February 20, 2023

Of Strategy and Schnitzel: Munich Security Conference 2023

This piece was originally published by War on the Rocks.

My first Munich Security Conference, back in 2005, was a wonky gathering of transatlantic security policymakers. All the proceedings took place in the Bayerische Hof ballroom, and a cloud hung over the largely European (and theoretically nonsmoking) audience. Delegates’ eyes lit with excitement as they debated NATO’s strategic concept, evaluated the war in Iraq, and urged each other (but not their own governments) to boost defense spending. Beer flowed liberally — brats were consumed en masse.

The West is, they all said, in this for the long haul, and will support Ukraine for as long as it takes.

Nein more. The beer and brats remain, but the conference has grown bigger, global in scope and participation, glitzier and replete with media and roving security details. Getting a seat for the most popular speakers means showing up well before a session begins. Side events compete with off-the-books gatherings, dinners, and (I’m not making this up) a foosball tournament. The net effect is more Zirkus than Konferenz.

Read the full article from War on the Rocks.

  • Podcast
    • June 21, 2024
    Resuscitating Europe's Defense Industry

    Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the attempt of transatlantic partners to provide Kyiv with the weapons systems and ammunition it needs to keep up the fight for the...

    By Nicholas Lokker, Jim Townsend, Sophia Besch & ​Christian Mölling

  • Podcast
    • June 14, 2024
    Unpacking the European Parliament Elections

    Last weekend, voters across the European Union went to the polls to select the next European Parliament. In the run-up to the elections, many observers were focused on the pot...

    By Nicholas Lokker, Jim Townsend, Klaus Welle & Susi Dennison

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Affairs
    • June 14, 2024
    NATO’s Missing Pillar

    It is commonly assumed that NATO was built on U.S. power, but in fact the commitment to collective security emerged in Europe first....

    By Jim Townsend, Sean Monaghan & Mathieu Droin

  • Podcast
    • June 12, 2024
    The High Stakes of European Security with Thomas Wright at the 2024 CNAS National Security Conference

    The current moment in the transatlantic relationship is one of high stakes. The United States and its European allies are continuing to grapple with numerous difficulties, inc...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend & Thomas Wright

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia