Alwaght- The 55th Munich Security Conference is underway in Germany while the world security is now more shaky-grounded compared to the years before, with governments showing just dim outlook of cooperation to preserve the world peace and stability.
This year’s gathering, with an unprecedented representation, has ahead a wide range of issues to discuss from the European defense policy, Western-Russian relations, and Ukraine crisis to the West Asia conflicts, the crisis in Venezuela, and the Chinese-American heated competition in East Asia.
Breakdown of liberal global order
The conference this year comes amid widening gaps between the US and Europe. The MSC was launched in 1963 with the aim to bolster unity among the NATO member states in the middle of the Cold War. After the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, the conference expanded the representation. First, the Eastern European states took part and then it was open for representation from all over the world.
Definitely, Trump White House policies are the main cause of broadening division between the two sides of the Atlantic. Trump’s policies ranged from his threats to pull out of NATO and his call for EU to increase its NATO spending to the trade war and a tendency to cut Washington’s commitments to the European, and global, security. The differences are so deep now between Washington and Brussels that they showed themselves in Trump’s failure to reach his stated goals at Warsaw anti-Iranian conference amid Europe’s poor welcome to the event.
This gap, stemming from EU’s eroding reliance on the US ability to provide security and military supports in the long term in the face of risks rather than from EU’s way of viewing Iran, also made its way to the Germany conference. The US Vice-president Mike Pence addressed the conference saying that it was time for the European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and stop measures to “break” the anti-Tehran embargo. Pence urged Europeans to ramp up NATO budget, and emphasized that the EU defense funds were not enough as they were not devoting enough resources to their militaries.
The remarks did not go without answer, however. The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, highlighting a coordinated movement of the European states for the good of their interests, said the reciprocal tariffs on the US steel and aluminum and also taking a common stance on the Iran nuclear deal show that the European countries can unanimously defend their interests. The EU new approach to the security independence, which is triggering heated debates at Munich event as the experts wonder what the “strategic independence” is and if the security integrity with the US can go on under a sheer economic competition, is getting close bonds to another significant topic of the meeting: The US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) with Russia which can also compromise the European security.
Trump’s pullout of the 1987 pact with Moscow unleashes the unavoidable risk of a devastating nuclear confrontation. Europe can be caught in the crossfire as it hosts part of the US nuclear missiles, something enlarging the unhappiness with Trump’s policy among the European states. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in his address of MSC said that “Europeans have been pushed into a meaningless rivalry” with Russia.” He, calling on some of the countries to change coercive measures— apparently the US is meant here—, Lavrov said the Russian President Vladimir Putin repeatedly told of Moscow readiness to discuss the INF treaty with the US but so far Washington has not responded positively to the offers.
Another part of the EU-US differences, which marks the end of the liberal global order that was set up in the past decades, is the simmering rise of the right-wing politics in the EU after the British exit from the bloc which is targeting the EU’s unionistic nature and is backed by the White House leaders. The debate on the nature and cause of Western populism and rightism emergence and the vague EU future is accompanied by a criticism of Washington address of the phenomenon. In a related comment, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Trump administration policies had collapsed into tiny parts” the US-led liberal global order.
Delicate global order
The global status quo and the examination of the biggest risks posing threats to the peace and security across the world have always been a key part of the MSC addresses and debates, with each politician and representative from various countries making clear their state’s stance on the global issues. What was clear, however, at this year’s Munich event was a lack of a discourse and effective and reliable instruments for crisis management that resulted in increased distrust affecting such important issues as Minsk II agreement on Ukraine, the US-Russia relations, the relatively constant confrontation between Turkey and the PKK militant organization, the Azerbaijan-Armenian tensions over disputed Karabakh region, disputes over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the ethnic frictions in the Balkans, Israeli-Palestinian disputes, Indo-Pakistani tensions over Kashmir, Rohingya minority massacre in Myanmar, North Korea nuclear crisis, Qatar diplomatic crisis, Saudi-caused humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and the Afghanistan peace talks. Add to these challenges the increasing terrorist attacks around the world, cyber-attacks, and the in-the-making arms race in the space.