What does the Munich Security Conference tell us?

At the Munich Security Conference US Vice President Mike Pence criticised the Nato allies for spending too little on defence, threatened to end the alliance with Germany over Nord Stream 2, and lambasted Iran. Commentators all agree that this harsh rhetoric could be dangerous.

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Kommersant (RU) /

Aggression as a profitable business

US foreign policy is aiming for confrontation instead of solving problems, Kommersant observes:

“Trump is demanding everything from everyone and right away: from Iran a radical change in its domestic and foreign policy, from China that it renounce the industrial policy it has worked on for decades, from Europe that it stop selling competitive goods to the US. ... Many of these demands are humiliating and not even meant to be taken seriously by anyone. ... North Korea won't destroy its nuclear warheads and Russia won't get rid of its 9M729 missiles. To make such demands is basically asking for long-term confrontations. But that seems to be the goal, because confrontation serves three purposes: it produces orders for the US defence industry, it redirects trade routes to pro-US countries and it boosts demand for Washington's services in terms of protecting its clients.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

The US as a major risk factor

The US should take the change of mood in Europe seriously, Helsingin Sanomat stresses:

“During Trump's term in office the relations with Europe have become an ever more important topic in US domestic policy, and a means of dividing the country. This constellation is not good for Europe, but it's difficult for it to extract itself from it since the Trump administration's statements in international arenas are made in an undiplomatic 'America-first' style aimed at wooing the American public. ... According to the latest polls the Germans and French now see the US as a bigger security risk than Russia or China. Naturally, from Russia's point of view the trend set in motion by the Trump administration is good, but in the US the mood among the country's key allies should be cause for serious concern.”

Politiken (DK) /

Trump hasn't grasped the spirit of Nato

For Politiken Merkel's speech in Munich speaks volumes:

“Is it really necessary for the leader of Germany, Angela Merkel, to have to remind the US of the relevance of Nato? Could it be true that Merkel quoted the words of an American senator - a Republican - who said that multilateralism can be complicated but it's better than sitting at home alone? Did he [Trump] understand that we are risking the breakdown of the international order on which European security and cooperation has been based for years, during the Cold War and afterwards? You don't make threats with these things. But unfortunately that was Merkel's ominous warning at this weekend's international security conference in Munich.”

Ria Nowosti (RU) /

Sidelined in global politics

After scrutinising the host's Munich Security Report Ria Novosti sees the dilemma of a Europe pushed into the second row geopolitically:

“In the opinion of the authors the US is losing its role as global hegemon and entering 'a new era of great power competition' for which the EU is not prepared. A remarkable admission that testifies to the fact that the EU is excluded from the competition between the leading powers, which include only the US, Russia and China. In view of the recent attempts of the Europeans to create a common army the authors write of the need for 'strategic autonomy' for Europe and its foreign policy. ... But many Europeans are still afraid of the prospect of gaining even a hint of independence or autonomy.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Europe no longer bowing to the US

De Volkskrant takes a more positive view of the state of Europe:

“Where [US Vice President] Pence sees a strong Western order, Merkel is openly asking whether this order isn't falling apart. Two years after Trump took office the Europeans are no longer scared by every tweet coming out of the White House. They have to look for ways to assert themselves in a world that they believe can get along fine without American leadership. Talk is now of European 'strategic autonomy', 'flexible multilateralism' and new forms of cooperation between 'willing countries'.”

Polityka (PL) /

A script from times gone by

The Munich Security Conference is an expression of an irrational yearning for the past, Polityka finds:

“The truth is that it is the strongest - not just militarily - who feel most at ease in a world with weakened rules and a tight order. This is why the representatives of the world powers the US, China, Russia and Germany feel best on the Munich stage while the other participants have expressed their fears that the world that gives them a sense of security has apparently disappeared. ... The audience in Munich has its own taste, it likes the old, familiar actors. And perhaps these actors don't know how to play any other role than their old one.”