At MSC, West seeks to “rebalance” the current security situation – DW – 02/20/2023

The royal Bayerischer Hof runs out in just enough room to grow Munich Security Conference (MSC), which has long been held at the hotel in southern Germany. Seasoned participants note how MSC fit in one room. Nowadays, trailed by security groups and the press, delegations from all over the world race through crowded aisles and jostle for free seats in lobbies and parlors.

The Bayerischer Hof in Munich has struggled to contain the growing MSC, as it tries to include more perspectives from around the world.Photo: William Noah Glucroft/DW

For Christoph Heusgen, a former adviser to former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and chair of this year’s conference, the growing list of participants is a sign of inclusion in the annual gathering of foreign policy elites focused on the West. Promote to focus this year on Voices and needs From the Global South, an umbrella term for what most humans simply call home.

“North-South-South-North cooperation is essential,” he said, leading a panel discussion on the issue.

But from the main stages to the fringes, critics have pointed to fundamental flaws in the “world order” that make cooperation difficult and perpetuate power imbalances between rule-makers and rule-makers in the world. Western leaders themselves say they want to address it, as they face a growing list of crises that require multilateral agreement.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo told the audience shortly after Heusgen walked off the stage that doing so would require a “critical look at the institutions” made by the West.

Western square peg, world round hole

“Many of the political institutions that govern the world today were created to solve post-war problems,” said Akufo-Addo. Problems of redevelopment and revival of Europe after the devastation of B World War II. “

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo (seated, front left) told the MSC panel, which includes Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, that global finance tools need to change if the “global system” is to meet the needs of more countries today.Photo: William Noah Glucroft/DW

African, Asian, and Latin American countries, many of which had been European colonies until then, were largely excluded from the postwar framework. The United Nations itself, around which many small nations rally in the hope of keeping the more powerful nations at bay, is a reflection of the world as it was in 1945.

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Eight decades later, the cracks in the status quo are hard to ignore. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in his MSC speech quoting Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar that a world order built on Euro-Atlantic needs helped nurture the feeling that “Europe’s problems are the world’s problems, but the world’s problems are not Europe’s problems”.

“He has a point,” added Schulz.

MSC 2023: The Ukraine War was a ‘wake-up call’ for Europe

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Russia’s war against UkraineThe mixed global reaction to it has highlighted this injustice. As the talks at the MSC have shown, rarely has this affected Western powers more than now, as they seek broader support in isolating Russia as well as Confronting Moscow’s ally, China.

Give and take

To get it, countries all over the world – and some have it become strong By themselves – they are looking for support in return. Throughout the MSC, participants expressed frustration with the Western tone towards deafness Climate changedebt relief, health care, food and energy security, while pushing them to care more about the fate of Ukraine or American supremacy in the Pacific.

The COVID-19 pandemic is the latest transnational crisis that is leaving a sour taste in the mouths of many countries belonging to the Global South. They shout hypocrisy, as the rich North has largely failed to practice the liberal values ​​of free trade and open markets it has been preaching for decades. Unequal response to the pandemic, such asvaccine suppliesis one of the reasons why some governments are rethinking their relationships.

“Partners are less interested than the West would have thought in building these relationships,” Daniela Schwarzer, executive director of the Open Society Foundations in Europe and Eurasia, told DW. “And if they are economically interested, they are more aware of their strengths.”

while, China offers a competing world view Schwarzer said that, though full of contradictions and false promises, he became an alternative.

“There’s a whole lot of countries that fall in between now and then, that don’t naturally fall into the Western camp,” Schwarzer said.

More complex than the ‘Cold War’

To some, this dynamic might look like a new Cold War, with China replacing the Soviet Union, and a group of non-aligned countries sitting between Western, democratic, and Eastern authoritarian blocs. This is widely the view of US President Joe Biden, which is very much MSC echo in the report Released prior to the conference.

“It’s very natural that you try to judge things by your knowledge and experience,” Tobias Lindner, state secretary at the German Foreign Ministry, told DW. “I think what’s happening now is something new.”

Lindner said that while US policy appears to coalesce around bipartisan hawks on China, the German view is more “nuanced.” Despite the fundamental differences, “we have to keep in mind that some challenges around the world, such as the climate crisis, can only be solved with China.”

He added, “This means that we also need to identify the spaces in which there is an option to partner, taking into account this systemic competition.”

Remains open question If the European Union can formulate its own attitude towards China, the United States is pushing its allies to reduce their dependence, viewing close relations with Russia as a warning. China was Germany’s largest merchandise trading partner in 2021, according to the Foreign Ministry, which called China a “major partner in Europe”.

break from the past

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, German officials have embarked on a journey of travel strengthening ties that straddle the autocratic democratic divide. Double global awareness has a lot to do with Realpolitik to secure energy supplies And economic growth also offers more thoughtful statements about the universality of “many values ​​of the rules-based international order,” Lindner said.

“The worst thing you could do is continue to care about bilateral relations with some countries if that’s the case [only] fits your purpose.”

The central question in Munich was how and how to build something new. Western leaders hoped that their counterparts in countries on the receiving end of the world’s “rules” would not be guided by a sense of historical injustice, however justified.

One way to demonstrate a break with the past, says Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, CEO of the South African Institute of International Affairs, is for those countries to take an active role in shaping the future.

“We shouldn’t put it into perspective if we take a stand, we take a stand with the West,” she told DW from Johannesburg ahead of the MSC. “We take a stand with certain principles.”

In this regard, when a country like South Africa takes its place in the worldHowever, the rules she adheres to must be more important than her feelings towards the United States.

“What Russia did is wrong,” she said, and this is reason enough to condemn the war.

Edited by: J. Wingard

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