Munich Security Conference, February 17-19

Warmongering, Illusionmongering and Troublemaking

– Hilary LeBlanc –

Anti-war protest outside this year's Munich Security Conference.

Some 30,000 people gathered outside the 49th Munich Security Conference (MSC) held in Munich from February 17 to 19 to militantly oppose the U.S./NATO proxy war in Ukraine. They demanded a negotiated peace, that NATO be dismantled, and for sanctions against Russia to end. They opposed more spending on arms while social programs are neglected and cancelled.

Just as the peoples of the world are very concerned about the dangers posed by the U.S./NATO proxy war spinning out of control into a larger war or with the use of chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons, a major concern of the German people is the changes to their Constitution which permit German jackboots to once again march over the territories of other European nations. The MSC was not concerned about peace however. As host country, Germany took part in discussions that included "Spotlight: Germany's International Responsibility Revisited" and "Germany in the World." Its concern is to once again assert Germany's dominance within Europe and from this promontory, contest U.S. domination over Europe as well. Not only does it go against the verdict of the peoples of the world after World War I and World War II to end the scourge of war, but shows there is no unity within NATO either. So too France has its own aims and is seeking a negotiated settlement so as to get rid of the anti-Russia sanctions which are crippling its economy, while Britain and Canada are in lockstep with the U.S.

"NATO's eastward expansion: promise broken."

Some 40 heads of states and governments attended the MSC, including the Presidents of France, Emmanuel Macron, and Poland, Andrzej Duda, as well as Germany's Chancellor, Olaf Scholz. Also present were 90 ministers from numerous countries. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba represented Ukraine. NATO's Secretary
General Jens Stoltenberg was joined by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. China's former Foreign Minister Wang Yi, present Chair of the Foreign Policy Commission of the Communist Party of the People's Republic of China, also attended. The governments of Russia and Iran were pointedly not invited. (It was in 2007 at the MSC that Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected NATO's eastward expansion and the "almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations" by the U.S. government.) Opponents from both countries were invited, such as the Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The event was chaired by Christoph Heusgen, former Chancellor Angela Merkel's foreign policy advisor (2005-2017).

One of the main features of this year's MSC was the extent of official disinformation to deprive the peoples of an outlook on the basis of which the conflict in Ukraine can be ended and advance made in establishing relations between countries big and small in a manner that advances the cause of peace, freedom and democracy. Representatives of various countries from what is called the Global South were invited to persuade them to join the U.S./NATO coalition opposing Russia and China. The MSC claimed to be "paying due respect to the legitimate resentment that many countries of the 'Global South' have toward the existing order."

The level of irrationality can be seen in the official declaration that the world is divided between the Anglo-American liberal democracies and autocracies and that everything must be done to persuade the majority of the countries in the world to join the liberal democracies, not the autocracies. In this regard they pitted countries they call liberal democracies which defend human rights against those who they say put national sovereignty ahead of human rights. The balderdash repeated by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and the likes of Canada's Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and others supposes that institutions established by the United States after WWII are not in crisis and will prevail, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. These institutions and the so-called rules-based international order the Anglo-American imperialists imposed on the world are based on Cold War anti-communist ideology with the sole aim of undermining international law as enshrined in the United Nations, its Charter and Conventions, to establish U.S. hegemony worldwide.

The origin of consciousness and social change of human beings and entire peoples is life itself. It is societies and nature which are calling for an end to indifference, awakening the peoples to break free from remaining chained to arrangements which do not provide solutions which favour them. The leaders of the U.S., Canada, Britain and the old powers of Europe and reactionary forces are hoping for a comeback of pre-revolutionary Europe and Asia and pre-independence Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, by posing matters in a manner which is divorced from life. They themselves have become prisoners of mental images and categories which have no bearing on the direction in which societies and humanity itself are moving. Dividing the world between liberal democracies and autocracies and personalizing politics so as to present some people as evil and others as good, and issuing dictates that all countries must side with the former against the latter, is to deny that the liberal democratic institutions are in crisis and the international order they have dictated since World War II is now rejected.

Today, the very problems coming from the society and nature and the crisis of international relations reveal there is no place for the relations the U.S./NATO countries are forcing on their peoples and countries of the world. By confining themselves to their irrational rendering of their own actions and those of others, they are not only determined to destroy whatever they cannot control but have begun to prey on themselves.

The war in Ukraine was instigated by the U.S. and its aggressive military alliance NATO with the participation of Canada which has been taken over by those who dream of achieving the restoration of old Tsarist forces in Ukraine and Russia and property relations which existed prior to the Russian Revolution in 1917. These forces joined the Nazis in World War II in the name of achieving freedom. Today they are in lockstep with the U.S. to pursue their aim of crushing Russia. It is not an aim which Canadians or the peoples of the world can align with, let alone the peoples of Russia or those of Russian descent.

The U.S. has suffered repeated failures in its attempts to unite its bureaucracy and avert civil war by waging one war of aggression after the other in the last 30 years since the Cold War was brought to an end. The collapse of the former Soviet Union and people's democracies in eastern Europe did not give rise to the results the U.S. desired that all countries would accept it as indispensable nation that could rule the world with impunity. The approach taken at the MSC based on revenge, retaliation and escalation against Russia is crisis-ridden from A to Z. It brings to mind the saying: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

The MSC will not provide security because it does not address security concerns of any countries, least of all Ukraine or Russia. It rejected a negotiated settlement even though quite a few of its member countries are pushing for this in one way or another.

Various countries used the conference to justify stepped up military spending. All of it is carried out in the name of the highest ideals of peace, human rights and democracy and, to justify sanctions against Russia, in the name of "greening the economy."

As a mouthpiece for NATO, the MSC is also preparing to instigate provocations and conflict with China. For example, the panel discussion "The Other Zeitenwende: Maintaining a Balance of Power in the Indo-Pacific," featured Canada's Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly, south Korea's Foreign Minister Park Jin, Japan's Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and British foreign minister James Cleverly. Canada revealed its "Indo-Pacific Strategy" in November 2022, that is openly hostile toward China. Meanwhile, the U.S. is staging open provocations in and around Taiwan and has been trying to goad south Korea and Japan into establishing a NATO-like bloc with it in East Asia.

None of it jibes with the reality that the liberal democracies are in crisis, no longer function and cannot sort out a single problem facing their societies and the world today. The attempts by NATO countries and others to prop up the reactionary regime in Ukraine by pouring in billions of dollars of arms and blocking negotiations to resolve the conflict the U.S. and NATO have instigated with Russia is yet more evidence of this.

Calls for Stepped Up Arms Shipments to Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the opening day of the MSC. He portrayed the situation as if Ukraine is David facing Goliath. "David is now all of us, he is a whole free world. David is everyone who felt that there is no alternative but to defeat Goliath, who came to destroy our life. [...] We do not have yet the David's Sling from Israel. But I believe it is just temporarily," he said. His posturing covers up that neo-Nazis are running amok in Ukraine and that the conflict is between U.S./NATO and Russia, with the former using Ukraine as a cat's paw. He called for more weapons to be sent to Ukraine immediately, saying, "We need speed. Speed of our agreements. Speed of delivery to strengthen our sling. Speed of decisions to limit Russian potential. There is no alternative to speed."

Zelensky's ravings are increasingly seen as frantic and distraught. "There is no alternative to Ukrainian victory. There is no alternative to Ukraine in the EU. There is no alternative to Ukraine in NATO. There is no alternative to our unity," he told the MSC. The broader aim should be to "liberate Europe" and "to liberate from Russia's aggressive potential every international institution and every sphere of the world economy," he added.

For good measure, he also used this speech to fearmonger about Iran, saying it poses a nuclear threat to that region of the world.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz took his cue from Zelensky, saying countries able to send battle tanks to Ukraine should "actually do so now." This is "a responsibility that a country of Germany's size, location and economic strength has to shoulder in times like these," he said.

Scholz said Germany would "permanently" adhere to the NATO goal of spending two per cent of its GDP on defence, which it has yet to reach, despite a massive 100 billion euro special fund for military investment. Germany needs to boost its defence industry and switch to "a permanent production of the most important weapons we are using," the chancellor added.

The German chancellor said Ukraine's allies with German-made, modern Leopard 2 tanks in their stocks should join Germany in delivering them to Ukraine, adding that his government would use the MSC to "campaign intensively for this."

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius, speaking to reporters in Munich earlier in the day said, "It must be clear to everyone: It will not be possible to fulfill the tasks that lie ahead of us with barely two per cent."

Scholz also said that Germany "will do everything it can to make this decision easier for our partners," offering to provide logistical support and training for Ukrainian soldiers on the tanks. "I see this as an example of the kind of leadership which everyone is entitled to expect from Germany – and I expressly offer it to our friends and partners." News reports indicate, however, that some allies like Finland are dragging their feet on tank donations, while others like Portugal are not sending as many as Germany had hoped.

French President Emmanuel Macron also backed the call for more arms for Ukraine. "We must collectively be credible," Macron told the MSC. He said this is "the only way to make Russia come back to the negotiating table in an acceptable manner and build a sustainable peace. That is: at a time and under conditions to be chosen by Ukrainians."

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said in an interview with MSCNBC the same day, the US. "will make sure that we do everything possible within our power to strengthen Ukraine's position on the battlefield. So that if and when there are negotiations, Ukraine will be in the strongest position in a negotiation."

Executive Summary of Munich Security Report 2023

The Executive Summary of the Munich Security Report 2023 focuses on:

1. Ukraine Crisis: "A re-envisioned liberal, rules-based international order is needed to strengthen democratic resilience in an era of fierce systemic competition with autocratic regimes. But to make this vision more attractive among the wider international community and help it win the contest for the future international order, democracies must also take into account legitimate criticism and concerns among the wider international community."

2. Human Rights: "Human rights (Chapter 2) have been a major flashpoint in the growing systemic competition. China, supported by Russia, is at the forefront of broader authoritarian pushback against international human rights and the mechanisms built to protect them. The vision that Beijing is pursuing, Western observers worry, is nothing less than to create a world safe for autocracy. Among others, China seeks to ensure that collective rights, as defined and upheld by the state, take precedence over individual civil and political liberties. But disagreement on human rights is also evident within and among the democratic states of the world. Certainly influenced by the experience of Western colonialism and imperialism, many non-Western democracies show greater concern for sovereignty and non-interference than their Western counterparts, and are thus reluctant to support robust action in the name of human rights."

3. Global Infrastructures: "Global infrastructures (Chapter 3) have likewise become an important site of geopolitical competition. Democratic and autocratic camps openly compete to imbue physical and digital infrastructures with their governance visions."

4. Development Cooperation: "Development cooperation (Chapter 4) has not been spared from systemic competition either. Health and food security as well as climate finance have become key policy fields where competing narratives of a desirable development order are playing out."

5. Energy: "[T]he new energy order (Chapter 5) increasingly reflects geopolitical considerations rather than market logic. Russia's autocratic revisionism and its weaponization of fossil fuel exports have made energy dependency on autocratic great powers a major concern for Western liberal democracies. They now need to ensure that their efforts to wean themselves off Russian oil and gas do not simultaneously further increase their dependence on other autocracies, including China (for critical raw materials) and Qatar (for gas)."

6. Nuclear Threat: "Revisionist autocracies present various challenges to the nuclear order and strategic stability (Chapter 6). Most importantly, Russian threats of using nuclear weapons in the war against Ukraine have raised concerns around the globe. China has significantly invested in additional nuclear capabilities without increasing transparency. And North Korea and Iran present their own challenges to the nuclear order. Given the deteriorating security environment, democratic nuclear powers have reiterated their commitment to nuclear deterrence, while the prospects for arms control initiatives have dimmed."

(With files from MSC, Politico, AP, and Global Times. Photos: Anthurium.)

This article was published in
Volume 53 Number 1 - February 2023

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