55th Annual Munich Security Conference

Collapse of Cold War Arrangements and Liberal Democracy Creates Crisis at War Conference

Anti-war demonstration in Munich, February 16, 2019, at the site of the warmongering Munich Security Conference.

The 55th annual Munich Security Conference (MSC) is being held February 15-17. It follows a related conference, the Munich Cyber Security Conference (MCSC), held on February 14. The MSC claims to be "the world's leading forum for debating international security policy." Participants are said to include some 450 "high-profile and senior decision-makers as well as thought-leaders from around the world, including heads of state, ministers, leading personalities of international and non-governmental organizations, high-ranking representatives of industry, media, academia, and civil society." This is similar to the Halifax International Security Forum's sanitized portrayal of itself, which covers up its aggressive nature. The warmongering objectives of the MSC are not lost on the German people and other peoples of Europe, who are again holding anti-war actions throughout the conference, as they have done in previous years.

The MSC was founded on the basis of a Cold War outlook, initially by the U.S., Germany and other NATO members, to advance U.S. and NATO interests, especially opposition to the peoples' striving for empowerment. Its participants typically include many responsible for imperialist aggression and war crimes. According to this outlook, the peoples of the world and their striving for justice, national liberation and the flourishing of the human person are not even considered, even though it is working peoples of the world and their striving that are the decisive factor which opens the path of societies to progress.

"We don't want your wars!"

Preoccupation with Lack of Reliable Partner in the Trump
Presidency to Uphold Liberal Democracy

Each year, the MSC issues a security report, in which it details what it considers to be important issues and how NATO and allied countries should respond. The title of this year's report, "The Great Puzzle: Who Will Pick Up the Pieces?" conveys the MSC's dismay at the state of the world today, where the old Cold War arrangements and liberal democratic institutions can no longer be made to function. As one reads the report, it becomes clear the crisis facing the European wing of NATO is that it considers it no longer has a reliable partner in the U.S. under the current Trump administration, and therefore has to "pick up the pieces."

In the report's foreword, MSC Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger puts the finger on the U.S. President's attempts to create a tri-polar axis which leaves Europe out of the equation. He states that "the world is not just witnessing a series of smaller and bigger crises, but that there is a more fundamental problem. Indeed, we seem to be experiencing a reshuffling of core pieces of the international order. A new era of great power competition is unfolding between the United States, China, and Russia, accompanied by a certain leadership vacuum in what has become known as the liberal international order."

Others are quoted in the report expressing opinions in a similar vein:

"Germany's four-term Chancellor Angela Merkel concedes that 'the well-tried and familiar framework of order is under strong pressure at the moment.' According to Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, the situation is even worse: 'That world order that we once knew, had become accustomed to, and sometimes felt comfortable in -- this world order no longer exists.' Many also believe that what is known as the liberal international order has been damaged to such a degree that it is hard to return to the status quo ante. As French President Emmanuel Macron puts it, this is not 'an interlude in history before things return to normal [...] because we are currently experiencing a crisis of the effectiveness and principles of our contemporary world order, which will not be able to get back on track or return to how it functioned before.'"

The report is based on a pretense that the international order subject to globalization is somehow democratic and rules-based if only the Trump administration would play fair. The "leadership vacuum" mentioned in the foreword refers to the U.S. under the Trump presidency, which is explicitly and repeatedly referred to in the report:

- "[...] the U.S. effort to rally 'the noble nations of the world to build a new liberal order' and to oppose authoritarian great powers would be far more credible if President Trump and his administration did not display an irritating enthusiasm for strongmen across the globe."

- "The disdain for international institutions and agreements has repeatedly pitted the U.S. against its major allies in recent years. What these allies see as the only way to tackle global problems, Trump rejects as 'the ideology of globalism.'"

- "In this context, both analysts and policymakers have called on the major liberal-democratic allies of the United States to compensate for the lack of stable U.S. leadership. Countries usually mentioned are the other members of the G7 -- Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom -- as well as Australia, South Korea, and the European Union as a whole."

Those the MSC calls on to step up in the absence of that U.S. are also mired in their own crisis and the worldwide crisis of what are called  the liberal democratic institutions. Take Canada for example, where the cartel political parties block the people from having any say in the affairs which affect them, and more and more the government is one of police powers.

MSC Stuck in the End-of-History Outlook

The MSC, NATO and others are part of the forces that subscribe to the end-of-history thesis, which considers liberal democracy to be the final stage of human society. It is in crisis because real life reveals that liberal democracy, which is supposed to underpin the international system, has failed. Even recognizing this much, it still sees no other option but to try to reanimate liberal democracy, because the end-of-history outlook provides no alternatives. In its report, the MSC writes:

"This is thus the great puzzle: Are we witnessing a great reshuffling of the pieces of the international order? Will the defenders of the post-1945 international order be successful in preserving its main elements and piecing at least some of them back together? Or will the world continue to move closer to, as former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has warned of, a 'perfect storm,' the cumulative effect of several crises happening simultaneously that could destroy the old international system before we have even begun to build a new one?" (TML emphasis.)

The MSC's desperation is such that it goes so far as to write:

"In his Prison Notebooks, the Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci wrote: 'The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.' In a way, this is an apt description of world order today."

Quoting Gramsci does not save the MSC and the virulently anti-communist forces it represents from their dilemma because they are not in the service of the New. The crucial part of the analysis, which is properly attributed to Karl Marx, not Gramsci, is that the working class must constitute the nation and vest sovereignty in the people. It must complete the democratic revolution so as to eliminate the role of privilege once and for all in decision-making. This the MSC dares not say.

Promotion of Foreign Interference and Imperialist Aggression

Much of the MSC's report is preoccupied with the role of China and Russia in the world today which makes its preoccupation essentially no different to those of the Trump administration. China's activities for trade and foreign relations, such as the Belt and Road Initiative, are deemed to encroach on NATO territory and constitute a threat to NATO influence and hegemony over Europe and Asia as well as Africa.

Likewise, the overwhelming decision of the people of Crimea to join Russia is turned on its head and called "Russia's annexation of Crimea," with hysteria created about "Russian troops" being spotted operating in Crimea.

The governments of other countries, such as Syria and Venezuela, are similarly slandered, to justify foreign interference and regime change. So too, the peoples of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean are viewed with condescension as "fair game." In this regard, the MSC reveals its concern to effectively compete with the U.S. interests to acquire the spoils for the  narrow imperialist private interests it seeks to serve against those of the U.S. imperialists.

In other words, all that do not or cannot be made to submit to U.S. or NATO dictate, are singled out by the MSC.

What is clear is that the world faces great dangers during this period when the old arrangements have degenerated, and the working peoples of the world and their organizations continue their striving to bring into being new human-centred arrangements that put an end to exploitation, oppression and war. Bodies like the MSC cannot provide an answer, and are in fact part of what is blocking the new from coming into being and pose a real danger to those forces working for social progress. Only the working people can provide the renewal that humanity requires.

"Ban arms exports, " "No German weapons for the war on Yemen."

Protestors carry banners that point out that war makes refugees, and call on people to stand up for the rights of refugees to make Munich a secure city.

"Atomic weapons out of Germany!"

"No mid-range missiles in Europe!"


MSC Public Events

On the eve of the conference, the MSC said it would hold a public discussion event titled "#MSC2019 -- From Cold War to Star Wars: How to Deal With the Arms Race to Space?" at Hotel Bayerischer Hof, the venue of the Munich Security Conference.

Other public sessions include:

- NATO Defense Contributions: Is Germany Stepping Up?

- A British Perspective: Decoding Politics in the Age of Brexit -- with Tony Blair

- Fascism: A Warning -- An Evening with Madeleine Albright

- Germany's Role in World Politics

(Photos: Aktionsbündnis gegen die NATO-Sicherheitskonferenz)

This article was published in

Volume 49 Number 5 - February 16, 2019

Article Link:
55th Annual Munich Security Conference: Collapse of Cold War Arrangements and Liberal Democracy Creates Crisis at War Conference - Nick Lin


Website:  www.cpcml.ca   Email:  editor@cpcml.ca