The Munich Conference Grapples with America’s ‘Burden Shedding’

    Nikolas K. Gvosdev

    Security, Europe

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump takes the stage for a campaign rally in Colorado Springs, Colorado

    Was the 2016 election a bump in the road, or a sign of what’s to come?

    Those with experience of attending previous Munich Security Conferences have described the mood of the 2018 conclave with terms like “retrenchment” and “hunkering down” and “waiting out the uncertainty.” A theme constantly repeated during the three-day gathering was that of the liberal world order under stress and threat, with a concurrent focus on the prospect of immediate flashpoints such as the tense situation on the Korean Peninsula and the likelihood of a conflict between Iran and its neighbors—both connected to questions about the depth and extent of American disengagement from global affairs. One concern, however, was that the conference was less engaged with how the world order and, more specifically, the transatlantic alliance, is set to evolve and change in the coming years.

    Convening on the sidelines of the Munich conference, the Loisach Group met to assess this year’s conclave and to discuss what topics were left unaddressed that nevertheless will have a critical impact on the future cohesion of the Euro-Atlantic community.

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