A rethink is beginning in Europe: The post-war period came to an end on the morning of February 24, 2022 – the states are now rearranging their priorities and investing more in their defense again. Only Austrian politics, Josef Puntigam warns, is still content with banalities and platitudes and hides behind a sheet of paper. As the government sleeps through the turnaround, citizens learn a new kind of fear…
Commentary, courtesy of Brigadier ret Josef Paul Puntigam
In Vienna and Graz, in Klagenfurt and Innsbruck, everywhere in Austria, everyday life goes on: the baker bakes. The mason bricks. the teacher teaches. the sentry is walking back and forth in front of the sentry box and the policeman is standing behind the bushes with the radar gun. Everything looks the same as always. But a storm is raging inside us.
History has intruded into our lives with a coal-black paintbrush. A bad word has made the front pages of the newspapers: WAR stands there now as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
The talk shows have recently been populated by security experts. The armaments companies run extra shifts. The Russian President’s eyes have narrowed into loopholes. Politicians in the EU also wear a serious expression. Only Austrian politics is still satisfied with banalities and platitudes. Later in the history book it will say: The post-war period came to an end on the morning of February 24, 2022 at 4:30 am. Only, the chronicler will remark, in Austria, as the country was then called, the change was not noticed.
Two questions concern the civilized world:
- How long will the Ukraine war continue?
- Could there be a major European war – or even a world war?
Which parameters are already recognizable worldwide (not in Austria)?
The companies with the largest investment budgets in Germany are no longer Mercedes or Siemens, but the Bundeswehr. The defense minister can now spend 150 billion euros, while the education minister has to be content with 20.3 billion euros, which is 500 million euros less than in 2021. The state has rearranged its priorities. It is no different in other Western European countries of the EU. Switzerland is also increasing its budget for defending its neutrality. And in Austria it’s still the other way around, there the culture budget is booming and of course the social budget for neo-Austrians as well. This is not called precaution, but client care! Yes, that’s the Austrian way.
Security? defensiveness? military fitness? Never heard of in Austrian education policy – what is that? Austrian politics is not concerned with this question. We live on the island of the blessed, because we are protected by a piece of paper – called the neutrality law. We have confirmed that to ourselves, even if everyone else doesn’t see it that way.
So woe-woe when I see the end! Because a storm is raging inside us – the storm of fear and uncertainty. And like the frightened boys when they walk through the dark forest and whistle, we sing: “The trees are blooming again in the Prater!” But the singing is no longer coherent, because politics has taught us in other questions, fear to have. Now the citizens are learning the other fear in self-study – without the applause of politicians.