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Everyone who lives in a NATO country has lived through war. It might not have been visible in your country — but Afghanistan was a war. Why do we struggle with that idea? Right now, war is raging in Europe.
These are the after times. When Russia invaded Ukraine, things would never be the same again. When Hitler invaded Poland, nobody expected that one cross-border invasion would end up with a nuclear bomb being dropped in Japan.
Be awake. Get ready. We do not know where this is going. But we have to realise what moment in history we are living in. We are in Fall 1939. Nobody thought that Paris would be occupied then.
You now work in security
If you work in digital, your company’s security is your nation’s security. If you work for Twitter, you could say “it’s just tweets”, and watch out for bot accounts. But if politicians use your app, then the security of your app, of your user data, of your user locations becomes an issue of national security. Anywhere where you are collecting user data means you are now in national security.
Russian soldiers in occupied territories were starting to get lonely, so turned to dating apps. And Ukrainian women were more than happy to use flirtations on the apps to gain location data and forces numbers, to aid the war effort. Ukrainians used QR codes to spread information about how to surrender, and were able to collect location data in real-time as a result.
People are pretty dumb about security on their phones. If your product is used by a politician or a head of state, you’re now in the national security game.
It’s time to act
It’s not a good thing that war has come back to Europe, but there’s part of her that is relieved that Europeans have remembered that history moves in cycles, and most people in the world have never been safe. We have enabled rich and murderous regimes. We have made choices that have enabled climate change. Likewise, we have made choices that have enabled this global crisis.
However, we are creatures of reaction and rapid action. Evolution has made us that way, but take advantage of that. What can you do to make this better? Can you donate money? Donate. If you have an app that could help Ukrainians, get in contact.
- We are living in the after times.
- Every business is in national security.
- Collective action is better than collective inaction.
- We cannot afford not to act.
Your gas bill is high because of Russia, not Ukraine. It’s not Ukraine’s fault, it’s Putin’s doing. But also remember that World War II was won because all companies, all people went on a war footing and made sacrifices to win that fight against a dictatorship. We’ve had it easy for decades. Freedom isn’t free. Use it — or lose it. Many generations in Europe are having to relearn this right now.
We live in an age of radical bullshit. The only way to fight that is with radical authenticity. Be so radically, brazenly and unapologetically yourself, speak your truth, and people will notice. The Trumps, Putins and Farages of this world are being very authentic, and believe what they say, however distasteful we mind find that. People can smell bullshit.
Jessica Berlin is a foreign policy expert focusing on transatlantic relations, geopolitical order, African-European relations, and Germany’s evolving role in the world. She is a frequent commentator on DW News and her analysis has been featured by the Washington Post, BBC World Service, Tagesspiegel, ZDF (Markus Lanz), Euronews, and other media outlets worldwide.