally becomes audible, you had the patience to witness a cosmic event, with gravitational waves from the merger of two Black Holes, recorded by some of the most amazing technology on Earth, LIGO, and transformed into a sound wave. Two monsters of the universe. At the center of them physics as we know it is breaking down, so we can’t explain the innermost workings. They were circling around each other, in ever closer orbit, until they merged. That blip, representing gravitational waves which have traveled for billions of years before reaching our finest detectors, it is testimony to some of the most massive energy bursts we know about in the observable universe. Many say correctly that it also gives testimony to the precision of modern day applied physics. True. But read about Black Holes, or Neutron Stars, or else, and the size of what is out there may perhaps rightsize the perception of our big achievements.

Am I becoming a physicist now?

Well, as on uncounted occasions before, these days I am trying to wrap my mind around the cutting-edge findings in quantum mechanics and general relativity. Moving forward and backward through what we explore on smallest and on largest scales of the universe as we believe to understand its “workings”.

Each time I do this, I end up somewhat exhausted, blown away, baffled about the complexity of mathematics which I don’t understand, but also feeling a fundamental sense of appreciation on a, perhaps, more intuitive level. I still am the child who, five or six decades ago, looked at the sky, wondered what was there, and walking into the public library after Sunday’s mass and coming home with a selection of science books, and science fiction books. Ever since I have been wondering what this is all about, limited in my understanding, and equipped with never ending curiosity asking known questions again and again, and discovering new questions which drive me further. Sometimes mad and crazy, but mostly further.

So, today’s recommended read: A Universe from Nothing — Lawrence M. Krauss.

The extent to which everything we learn about the fundamental forces and conditions of nature is governing literally everything in our daily life is extraordinary, and mostly not understood by many people. Whether we believe in a flat earth or in real science; Whether we manipulate truth or seek to find it; Whether we adhere to universal values of humanity or not; Whether we live a life in entire denial of global warming, or are concerned about the future of our children, nature on Earth, or the planet at large: We all live with and use technology which fundamentally exists only because of an understanding of physics which is almost incomprehensible for most of us. Just look at your smartphone. You will be able to explain most things related to how you are using it. Explaining how it works may be a much bigger challenge, often enough an impossibility.

Some may say “Why bother about what these eggheads say? I care only about what is useful for me.” Some say “Let them work away, writing up these crazy formulae, but God forbid if they are in my way.”

For the universe at large, the relevance of this denial and selfishness is smaller than minuscule. If we blow it up, the blip of that event will transverse the universe at the speed of light, and some distant future observer on Kepler-B 1423a will write a scientific paper in some language and logic unbeknownst to us, attempting to conclude what caused the blip. That alien scientist will note that the energy transferred through “that blip” indicates the explosion of a little planet, very unlike the billion times stronger energy released through a Black Hole merging event.

Another piece of extraordinary technology has made it into the main news stream: Like the Hubble Telescope before, the James Webb Space Telescope JWST is making the headlines. On the eve of the first public release of JWST’s first images, U.S. President Joe Biden was presented with one of them:

If you take a grain of rice and hold it up between two fingers, extending your arm towards the sky, the area which will be covered by this little grain of rice contains all the information similar to the picture above. Meaning, if you cover your entire perspective of the sky with such grains of rice at arms length, and you would be able to look through the Earth and do the same for the entire three-dimensional sphere that is the sky, the number of pictures like this one would equal the number of rice corns you have to use for this exercise. And with the exception of a few foreground stars, what you see in pictures like these are galaxies. Each of them containing billions of stars. According to our now ever firmer knowledge about the prevalence of planet forming around suns, there will be more planets circling around suns than there are suns in galaxies. And we talk about hundreds of billions of galaxies in the observable universe, at least.

I grew up with the hubris thinking that we may be alone in the universe. I can’t even emphasize how ridiculous such a thought is, in my view. But the period during which our observable universe has presented conditions which allow life to form as we know it, this may be the case since a few billion years. On a scale of the universe, civilisations like ours are a speck of dust, and I believe there are many of them.

If we blow ours up, oh well, will the universe notice?

Well, I am leaving the field of science here, and I will say the universe will cry because of our failure to do what we are supposed to do. Contributing to the beauty of this universe, rather than to our own selfishness.

Blip.


Uvalde – A Practical Proposal: Stop the monetization of social media channels glorifying Small Arms and Light Weapons

Picture taken by the author, 2016

Living in the United States between 2013 and 2018, I have had an inside view into the discussion that never seems to get anywhere: How to end the unending series of mass shootings which especially haunt this country. Like so many others, I am sick and tired. I am mad with the arms lobby, I do not understand how any politician arguing the rights of the Second Amendment being more important than any meaningful gun control law in light of the suffering of relatives, especially parents and caregivers, can even sleep, knowing that their sick and crazy protection of the gun lobby is making them morally complicit, as the next mass shooting will not occur in a decade, or next year, but within weeks.

At the time of this writing, parents, caregivers, husbands, wives, relatives, friends in Uvalde, Texas join a group of uncounted individuals who do not get relief from unspeakable pain, suffering losses that no parent and loved one should ever have to live with. Being a parent myself, my heart is broken and my thoughts are reaching out to those who feel utterly destroyed, hopeless, powerless, left with no meaning in their life any more.

Please watch this BBC video.

Gun violence in the United States takes more victims than traffic does. With brutal ignorance, the argument is repeated, over and over again, by these enablers of the NRA, that gun control does not curb this violence, that only armed security at schools does. There is no grain of evidence for such outrageous claims, against all comparative scientific evaluation of the effect of gun control legislation in jurisdictions all over the world. I am not even bothering with referencing such results here, they are ubiquitous for everyone who is really interested in getting the picture.

I invite you, for example, to watch the statement of Jimmy Kimmel, on occasion of the Uvalde school mass killing. I don’t have to add anything.

Meanwhile, German news report about contacts which the perpetrator had, in the weeks running up to the crime, with a fifteen year old girl in Germany. Including that the perpetrator clearly announced his intentions, and not only over the last minutes, but long before.

Which brought me to the role of Social Media, again. And here is a practical suggestion:

Demonetize any social media channel glorifying Small Arms and Light Weapons.


Since 2019, my work is connected to the efforts of the German Federal Foreign Office to support activities of States and international organizations to set up strategic, long-term, and meaningful gun control. We support this in six jurisdictions in the Western Balkans, we support it in the Carribean, we support it in West Africa, we look for ways how to engage in East Europe, and in Central Asia. The center of gravity of my work revolves around supporting the six jurisdictions of the Western Balkans in their effort to implement a regional strategic roadmap addressing all aspects of gun and ammunition control in a holistic way. Please, if you’re interested, read about the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap here. I am connected to similar activities in other regions of the world.

So I believe I know what I am talking about.


Advising on all technical, strategic, and often political aspects of this support work, I need to stay informed about latest developments, types of weapons and ammunition, converted weapons, 3D-printed weapons, and so much more.

That’s how Youtube began to invade my watchlist with weapons channels of the craziest forms.

I won’t even promote them here by mentioning names. They are pervasive, ubiquitous, the makers of these channels live and hail from the United States, Germany, Austria, just to name but a few.

Privately I am watching other things. I am subscribing to a few channels of vanlifers, who struggle to keep up a watching community of a few thousand, sometimes more. But none of them reaches the hundreds of thousands or millions of subscribers and views which weapons’ channels easily get. And I do know, from extensive watching, how absolutely centered these channels are around monetization, how makers tip-toe around some rules which would lead to a de-monetization of a vlog entry.

Here are two suggestions:

  1. Those of us who watch these channels: Unsubscribe, and make yourself heard about the reasons why you are doing this, in the comments’ sections. Subscribing to these channels is allowing the makers of these channels to generate a part of their revenue. Stop watching this stuff.
  2. To social media: It is time to take sides, and not to wait for a sickening and tiring new round of discussions on regulating the Internet. You don’t have to take the channels offline. Just demonetize any channel which can not clearly live up to justified reasons, such as scientific, policy, news&reporting, or else. Don’t hide behind the argument that the line is difficult to draw. The number of channels with people firing weapons under the craziest of all circumstances just for the purpose of glorifying weapons, and attract people watching it, it is outrageous. Take a stand. Don’t put your business model front and center. Act with compassion and support those who are eaten alive by grief, for the rest of their lives.