A Missed Opportunity at the Munich Conference

This past weekend, over 130 ministers and heads of state gathered for the annual Munich Security Conference, created in 1963 as a response to the Berlin Wall crisis two years earlier. The conference is meant, as Arthur Herman writes, “to be an important venue for European leaders to discuss collective security concerns in an informal setting.” Herman argues that this year’s meeting failed to meet the needs of the moment.

The organizers of this cold-war relic could have given it an urgent new relevance in light of what’s unfolding in Ukraine—certainly the gravest security challenge to Europe in the years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

They didn’t. Like an unrelated but more notorious conference held in Munich in 1938, this last meeting showed instead how feeble European democracies can be in facing aggression even when it threatens one of their own, in this case the largest country in Europe. Hours after the conference closed, Vladimir Putin showed what he thought of that vaunted body by announcing his plans to move troops into eastern Ukraine.

Herman goes on to acknowledge some positive moments of the conference, such as a speech by the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, and puts forth a series of suggestions regarding what the conferees might have accomplished.

Read more at National Review

More about: Cold War, Europe, Vladimir Putin, War in Ukraine


To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy