Although he wasn't there, he was very much present during the entire Munich Security Conference. Concerns about Donald Trump's policies overshadowed all other topics. Time for decisions, says Dagmar Engel.
Interest in the annual Munich Security Conference has not been this keen for years - perhaps ever. All present had hoped that US Vice President Mike Pence would provide clarity about future US foreign policy under President Donald Trump. However, they were expecting too much. Nevertheless, there was a reprieve for the transatlantic representatives that meet in Munich each year when it came to NATO: The president instructed his deputy to reaffirm the USA's commitment to the alliance.
That, however, was not followed by anything more substantial. The fact that the USA will greatly increase its military b (EN): Opinion: EU fore... udget and expects the same from its alliance partners, and that it rejects the nuclear deal with Iran and expects Russia to uphold its end of the Minsk II agreement, were all well known before the US vice president spoke. Neither US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, nor Secretary of Defense James Mattis revealed more than that in Germany last week either. It was officially said that they were in Europe to listen. Unofficially, it seems that they know what their own foreign policy positions are, but not those of their president. That means that they don't know who will be calling the shots.
Freedom to act vs. powerlessness
Now, after Munich, it is time to start making decisions. And not only decisions from US President Trump. But rather, it is time for Europeans to decide how they see the world and how they intend to act in it. Will they, like the USA, seek security, mainly through military strength? Or will they pursue their own European path? This means cooperating instead of retreating, strengthening multilateral structures, improving institutions rather than declaring them "obsolete" and preventing conflicts instead of banking on military solutions to them.
Those are the urgent tasks facing the European Union, even though there is currently little unanimity among its members. Nevertheless, Europeans have the solutions for these tasks in their own hands. The investment could be well worth the effort. The freedom to act can help ward against a sense of powerlessness. For as stated above, the EU cannot expect its big brother USA to solve all of its problems. Not now, and not in the near future.
Have something to say? Add you comments below.