49th Munich Security Conference

Posted in Peace and Conflict | 07-Feb-13 | Author: Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann and Manouchehr Shamsrizi

A good meeting of Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak (left) with Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann at the Dinner of the Munich Security Conference. Fir several years the World Security Network has been promoting a double strategy of power and reconciliation in Israel/Palestine based on the proposals of Ehud Barak in Camp David 2000 - see "Proposals" in www.worldsecuritynetwork.com for details.

A fresh and lively 49th Munich Security Conference discussed new approaches in security and defense affairs. Its chairman Wolfgang Ischinger criticized that too many players are "still on a cold-war auto pilot". As the World Security Network is promoting the design and implementation of a new more efficient foreign policy, 'World 3.0', this conference was of special interest to us.

There is a kind of ritual each year: the European demand to hear from the highest representative of the United States that Europe is not forgotten and there is no shift to the Pacific. They are almost begging for: "Uncle Sam loves you Europe!" This time U.S. Vice President Joe Biden calmed the allies in NATO: "President Obama and we continue to believe that, Europe is the cornerstone of our engagement with the rest of the world and is the catalyst for our global cooperation. It's that basic. Nothing has changed. Where we come from is a place that understands that this European alliance is critical to our interests."

As Germans we think this prayer mill is embarrassing for the Europeans. They have grown up since 1945 and should assume their own responsibilities and global burdens, not only assemble behind 'Big Daddy'. Europe needs its own design, World 3.0 and action.

However, the political elites hesitate. Libya, Mali, and the engagement in Afghanistan, show that the Europeans are getting more active, even outside their European comfort zone. But it is still on more of a case-by-case basis and national approaches dominate without coordinated European actions plans.

Joe Biden emphasized the need for "direct dialogue" and personal contacts, as with China, which has no interest in confrontation. He offered Iran serious, open discussions. We like Joe Biden and this double approach of power and diplomacy. It is good to have him as the number two in the White House.

The conference gets more international each year. With the cold war over, the main focus is now on countries far away such as Iran, Mali or Syria. That is the real test for a new world order.

Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani said that global security will be at risk as long as the UN Security Council fails to issue a resolution to prevent massacres committed by dictatorships. These massacres, he added, blatantly violate international law and conventions, and are an attempt by dictators to retain power. Qatar realizes the indivisible character of global security, he said, adding that entwined issues require all states to work together hard in a responsible and transparent manner aimed at promoting security and stability, and preventing crises. Perusing diplomacy and dialogue and forging relations based on equality between the states are needed to achieve this vision. Qatar has spent USD 442 million on Syria to avoid a larger conflict. He demanded a political dialogue and development to contain the radicals.

Former Saudi Ambassador to London and Washington, and long-time head of intelligence, Prince Turki Al Faisal, whom we met again in Munich, gave a fresh analysis: Assad will use chemical weapons. We should give the opposition anti-aircraft missiles to defend. They are the 'good guys' that are trusted by the people. Iran should stop sending revolutionary guards and weapons.

He was assisted by a fund manager who argued that the focus of the Middle East policy should be the quick build-up of a middle class as humus for democracies with lots of new enterprises.

U.S. Senator John McCain was not only the most impressive but also the most credible and out-spoken participant. He was in a dark mood concerning the Western Syrian policy. 60,000 have been killed and two years past without adequate actions. For him it is genocide, like in Bosnia and Kosovo. McCain views 52 years-old Sheik Ahmad Mouaz al-Khatib, the new leader of the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition Forces and the Syrian Revolution, and former Iman of the important Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, as "a moderate". We should now support this opposition or they will lose support in the population and more radicals will fill the vacuum. "We are breeding a generation of extremists there - our current policy will not succeed". He proposed a no-fly zone and even the shooting down of Syrian aircraft by NATO Patriot missiles stationed in Turkey.

The excellent Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu argued most impressively: There is still post Cold War structure in the Middle East from the 1960s. Regional initiatives and international responses are needed. The Syrian leadership acted irresponsibly. Ankara tried for ten months to convince them to start a real dialogue with the opposition. Turkey has spent more than USD 500 million, sent 40,000 tons of support to Aleppo and hosts 160,000 refugees. Inside Syria, two million are without shelter, food or water. The UN Council should at least pass a humanitarian aid resolution.

The World Security Network supports those actions, but demands that all rebels in Syria must first agree to implement the principles of the UN Charter and should agree on a constitution now as preconditions for Western support  (see www.worldsecuritynetwork.com, top of page, "Proposals").

We need well-thought different double strategies of power and reconciliation in all crisis areas of the world and fresh creative approaches a la World 3.0.

This includes Israel/Palestine, an issue we discussed in Munich again with Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who came close to an agreement in Camp David in 2000.

This wisdom is still missing in the presentations of the speakers who - with few exceptions - hesitate to present options and concrete proposals.

As well, we need to integrate hard and soft factors of peacemaking, like reconciliation.

We hope the 50th Munich Security Conference will add those elements and thus promote effective peace initiatives in the world.