The immediate approach of winter is already causing Europe's citizens, who were very accustomed to the welfare state despite the blows of successive crises, to see the lion's share of energy shortages, along with many other hardships that they can only guess at for the time being. There are already some who outline the possibility of a nuclear holocaust, which for the moment is no more than a threat of the dialectic of war with little prospect of being consummated in reality except, of course, an uncontainable access of madness.
What Europe should really be seriously concerned about are other, much more looming threats. The first of these is the maintenance of its own unity, which has so far held up despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's many attempts to undermine it. The head of EU diplomacy himself, Josep Borrell, asked this question during a conference at the Carlos de Amberes Foundation in Madrid, recalling that "there is already one country that is asking for a review in December as to whether sanctions against Russia should continue to be applied", in a clear reference to Hungary. Maintaining the firmness shown so far, which has perhaps been Putin's biggest surprise in attacking Ukraine, will be essential if Europe wants to safeguard its freedoms, and therefore the welfare state it has enjoyed until now.
Among the bombs at the Kremlin leader's disposal is one that could be lethal for European unity: that of a mass stampede of African citizens, subjected to brutal famine, which, together with global warming and persistent droughts, could project millions of human beings into the EU at a stroke. Borrell himself pointed out at the same forum that "more than a hundred merchant ships, loaded with millions of tonnes of wheat, are stranded in the Black Sea because of the desperate slowness of Russian cargo verifiers". Food rotting in the holds and preventing entire populations in Africa from satisfying their hunger, fuelling revolts, destabilising the continent and driving those who can to flee in search of better horizons, which they believe they will find in the EU.
Widening Europe's vision of the world
Is Europe and each of its partners and citizens prepared to give up a large part of their well-being to prevent the destabilisation of Africa and to receive, welcome and integrate the tens of millions of Africans who may arrive en masse on its shores, in numbers far greater than those known until now? This is not only a question for governments, but also for each and every European who shapes national public opinion and the opinion that will ultimately prevail in the EU. It seems that this opinion is not yet sufficiently mature to assume that it has to broaden its vision of the world and convince itself that a real Copernican turn is needed.
Just as it took the challenge of China and the war in Ukraine to convince Europe of the mistake of basing its prosperity on cheap energy from Russia and business opportunities in China, so the EU should be quick to demonstrate in Africa that its model of society is far better than the one that promises them efficiency and infrastructure without examining details of corruption and respect for human rights. The same could be said of Latin America, where China is already the largest trading partner of all Latin American countries.
Those within the EU itself who are calling in ever louder tones for an end to the war are in essence calling for Ukraine's surrender. They do not want to see that Europe is staking its own freedom, the root of its prosperity, on the country Putin wants to reduce to rubble because, far beyond its security, the real fear of the Kremlin occupier is that the successful experience of a free Ukraine will be the unwanted mirror in which Russian citizens will question the tyranny of the Putinist regime.
Europe has long since eradicated the word "sacrifice", something that entails enormous effort for others to the detriment of one's own benefit, from its everyday language. Putin is imposing it on the millions of Ukrainians who are losing their home, their land, their family and their lives by serving as a dam to the rest of Europe. Believing that a supposedly imposed peace deal would stop Russia is as delusional as believing Putin's word when he said his troops were just doing training exercises in Belarus with no intention of crossing the border.
Benjamin Franklin harangued his troops before one of the clashes with British troops in the Thirteen Colonies by stating that "if we do not go together they will hang us separately". It is time for Europeans to realise that they are facing the greatest collective challenge they have ever faced in their entire life history. And that "blood, sweat, tears and toil" is much more than Winston Churchill's most famous harangue.