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May 29, 2024

Munich Security Conference- An Iniquity to World Security Discourse

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By: Seetal Patra, Research Analyst, GSDN

Munich Security Conference 2024: source Internet

The Munich Security Conference (MSC) saw its inception in the fall of 1963, then called, Internationale Wehrkunde-Begegnung. The MSC boasts Munich to be an independent venue for the purposes of policy makers and the experts to have a platform and discuss on important, pressing, and constructive decisions affecting the security diaspora of the world. The year of its inception, that is the era of the 1960s, saw a lot many world events apart from the ones that hampered and devastated the Western nations, or the Western driven narrative, perspective, and probably propaganda. But a basic google search about the world events in 1960s gives us the list of happenings including, JFK assassination, civil rights legislation, Vietnam War, construction of Berlin wall, and the moon landing. The era when the Western led discourse was busy latching onto the events of the Cold war era, numerous events did happen in other parts of the world too.

West Asia, has remained on fire since early 1900s, and continues till date too. India saw three major wars in 1947, 1962, and again in 1965. The 1965 war was playing out in our backyard, with massive humanitarian crisis, but the Westerners led MSC has dampened the discussion as a not so worthwhile security issue. While in Africa, the cold war had successfully knocked the doors of African continent, which has suffered in the hands of colonizers far more disproportionately and ruthlessly. Its famously, referred to as Cordier and the 1960 Congo crisis. But these issues have often remained a mere footnote in the research discourse of the Munich Conference. The Global South in the most millennial terms can be termed as a victim of nepotism. The global nepotism of well settled colonizers, who looted us, and then fended off their capitalistic goals via the tinted glass of rapid development.

In the first decades of the conference, the audience was relatively small, and this was on purpose and by design, not exceeding a few dozen people. It had started off as the venue where the German participants used to meet their counterparts, along with their allies including the USA, and the NATO member states. With this, the gathering has accorded itself the tag of “transatlantic family meeting.” As the dubbed name goes, the debates also concentrated on Western policy within the overarching framework of Cold War confrontations.

The Munich Security Conference is considered as one of the elite security gatherings, often referred to as the Davos of Security Discourse. In the recent decades, the discussions are no more huss about whether the world can still be boxed out into rigid cabinets of east and west. The world has transitioned from G2 to G7 to G20 (21). When the world had precarious terms to itself, and we were having conversations about the potential of a World War III can only be because of dearth of water, we have already seen and still toiling to the harsh realities of Russia-Ukraine war, and the Isarel-Palestine conflict. These are the security conflicts, but the UN seems to be in its waning potential to handle the world security and rules-based order getting slowly ripped apart, while MSC is proving to be nothing more than a mere sequela to the UN.

But the fact of the matter is, do we really have a rigid definition of rules-based world order to be followed anymore?

The MSC is a method of power getting represented by the way of a selected discourse. These power relations are maintained by the means of ideologies. And it is believed that, these are often one-sided perspectives or worldviews that are related to mental representations, convictions, opinions, attitudes, and evaluations. To put into perspective, Chilton has somewhere convincingly pointed out the three strategic functions of the political language. They are, coercion, legitimization or delegitimization and finally representation or misrepresentation. The levers of legitimization and delegitimization bring to the fore the discussions on positive and negative self-representation. While the nuances of representation and misrepresentation thrust upon the necessities of controlling the information and hence the control on the discourse.

One of the massive flaws of this MSC led discourse, is that the speakers choose on the speeches with a very thinly crafted agenda to be represented. It would not be wrong to compare the MSC with that of the obsolete campaigning that of the UNSC, which is barely successful in bringing any disruptive solutions to today’s turmoil laden world order. The approach of social constructivism, clearly posits that the social reality is partly what we try and make out of it. MSC being the partner of the NATO has mostly concentrated on the transatlantic security policy and European defence. To bring certain factors to the board showcasing certain world events which has changed the course of the world. And in all these NATO has been the frontrunner. Some of the most prominent events include the bombing of Yugoslavia, the invasion of Iraq, the ruined statehood of Libya, the unlawful military interference in Syria, and not forgetting the debacle in Afghanistan.

India has been able to push forward its agenda only now, with one of the most vociferous External Affairs Minister on duty. It has been decades that India has been reclaiming and making its voice heard as the nation is confidently grappling onto the most rapidly growing economy. Today India is denying to be bogged down by the West led narrative. But this does not signify that India is anti/non-West. We are the smart nationalists denying to be sitting on the fence. Our decision of buying oil from Russia, halting the exports of wheat, continuing to go with the decision of MSP for the crops, despite the pendency of disputes regarding the allegation of MSP being a trade distortive support (Amber Box Subsidy). It is always advised to make either or choices. It is always wise to not fall onto the trap of a third while standing imbedded to your stance. We choose to make choices that are in our self-interest. The frequent questioning of our stances in the forums like MSC, NATO, BBC, etc. is nothing, but the virtual bullying by these world forums to carry on with their age-old power discourses, balancing and rebalancing. Might as well I state, the bold decision of India purchasing Russian oil despite the sanctions has only helped keep the world trade in equilibrium and the Westerners definitely thankful, although within closed doors. So, the discourses like that of MSC are to be nothing but appreciative of India. It is India which is the pivot in balancing the world discourse. It is time for the redundant discussion panels to tilt a bit in all the four directions and figure out the realpolitik. How about MSC endorsing the values of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.” A food for thought for a renewed security discourse embracing the apathies of every stakeholder irrespective of Global South or North.

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