February 21, 2017

Everyone at Munich Pretended Everything Was Normal

By Julianne Smith

According to the organizers, demand to attend this year’s Munich Security Conference (MSC) was unprecedented. I can understand why. People on both sides of the Atlantic — myself included — were eager to hear senior members of the Trump administration talk about the transatlantic relationship at one of the most important and high level transatlantic gatherings of the year. Would the three cabinet members in attendance reflect the sentiments of their boss, who has called NATO obsolete, made disparaging remarks about the European Union, and expressed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin? Or would Trump’s cabinet members present a positive vision for the transatlantic partners, one that would no doubt stress defense spending but also reassure European allies at a time of considerable uncertainty?

I came to Munich with a few more questions. In the wake of both Brexit and the U.S. election, I was curious how the heads of state, CEOs, and ministers there would address the public’s growing disaffection with so many of the things we would discuss in Munich: globalization, international institutions, and national governments’ ability to respond to the needs of their citizens. Similarly, I was interested in how Western leaders are thinking today about Russia’s blatant attempts to undermine the very system we have spent the last 70 years creating. What fresh ideas would these leaders bring to the conversation?

Read the full article at Foreign Policy.