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Nearing the End: Collective Ruin and Impressions of the 2023 Munich Security Conference

 *Bu yazı 06/03/2023 tarihinde yayınlanmıştır.

 Doç.Dr. Güray ALPAR/SDE Başkanı


In the evaluation we made after the Munich Security Conference held on February 18-20 last year, we put forward the collective helplessness experienced in the post-Cold War period in the face of the developing situation and titled "announcement of the collapse of the conference" (Alpar, February 21, 2022).

When the content of the conference, which was held for the 59th time under these ruins on 17-19 February 2023, is analyzed, it becomes clear that the event went beyond despair. While it is stated here that the old order has become completely bankrupt and ineffective, unfortunately, it is seen that there is neither the slightest proposal nor an attempt for a solution. This means that the conference has lost its dignity.

Except for the 1991 Gulf War and the 1997 conference chairmanship change, the Munich Security Conference, which has been held regularly since 1963 (the conference organized as the "International Military Sciences Meeting" or "Transatlantic Family Meeting" in the first years of its organization, the "Munich Conference for Security Policies" in 1994, Since 2008, it has started to be performed with its current name) its main purpose; to create an international consensus channel in the fields of security and foreign policy by bringing together different actors. In this sense, it was aimed to solve the emerging crises through peace and thus to establish security.

However, when the views put forward at the conference in the last few years are evaluated, it is perceived that by going beyond these aims, it is not aimed to achieve peace in a sense, but to cause crises in particular. As such, the implicit purpose of the Munich Security Conferences is the transatlantic world and the global power that controls it; and it comes to mind to keep the economic, political and security dominance permanent. This issue has to be kept in mind especially in terms of pointing out the crises that may occur in the future.

Russia, which has been invited since 1999, was not included in the conference held last year, and this was the biggest mistake. Last year, even before the Russians entered Ukraine, President of Ukraine Zelensky said in his speech at the beginning of the conference that “NATO countries must be honest about whether or not to accept Ukraine”, while desperately waiting for a solution, countries that gave hope to Ukraine retreated to a corner and had never done anything. They were talking about unprecedented, massive sanctions against Russia, which were obviously not working. At this conference, which was held at an extraordinary time when the world was experiencing great depressions, while the channels of dialogue with Russia for peace should be kept open, Russia's attack on Ukraine, which was provoked by the direction of the Anglo-Saxon front. It was clear that the main purpose in this was to create a public opinion against Russia. In this way, the European public opinion came under the control of the USA, and with the sanctions imposed, the governments of European countries were rendered unable to act separately from the USA, especially in the fields of armament and energy. However, the title of the report at the end of the conference in 2022 was “Reversing the Flow: Forgetting Learned Helplessness”. Sadly, what happened next was the exact opposite. In other words, as the flow could not be reversed, European countries would be put under even deeper despair and dependence.

It was a mistake not to invite Russia and Iran to this year's conference. Contrary to the previous years, the interest of the public and the press to the conference was rather dim. The attendance seemed to be large in number, but there was hardly anyone who spoke effectively. Participation seemed to be just for the sake of participating. More than 50 Members of the House of Representatives and Senators attended the conference, which the US President did not attend, along with Vice President Kamala Harris. Alongside the NATO Secretary General, the Presidents of France and Poland and the British Prime Minister; The German Chancellor, EU Commission President and High Representative for Foreign Relations and Security Policy, more than 40 heads of state and government, and around 100 foreign and defense ministers attended the conference, where China was represented by Communist Party Foreign Relations Commission Director Wang Yi. President of Ukraine Zelensky took part in the opening online this year, as he did last year.

The highlights of the conference were as follows:

-In his speech, Zelensky emphasized that Ukraine not only defends its own territory, but also the security interests and values ​​of the Western world, and stated that the West should maximize its weapons aid to his country in order to get results against Russia. As the war with Russia filled a year, the country that suffered the most and seemed helpless was clearly Ukraine.

-The Vice President of the USA stated that they sided with Ukraine and did not think of any alternative other than the defeat of Russia, and stated that the USA saw this war as a struggle that must be won for itself and for the future of the liberal world order. The USA, which seems to be the party that has gained the most in this crisis without any losses, did not seem to be bothered by the prolongation of the process, as well as not making any effort to end the process.

-It was noted that politicians from Germany and France stated that they "increased their help day by day" with a bit of guilt as a result of their criticism of "they are not helping enough".

-It was seen that German Chancellor Scholz used a cautious language in his speech. While talking about allied cooperation on the one hand, it was seen that on the other hand, he emphasized that they tried to carry out the process within the framework of a rational and geopolitical logic. It was also important that a journalist's question to the German Chancellor "how far Germany can go against Russia" remained unanswered. It is not difficult to guess that this attitude of Germany, which is certain to experience losses especially in the economic field during and after this crisis, will evolve towards the end of the crisis or will want it to change as it gets stronger. Indeed, there are many events that confirm these developments.

Decisions such as the relocation of some military factories in Germany to the United States this year, in order to meet the increasing arms supply in Ukraine, are disturbing the Germans as they "leave the country defenseless".

The reaction of the people in European countries also began to emerge. Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Ramstein American base in southwestern Germany demanding that the arms shipments to Ukraine be stopped, the French demonstrators in the streets of Paris calling for "the withdrawal from NATO led by the US" and the stopping of arms supplies to Ukraine.

In short, as the war drags on, European governments and people are beginning to express their reactions more and more openly. It is not difficult to predict that the reactions in this context will increase further this year and create deep breaks within the alliance.

-In the conference report, besides Putin's use of nuclear weapons (with emphasis on the fact that China is increasing its nuclear weapons capacity and the nuclear challenges of Iran and North Korea), the main danger is China and China's acting together with Russia is emphasized in the conference report. It was also important to mention that its potential also poses a great danger.

-It was also important that Wang Yi, the representative of the Chinese Communist Party, accused the United States of acting irresponsibly and straining relations. This shows that China is aware that after the weakening of Russia, the US will direct its allied power to itself. Already after the end of the conference, the US President Biden, while going to Poland, went to the Ukrainian capital Kiev in a sudden movement and gave a strong message that disturbed the Russians (during Biden's visit, sirens were heard as if there was an air attack in Kiev). On the other hand, Wang Yi went to Russia right after the conference and emphasized that "they are ready to develop their relations with Russia and join forces", which was clearly considered a challenge by the experts. In short, policies that will lead not to peace and stability, but to crises and wars are encouraged.

As a result, it is seen that the Munich Security Conferences, which have been held under various names since 1963, have gradually gone beyond its purpose, have broken down and become ineffective as a result.

At this point, when the facts in the field and the final report of the Munich Security Conference are examined in detail, it becomes clear that there is a discrepancy between the stated aims of the conference and its real aims.

It is also clear that the conference, in its current form, has turned into a structure that produces no solution and problems with external guidance, rather than producing solutions. The decisions taken also seem inconsistent. For example, in this conference, Syria, where thousands of people died, did not find a solution, and this country was not mentioned at all. As such, the conference completely lost its prestige and became ineffective. At the Munich Security Conference in 2021, Biden emerged as a willing savior to pick up the pieces and said, “the USA is back” (Deutsche Welle Turkish, 20 February 2021). However, this turn is dragging the whole of Europe, especially Ukraine, into disaster.

In this case, as the German Philosopher Spengler clearly stated in his work titled "The Collapse of the West", "concepts based on two opposite worldviews in order to differentiate themselves" seem to collapse (Spengler, 1997). The strict, closed and exclusionary character of this thought worsens the situation (Özdemir, 2004: 65). At such a time, it is necessary to recall the statements of the German Chancellor in the previous conference that “Western countries are in conflict with their own values ​​and new centers of power will emerge in this century” and glorify a new understanding that puts peace and people first instead of regional conflicts.



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Birnbaum, Michael, Loveday Morris ve John Hudson. (15 Şubat 2020). At Munich Security Conference, an Atlantic Divide: U.S. Boasting and European Unease, Washington Post.

Deutsche Welle Türkçe (20 Şubat 2021). Biden'dan Avrupa'ya "ABD geri döndü" mesajı.

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Bunde ve diğerleri, Münih Güvenlik Raporu 2022- Münih Güvenlik Konferansı ( Turning the Tide Unlearning Helplessness, February 2022.

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