The Spanish-born but American-raised philosopher George Santayana wrote in 1905 that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.
It’s only 33 years since the Berlin Wall came down, marking the end of the Cold War – but now we are in another Cold War, or maybe an extension of the previous one which perhaps never ended. The old Cold War was horrible, for everyone.
Not least because it meant living with the constant anxiety that it might deliberately or accidentally turn into a Hot War, with nuclear weapons destroying the world.
The fragility of the ordered life we all took for granted has now been laid bare – in the course of little more than one week. I’m not the only one to be giving my children more hugs than usual; the million and more Ukrainians who have fled their country are all hugging their little ones more tightly than ever.
It’s not for me to express fear when Ukrainians who are facing Cruise missiles, bombs, and bullets are showing remarkable courage and determination. Yet, given the apparent determination of President Putin to double-down on his invasion of Ukraine, anxiety is inevitable.
What will this war mean for our daily lives? The travel industry, rocked by Covid-19, will again be hit as airlines are banned in a tit-for-tat fashion; record-high energy prices will climb still higher; fracking for gas and nuclear energy will be back on the agenda; there will be more government spending on the military; the economic impact will mean even more money printing by governments; inflation at a high level will be with us for years. With luck that won’t spill over into hyperinflation, which is defined as prices rising by 50% each month.
I fervently hope that this latest Cold War remains in deep freeze. The alternative is too ghastly to contemplate.
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