The 51st Munich Security Conference (MSC) kicks off on February 6. For three days military and political leaders, scholars, diplomats and journalists will discuss the acute problems of international security, global challenges to peace and stability on the planet and the ways to solve controversial issues. The Russian delegation will be headed by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The Munich Security Conference (MSC) has published the first Munich Security Report (MSR), an annual digest on critical questions and important trends in the field of international security policy. This year's inaugural edition is called «Collapsing Order, Reluctant Guardians?» Reading it one can see that the paper is an attempt to direct the discussions and pre-empt the conclusions. The West is at a loss - this obvious fact strikes an eye. Last time nobody could predict what was to be expected in the ensuing year – the sudden rise of the Islamic State or the coup in Ukraine triggering civil war. That’s why the main question of the paper is ‘what are we going to miss out again?
It’s hard to understand why the authors write about failing to predict “the revolution of dignity in Ukraine” when the whole world could see that this “revolution” was prepared and guided by the West. The Islamic State did not come from nowhere. CIA director John Brennan, a veteran of fight against terrorism under President Obama, studied at the American University in Cairo in 1975-1976. He can freely speak Arabic. If he were as talkative as Valentin Nalivaichenko (the head of Ukraine’s security service), he would have certainly told a lot of interesting things.
One way or another, the crises in Ukraine and the Middle East are in focus of the MSC report. The same stuff about Russia violating international law, occupying Ukrainian territory, waging a hybrid war and posing a potential threat to European states with Russians making up part of their population, including the Baltic States. The paper expresses support for economic sanctions against Russia while putting into doubt their effectiveness as they have failed to change the Russia’s foreign policy. The document mentions the “exceptionalism” of the United States and its readiness to carry out the role of world policeman etc. The report cites leading American politicians saying that the US is still the world leader. These statements are put into doubt by Europeans. It’s true; the military potential of the United States is great but economic woes and psychological battle fatigue accumulated since the times of Bush tenure limit American crisis response capability. The United States possesses the potential to destabilize many countries of the world but it finds it much harder to carry out the mission of peace keeping.
It poses a hard question before Europe. The US is becoming a less reliable ally of the old continent with each passing year. Its selfishness and treachery are becoming more evident. The United States is trying to drag the European Union into the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on its conditions. America wants Europe to spend more on defense with Europeans closely tied to NATO to remain under American command. The United States kindle fire in the areas near the southern and eastern flanks of the European Union making the organization face alone the humanitarian and social repercussions of civil wars, including flows of refugees. There is more to it. When it comes to Ukraine, Europe does what it is told to do. Some time ago terrorists acting under the Islam banner committed a terrorist act in the very heart of Europe – Paris killing 12 and wounding 11 people. Europe reacted by wearing Je Suis Charlie T-shirts and publishing cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. Only time will tell if Europe is really able to meet the strategic challenge.
America simultaneously fights and supports terrorism, but Russia could become an indispensable ally in countering this evil. But the alliance is out of question till Europe keeps on dancing to the US tune implementing the policy aimed at Russia’s isolation and economic debilitation.
The changes in the relationship are possible if Europe realizes that the Islamic State is the real threat unlike Russia which is defending the right of the people in the Donbass for self-determination while preserving the Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Europeans should think twice about continuing, or even making tougher, anti-Russian sanctions.
The Munich security conference is a good platform for bringing Russia and Europe together. It can bring practical results if Europe restores the ability to act on its own.