| Willy Brandt School of Public Policy

Erfurt Transatlantic Dialogue: Contrasting Different Angles on the War in Ukraine

The U.S. Consulate General, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Brandt School invited students and a broader public to debate Russia’s war in Ukraine and the future of European Security Policy on October 24, 2022.

The Erfurt Transatlantic Dialogue brought together three distinguished speakers and guests from Thuringian universities and the general Erfurt public in a lively fishbowl.

Ken Toko, United States of America Consul General to Leipzig represented the U.S. perspective while the ‘German view’ came from Dr. Barbara Kunz, senior researcher at IFSH Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg. Alejandra Ortiz-Ayala, PhD, head of the Brandt School’s Conflict Studies and Management track, brought to the conversation a voice from the Global South. Joining the fishbowl format, though-provoking inputs came from participants hailing from Ukraine, Iraq, India, Colombia or Germany.

The different perspectives highlighted a number of dilemmas and contradictions that most Western discussions tend to ignore thus far. Among them were questions of the war’s “collateral damage”, especially for the Global South with food and energy shortages, skyrocketing prices and a return of coal use. Opinions also differed on arms exports into conflict zones, an issue that has long been highly debated in Germany. The discussion also showed that many of the tools and concepts developed in current peace research and often recommended to the so-called Global South are now given little consideration. One reason might be the strong focus on intrastate conflicts in research. Opinions on whether the distinction between intrastate and interstate war are relevant for policy options, differed as well. Another point of contestation centered on human vs. national security, and whether that might not even be the same for Ukrainians facing Russian aggression. 

The debate demonstrated that there is no simple or convenient solution at hand. It offered an excellent opportunity for participants to ponder the extent to which arguments made contradicted and challenged their own views. The call, all participants concluded, is on building bridges between the different schools of thought to deal with the war and all its repercussions.

(Willy Brandt School of Public Policy)
C19 - Research Building "Weltbeziehungen" / C19.02.04