War and conflicts discussed at security conference

Henry

The recently concluded international security conference in Munich, Germany is the counterpart of the more famous World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. It deals, as the name says, with international security, conflicts and their management.

It is presented privately and is primarily a conference for the exchange of viewpoints and debate – no binding decisions can be made, only recommendations are made. However, similar to the WEF, it prepares policy, is attended by the most influential players worldwide and is important for building networks and discovering emerging leaders and trends.

Representatives of states, international organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU) as well as numerous non-governmental organizations were represented there. The conference has been held annually since 1964.

The big topic at this year’s conference was still the war between Russia and Ukraine. The war between Israel and Hamas as well as the conflict in the Middle East, cyber security, the relations between the West and China, the future of NATO and the relations between the USA and Europe were also important points of discussion.

Regarding the war in Ukraine, this country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky made a plea at the security conference for more financial and military support from his country to prevent Russia from winning the war and thereby also directly threatening NATO states. Europe did commit to new weapons and financial support. However, enthusiasm for Ukraine has waned. There are more and more voices that say that Ukraine cannot win the war and negotiations on a ceasefire are now the chosen route.

Russia has decided to go all in and is producing its own weapons, or getting them from other mutt states like North Korea. Nor do the sanctions bite as hard as initially expected. Russia is playing for time, knowing that its reserves are far greater than Ukraine’s, and that Western support is waning. This is particularly evident in the USA, where the Republican majority in the House of Representatives recently voted against new aid for Ukraine.

The pressure on Israel to end its campaign against Hamas is also increasing. Images of refugees and cities that have been flattened are sent out into the world. However, Israel’s campaign is successful and many Hamas terrorists and their military bases have already been destroyed. It would be fatal to stop it now, before Hamas is completely destroyed. Experience teaches that Hamas always loses through a war, but wins through a ceasefire, because it gives it the opportunity to build up its reserves again.

Another important issue that was dealt with is the question of the relationship within NATO – especially between the USA on the one hand, and the European member states on the other. For a long time, Europe was used to sheltering under the wing of the USA and relying on this superpower’s army for its own defense.

In the past, European countries have often reduced their defense budgets, faithful to the thinking of the “end of history”, and relying on their big brother USA. President Biden still works according to the old reading that the US stands up for everyone in NATO. The likely Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who may become the next president again, has already indicated that he expects much more contributions from Europe. Likewise that the US will not defend countries within NATO that neglect their militaries and place no value on self-defense.