Last weekend, the 56th annual Security Conference was held in Munich, Germany. This year nearly 500 political, economic and military leaders attended the event, while almost 4000 policemen secured the premises. Among the present guests were Sebastian Kurz, the Chancellor of Austria, Emmanuel Macron the French President, Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, and a quite crowded American delegation featuring Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, Mark Esper, Secretary of Defence and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House. The Chinese and Indian Foreign Ministers were also present.
Rising to Challenge “Westlessness”
The conference’s main topic was “Westlessness”, inferring to the growing rift between the United States and the European Union. Not only these two global powers have a different view of international crises. European countries cannot share one vision for the future too. The problem is, as Anne Applebaum wrote: “the crisis of Western values at home has a bloodier, more violent face abroad.”
The report also named the 10 conflicts to watch in 2020. Among these was the never-ending conflict in Afghanistan, the fight in Yemen, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Libya, Kashmir, the inflation crisis in Venezuela, Ukraine’s Eastern Donbas and several conflicts related to the United States. The report raises the question over the Mediterranean area. This is where the Libyan crisis is starting to get to the point where Syria is now. Regarding Syria, US foreign policy was also mentioned. Whether it was a good move to pull out all US troops from Syria or this was not the right move at the right time, is still up for debte.
The Highlight of the Event
Throughout the conference agreement was rare. The one thing everyone agreed on was that President Macron was the one who tried to join forces and form a united Europe because, as we all know, a house divided against itself cannot stand. Macron’s main idea is to create an independent European Union. Independent mostly to America. As the President said: “We were used to an international order that had been based on Western hegemony since the 18th century […]. Things change.” But the other side is counting on their allies. “We cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East,” said Vice President Mike Pence in 2019.
The US needs its allies with its economic war with China. The White House relies on Europe for example within the fight with the 5G network infrastructure that the Chinese company Huawei tries to build. As the US went so far as to say that these Chinese companies could pose a national security threat by spying on the command of Beijing.
As a summary, we can tell that this time the MSC came at a crucial time, as Tom Wright put it in a Washington Post article. The US was in an impeachment trial and Brexit was an ongoing process. Both sides of the Atlantic had their own problems. After the conference, everyone was looking at Germany’s future.
The author of this article is Aniko Soltesz, International Security and Safety Policy Undergraduate student and member of the International Diplomatic Student Association (IDSA).