The Munich Security Conference was first conceived in 1963 in an attempt to promote the idea of collective security in the hopes that such a thing would prevent another world war. The following year, film maker Stanley Kubrik made his dark comedic masterpiece, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The film, released not long after the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy depicts an intense stand-off between the leaders of the US and USSR over the “accidental” deployment of an American nuclear “doomsday device”. The stereotypes of the indecisive US President, blood-soaked Pentagon chief, pompous British NATO ally and semi-unrepentant Nazi working for the US military-industrial complex are all there.
The arguments over how to “explain” to the Soviet leadership that an unstoppable “doomsday” device is on its way, is overshadowed by internal arguments among the US elite which is encapsulated by the infamous line, “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!”.
The scenes from the ongoing Munich Security Conference are strikingly similar to those depicted in Dr. Strangelove. It has become little more than a gathering of countries who are conducting proxy wars against one another, coming to an event designed to promote collective peace, while all the delegates use the forum to threaten the other participants.
Whether it was the “Israeli” regime leader Benjamin Netanyahu dramatically holding up an alleged piece of an Iranian drone before threatening Iran with the sentence, “Do not test Israel’s resolve”, to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif saying that the myth of “Israeli” invincibility has crumbled, to Sergey Lavrov stating that the US is destabilising the situation in Syria, before the US hit back at Russia destabilising the US, to barbs exchanged between Poland and its critics over its new Holocaust law, to the EU blaming its own member states for its internal crises, to China being blamed for the wider decline of the west – The Munich Security Conference had all the hateful diatribe one would expect at a post-modern “security conference”. It was high politics meets low Dada.
But what’s more is that, many of the speeches were more about the individual insecurities of nations than they were about how collective security might actually look in a world where major powers were not at each others throat.
It is difficult to think of a more useless gathering than the one currently taking place in Munich. For the price of the logistical security on the ground, which is there to guard political figures airing their on insecurities, one could have just as easily Tweeted insults to fellow nations without leaving the house. In this sense, perhaps Donald Trump is something of a genius at money saving after all.
The only conclusion one can reach is that apart from entertainment value, such conferences are useless, because the very idea of collective leadership always succumbs to the more prominent logistical realities of suspicion, caution, distrust and national interests.
The only way to gradually reduce international distrust and build relationships that de-facto enhance collective security, is by adopting a model which puts economic interactivity and connectivity above the lofty ideal of cooperation on security matters as an end in itself. When it comes to such a modern solution where economic prosperity is linked to the building of trust which necessarily results in a more secure world, China’s One Belt–One Road is the only show in town.
The Chinese model has achieved a balance between collective and national interests while allowing both to flourish in a prosperous environment created through carefully agreed bilateral trade agreements which are logistically fostered by the belts and roads that China has invested billions into making possible.
While the Munich Security Conference is little more than a Dr. Strangelove style shouting match between politicians and diplomats, as the world comes to embrace One Belt–One Road, peace will become preferable to war and trust will break through the historic walls of suspicion, because when countries get rich because of partnerships with other countries, hatred and caution necessarily give way to enhanced positivity and active innovation.
The simplest solutions are usually the best. A win-win model that brings peace through prosperity is based on a basic understanding of the human condition that actions speak louder than words and far louder than theories (however well meaning). Furthermore, those who are materially contended will be able to gain the confidence necessary to look at the dynamics of geopolitics in a more realistic way than countries that are made artificially poor through the pressures of war and the threat of war.
Thus, the only countries that feels insecure about One Belt–One Road, are those who think that a win-win situation might still entail some element of loss. This is based on the misnomer that the developing nations of the world will remain content while labouring under the whip hand of a hegamonic power, when clearly they’d prefer a model based on mutual respect, one which China clearly offers, as this model allows developing nations to become more prosperous while also increasing their sovereignty and safeguarding their culture from the western model of globalisation.
“While western trading schemes such as NAFTA or the EU make political and even cultural requirements on participating members, One Belt–One Road puts the brick and mortar of pragmatic realities above any far flung political ideals. While Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism With Chinese Characteristics For A New Era remains a guiding force for modern Chinese development, Beijing has no desire to spread these theories outside of China. Yet at the same time, Chinese officials are always happy to respectfully discuss these ideas with the many nations who seek their own version of Xi Jinping Thought and want to learn from the Chinese system in order to adapt it to their own political culture.
Furthermore, while western trade deals often require a full free trade regiment to be in place before any activity can commence, China does not require free trade in order to partner with nations in One Belt–One Road. All bilateral deals associated with One Belt–One Road will be conducted on a mutual basis based on the needs of both parties. In some cases full free trade with China will be mutually beneficial and when one side objects to such proposals, other arrangements will be agreed upon. This method is already in place as China engages in many different kinds of trade agreements with countries on every continent – more so that virtually any other country on earth.
While China has not conquered any foreign territory in its modern history, it is being accused of being “aggressive” by foreign powers with a history of colonialism. While Britain, France, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Portugal and later the United States colonised countries throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia, China has not engaged in such behaviour.
Today, the US is at war illegally in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan, all while conducting dubious military activities throughout Africa, China is busy cultivating positive trading partnerships under the win-win philosophy which will see peace come through enhanced prosperity. The western powers are therefore in no place to cast aspersions on China.
While the US threatened Myanmar with sanctions over the long-running conflict in Rakhine State, China has helped Bangladesh and Myanmar reach an agreement for peaceful cooperation which is already seeing the return and normalisation of many undocumented refugees…
…In the US and EU, there remains a prevailing adherence to the zero-sum mentality which fears that the peaceful success of others, someone infringes upon one’s own ability to achieve success. This outdated way of thinking, which itself smacks of the imperial mindset, is out of touch with the Chinese model of collective success bringing mutual prosperity. Increasingly, this zero-sum model is being rejected by nations ranging from Turkey and Pakistan, to Philippines and Cambodia, South Africa to Russia, just to name a few”.
As more and more countries sign up to One Belt–One Road, collective security will become one step closer, even while the term itself becomes outdated. Perhaps a future Munich Security Conference will be held among the world’s increasingly few opponents to One Belt–One Road and there, they can argue about how China’s method for peace through mutual prosperity has made them more insecure. Now that conference would be truly hilarious!