Organised by the Germans, the Munich Security Conference has become a world forum for Ministers for Foreign Affairs and for Defence. The participants were all attempting to anticipate the political evolution of the moment, while the organisers were attempting to advance the cause of their re-armament. Finally, although the positions of the participants was clarified, the question of the rules of the new game remain in suspense.
Over the years, the Munich Security Conference has become the wold’s most important meeting on the subject. Created in the context of the Cold War by an ultra-conservative aristocrat and hero of the Resistance to Nazism, Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin, it has always leaned to the anti-communist and Atlantist side. It nonetheless remains a German event and not a US initiative.
Founded in 1963, it comprised about sixty personalities – taking part were Henry Kissinger, who at the time was no more than a spy and an academic, and Helmut Schmidt, then a simple federal deputy. Since 2009, under the impulse of its new President, the diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger, the conference is no longer a Germano-US strategic seminar, nor even a European forum, but the world’s main event in international relations and defence.
The 2018 Conference
The 2018 edition assembled 682 high personalities, including approximately thirty heads of state and government, forty-odd Ministers for Foreign Affairs, forty more Ministers for Defence, and almost all the chiefs of the Western secret services, not to mention the directors of think-tanks, Atlantist humanitarian NGO’s, and self-righteous journalists . For the last three years, a secret service summit has been held discreetly on the fringe of the Conference.
This unprecedentedly high level of this meeting may be explained by the current state of international disorder. Everyone can see that the unipolar system imposed by the United States from 1995 is no longer. And yet, no-one has a very clear idea of what comes next.
The Press focused only on the puerile show by Benjamin Netanyahu and a few phrases from one member or another. The real issue was elsewhere.
Is the confirmation of German military power now possible?
The host power, in other words the German people as a private entity, and not the federal state, intended to use the participants in order to advance its own objectives. A document distributed at the entrance begins with two articles. The one on the left, signed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sigmar Gabriel, includes this phrase: « It is neither imprudent nor anti-American to imagine a Europe without the United States » . The article on the right, drawn up by lawyer Constanze Stelzenmüller, analyses the divergences between President Trump and his main advisors and concludes with a warning against their potential developments .
Just before Berlin was paralysed by the absence of a parliamentary majority, the federal government was thinking about the possibility of investing massively in its army and taking control of all European armies, including the French . The point was to use the European Union at a time when the United States is in difficulty to confirm Germany’s economic power on the political level. But how can this be accomplished after Brexit, without the powerful British army? How to manage the French nuclear force? And how much elbow room is the US ready to concede to Germany?
British Prime Minister Theresa May answered that as far as the United Kingdom was concerned, once it has left Europe, it intends to negotiate a Peace Treaty with the European Union, which takes us all the way back to the vision that Winston Churchill had of Germany. The European Union must maintain the stability of the West of the continent, London will always be a solid ally, but it is Her Majesty’s government which will define common objectives, and certainly not Berlin or Paris.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe showered praise on European Defence and confirmed that his country will be dedicating 2% of its GDP to military questions in 2025. Capitalising on the excellent communication by President Emmanuel Macron, he expressed his support for Germany’s ambitions, while at the same time avoiding having to answer the concrete question about the strike force. So we are not really any further along – the tandem Macron-Philippe is happy with the new network for European discussion in matters of the Defence industry (the PESCO), but has signed firm commitments only with London.
The enormous US delegation behaved as predicted in the preparatory document — Washington attaches much importance to its allies in order to reinforce its credibility. Which is tantamount to saying that the confirmation of German military will only be possible if it is kept on a leash by the Pentagon.
Ukraine and Crimea
Although Germany voted for European sanctions against Russia, the members of the MSC do not question the reunification of Crimea and Russia. They do not refer to the example of German reunification, because it did not occur to the detriment of another state, but on their own initiative to recognise the independence of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina against the wishes of the Yugoslav Federation (currently Serbia) . They analyse the Ukrainian crisis in terms of plate tectonics. For them, the forces which confronted one another over a period of twenty years are responsible for the separation. From now on, the question of Donbass is a question of defining the limits of the tectonic plates. The answer is not the same, depending on whether your view of History is long or short.
In any case, the MSC considers that the Minsk agreements are the only peaceful solution, but it does not read them in the same way as Moscow, since the text is particularly imprecise.
The Germans were surprised by President Vladimir Putin’s proposition to deploy a UN stabilisation force in Donbass. They understand it as being tasked with keeping order as defined in Kiev, and thus to disarm the region, while the Ukrainian government could prepare a new confrontation. This is obviously not the Russian point of view.
About ten Ukrainian personalities were present in Munich. Obviously President Petro Poroschenko and his allies, like his Minister for Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin (ex-ambassador to Berlin) or the mayor of Kiev Vitali Klitschko (ex-world heavyweight WBO & WBC boxing champion, the « hero » of Maïdan). There were also economic leaders like Natalie Jaresco (an ex-employee of the US State Department, posted by Washington as Minister for Finance) or the boss of Naftogaz, Andriy Kobolyev, and the oligarchs Viktor Pinchuk and Sherhiy Taruta. But since the MSC has little confidence in the team currently in power, it also invitedYulia Timoschenko, the deputies Mustafa Nayyem (catalyser of the Maïdan events) and Svitlana Zalishchuk (US National Endowment for Democracy).
In a separate room, out of sight, the representative for France, Germany, the European Union and Russia met with those of Ukraine. No progress was made, particularly concerning a deployment of the Blue Helmets.
The Middle East as seen by Berlin
Germany invested a lot in the US project for the Middle East (the strategy of the destruction of societies and states, conceived by Admiral Arthur Cebrowski ), but noticeably less in the British-US project for the « Arab Springs ». Since the Cold War, it has housed and supported several headquarters for the Muslim Brotherhood, including that of the Syrians in Aix-la-Chapelle. Germany took a part in the assassination of ex-Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafic Hariri . In 2012, it co-wrote the Feltman plan for the total and unconditional capitulation of Syria . At present, Volker Perthes, director of the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, the state think-tank, is advisor to Jeffrey Feltman at the UNO.
For several years, the internal documents of the European External Action Service (EEAS) are copied and pasted from Volker Perthes’ notes for the German government.
Volker Perthes was of course at Munich  with Jeffrey Feltman and their friends, Lakdhar Brahimi, Ramzi Ramzi, Steffan de Mistura, Generals David Petraeus (the KKR was also represented by Christian Ollig) and John Allen (Brookings Institution), as well as Nasser al-Hariri, the President of the High Authority for Negotiations (pro-Saudi Syrian opposition), Raed al-Saleh, director of the White Helmets (Al-Qaïda) and their Qatari sponsors, including Emir Thamim.
In an article from the preparatory document for the Conference , Volker Perthes assures that political balance in the Middle East has collapsed. But he reasons by basing himself on what he wants rather than what he sees. He assures that the Damascus government is exhausted by the war, although it has just laid a clever trap for the Israëlis and managed to destroy one of their aircraft. He evaluates the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, believing that Riyadh is in a position of force, while the anti-palace coup is being organised from abroad. He imagines that the Emirates will help Saudi Arabia against Teheran, when they have just obliged Riyadh to partition Yemen – the Emirates also take their wealth from Dubaï’s avoidance of the anti-Iranian embargo.
Volker Perthes’ errors have been boosted by the voluntary errors of three bosses - German BND (Bruno Kahl), British MI6 (Alex Younger) and the French DGSE (Bernard Emié), who explained in a private room, in front of an audience chosen for their naïveté, how nervous they were about the Turkish operation in Syria. The three men pretended to believe that the combatants of the YPG constitute the safest barrier against Daesh. Yet they were supposed to create the Frontier Security Force with certain ex-members of Daesh. And although several jihadist officers were arrested by the Syrian Arab Army this week as they journeyed to Afrin concealed amongst the ranks of the Kurdish combatants. It’s clear that the job of these three super-spies is to know to whom they owe the truth, and to whom they can lie. Sustaining their momentum, they hinted that the Syrian Arab Army uses chemical weapons – profiting from the absence in the room of the US Secretary for Defence, Jim Mattis, who had testified a few days earlier that proof of this claim is inexistant .
Finally, before engaging in massive rearmament, Germany will have to choose its analysts of Foreign Affairs more carefully.