Whether in the professional circles or in the press: Landauf, landab
Immediately discusses the order of the world that is slipping, and always
Expressed concern about foreign and security policy, whose actors are no longer
are reliable. In Munich preparations are under way for the 55th Security Conference, and we
can already imagine that articles and headlines will ask again: is it okay?
even further with a value-based world order; how is it with the
multilateralism; we can look to Trump and other people who are in the world big shade
throw, still expect that a peaceful coexistence has a future?
With fright, we see the increasing peacelessness and an erosion of trust between the states. Five years ago, at the opening of the 50th Munich Security Conference, I was thinking aloud in this city about what format Germany should have in Europe and in the world. It seemed important to me to remind the compatriots that, with the confidence that we have in the rule of law, we have come to the right democracy, have developed to freedom, have become a nation on which one can rely. Added to this is a considerable economic strength that makes us an important partner of various nations. Germany, I believe, should therefore be more involved in various areas of international cooperation – not only but also in the area of security.
Today, I see developments in our country and also in our near and far neighbors, who cause me concern. As in almost all European countries, populism has established itself politically. Representatives of a right-wing national political variant sit in the German Bundestag and in all state parliaments – a development that had not reached us for a long time, even though it had long been on the agenda in our neighboring countries.
In Italy, with the government of left-wing populists and right-wing populists, a demagogic political style has crept in that is unfamiliar to us and that I do not want to see in Germany. But also in the democratic model countries in Scandinavia – in wonderful, developed democracies with a pronounced welfare state – there are movements that make nationalism in a relatively strong form again an important element of politics. Poland and Hungary have opted for an illiberal policy under right-wing national governments. In France tens of thousands take to the streets against a president, who was not even two years ago hope bearer. And with the departure of Great Britain, the European Union is facing the greatest challenge since its founding. All relatively new, relatively disturbing developments that have shaken up the traditional party structure in many places and have already caused deep cracks in the European fabric.
In the East and the Middle East, it looks even more depressing. Autocratic leaders love to prioritize their policy of strength of strength. They move out of the circle of democracies and find it legitimate to provoke crises and conflicts in their own neighborhood or, as happened by Russia, even to occupy territories in violation of international law. In addition, Russia, Iran, and Iran are openly interfering in the Syrian civil war, sometimes as allies, sometimes as opponents, in order to safeguard their great-power political interests and to establish themselves as a permanent power factor in the region. I have not even talked about China's massive foreign policy moves. With huge investment pacts, they buy their way along the Silk Road to Eastern Europe, supported by impressive economic growth while stabilizing a pre-modern rule of the few over the many.
All of this could be more easily endured if our main Western partners, the United States, were as reliable as they were to us Europeans for decades. But unsettled by the unpredictable gesture of Donald Trump are not only the Americans, but of course we Europeans. I am a Heart-Atlantean, and I will never forget the role of the United States in preserving freedom in Europe. I am also really suspicious of the President there, but to deduce that we should consider a withdrawal of the United States as beneficial to the whole globe would be a very serious mistake, simply political stupidity. I do not see that perhaps even frivolous France, together with Germany, which is less capable of leadership, could take the place of what America has done for us in terms of security policy. With what potential and with what inner attitude should these two largest countries cope? Nonetheless, I believe that strengthening the European defense makes sense.
In security matters, however, there is a certain amount of carelessness in the rich countries of the West, combined with widespread wishful thinking. Herfried Münkler calls our time the "postheroic" time. I do not know which heroic times were better for Germany. But if postheroic means no longer knowing what and how we want to defend ourselves, then there is something wrong with our national feeling.
In addition to these foreign policy issues, we still have internal issues to deal with. We are experiencing great insecurity and diffuse anxiety, perhaps comparable only to periods of major change such as the Copernican revolution or the beginning of the industrial age. Many today fear the new world of computers, of artificial intelligence, many do not feel or are inadequately equipped with knowledge about the functioning of the networked digital world. They are afraid of losing their autonomy and are unsure of their role in the future.