February 19, 2024

Worrywurst at the Munich Security Conference

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks.

The foreign policy elite descended on Munich again this weekend, primed for beer, brats, and bilats. The 2024 Munich Security Conference was crowded and frenzied, as security details jostled delegates straining to connect with movers and shakers. The gathering boasted both an online portal and a smartphone app, and participants used them to set up meetings with old friends and total unknowns. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the affair “diplomatic speed dating,” and that about nailed it.

On one matter, everyone — Europeans, Ukrainians, Americans, and delegates from other regions — concurred: What America does, or fails to do, will be vital.

For all the conviviality, however, a somber mood prevailed this year. I’ve been attending this conference for almost two decades now, and the ratio of worries to solutions has rarely felt higher. One year ago, the trans-Atlantic allies were united in their resolve to resist Russia and help Ukraine. Kyiv had recently retaken vast swaths of territory, Moscow’s offensive was sputtering, and hopes for the Ukrainian counteroffensive were high. There were worries about Western industrial production, the sustainability of a long campaign, and balancing a focus on European security with challenges in Asia. But the 2023 Munich zeitgeist was more steely-eyed resolve than wide-eyed alarm.

This year was different.

Read the full article from War on the Rocks.

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