Munich … Peace for Our Time?
It was the infamous declaration that British Prime Minister Chamberlain made upon his return from negotiating a peace settlement between Great Britain and Nazi Germany that originally connected the city of Munich with the concept of world peace.
Landing at Heston Airport on his return from Munich, Sept. 30, 1938, Chamberlain waved the piece of paper containing the signatures of both himself and Hitler, the document known as the Munich Agreement, declaring his belief that it would secure “peace for our time.”
Less than one year later, on Sept. 3, 1939, two days after the Nazi invasion of Poland, Britain was at war with Germany, a war that was to engulf the globe before the Allies secured their final victory over the Axis nations in 1945.
Seventeen years later, Ewald von Kleist, a German publisher, founded the Conference on Security Policy in Munich, in 1962. Delegates at the first conference included government ministers, members of parliament, senior representatives of the armed forces, scientists and journalists. The idea was to create a transatlantic forum focused on the major foreign- and security-policy challenges facing the Western alliance in an endeavor to work toward securing “peace for our time.”
With only a couple of exceptions, the Munich Security Conference (msc) has convened annually ever since.
This year, the mood was different at Munich among the record number attending what has since become institutionalized as the highest profile annual gathering of governmental, defense and security chiefs worldwide.
Germany’s vice chancellor, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, set the tone with his opening address, declaring that “The window of history had been opened for a while … with a new U.S. president who offered new thinking on the whole spectrum of disarmament and security policy” (Munich Security Conference, February 6).
In a nod to Russia, with which he is involved massaging a Russo-German pact into being, Steinmeier “made an appeal to the 300 high-ranking participants of the Munich conference to contribute to building a new security architecture embracing Russia” (ibid.).
Unlike past years, where there has often been much talk but little concrete action following these conferences, change was in the air at msc 2009.
All sensed that an appeasing administration was now in charge in Washington at a time when American power is on the wane. A new conciliatory tone was evident. This only served to mask the true intentions of each major nation which, in reality, was seeking to seize the moment to maximize the opportunity to strengthen its individual national power, forging backroom alliances with the intent of increasingly isolating the U.S. and countering American military might.
There were certain realities that some of the better observers noted surrounding the Munich Security Conference this year. As Spiegel Online pointed out under the very apt headline “Searching for a New World Order,” “Our current, terribly interesting, times ensure that this year’s Munich conference will attract unprecedented international attention. It will provide pointers as to what will be possible during Obama’s first year in office—and what not” (January 30).
Yet, predictably, this most vital conference, which laid the groundwork for future transatlantic relations, received poor coverage from the nation with the highest number of delegates, the United States. Distracted by the onset of recession, squabbles over the Obama stimulus package and hiccups over the tax dodging of Obama appointees, the average American could really not give two hoots about what was going on across the Big Pond.
But, mark our words and mark them well, the average American will soon feel the effects of that which realists saw as the most meaningful undercurrent at this year’s Munich conference.
Caught in a Pincer
The U.S. is being squeezed for power concessions on the one hand by a Europe dominated by Germany, and on the other by Vladimir Putin’s Russia. This scenario is made even more apparent when one understands the game being played by Germany’s Vice Chancellor Steinmeier and the Russian prime minister, each intent on cementing a strong anti-American alliance with the other.
America is unwittingly caught in a foreign-policy pincer movement between two imperialist powers, Germany and Russia. In the process, the Obama administration is being grandly fooled into yielding up irrecoverable ground in the struggle to establish the new global order arising in the wake of America’s massive economic decline. In reality, though few there be that see it, the U.S. is simply being set up as the fall guy for German and Russian power plays whilst the Obama administration is diverted enacting a diplomacy of appeasing America’s enemies in lieu of confronting them with clear choices to either work genuinely for world peace or reap the consequences of refusal to do so.
Of course, not since the failure of a similar policy of appeasement by Neville Chamberlain has such any real Churchillian ultimatum been put to the enemies of the Anglo-Americans.
It is significant that President Obama chose to give the only speech that he delivered during his election campaign in a foreign country, not from one of the cities within any nation that has a history of being a traditional ally of America, but instead the capital city of a nation that has twice engulfed the world in global warfare, Berlin. It is just as significant that he again chose a German city, Munich, from which to first air details of his foreign policy.
Noting the latter, “[C]onference chairman Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger … said he was proud that President Obama had chosen this conference to present his ideas on foreign-policy issues for the first time outside the United States” (Munich Security Conference, February 9). For reasons that we shall make clear, that sounds an awful lot like the spider luring the fly into its web.
The significance of such choices lies in the fact that Bible prophecy indicates that it will be Berlin that eventually will call the tune on America’s foreign policy and not Washington! (refer to our book The United States and Britain in Prophecy).
On early indications, the Obama foreign policy is destined to play to the advantage of the enemies of the free world—and those enemies certainly know it! They have every intention of playing it to the hilt to their own advantage and to the ultimate detriment of the U.S. in particular. One only has to read between the lines to observe the true intent behind the effusive—and strategically diplomatic—acclaim that Vice President Joe Biden’s speech at the conference garnered from those assembled.
Laying out the parameters for the Obama administration’s foreign policy, the vice president emphasized the American government’s “new willingness to engage in dialogue was combined with the expectation that the partners of the United States stand up more often for their shared values and objectives. In Munich this was seen as a clear invitation to provide more military support to the U.S., for instance regarding Afghanistan” (ibid.).
Middle East Maneuvers
This would have been very good news to the German power elites who have been quietly seeking to strengthen the German presence in Afghanistan for some time, notwithstanding German media opinion to the contrary. Germany views a stronger presence in Afghanistan and a revived involvement in Middle Eastern security as being vital to advancing its interests to control Iran and gain access to Middle Eastern oil.
One deep concern that threaded its way through a number of speeches and backroom parlays at the Munich conference was the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. Vice President Biden’s speech was no exception. “While Biden repeatedly stressed the willingness of the new administration in Washington to enter into dialogue, he warned Iran quite bluntly against continuing with its nuclear course. In a similar way, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy had pressed Tehran for more international cooperation” (German Information Center, New Delhi).
Dr. Henry Kissinger expressed deep concern at the prospect of the proliferation of nuclear weapons in an unstable world, in particular the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran becoming a reality. Tehran figured in many of the speeches at the Munich conference this year with warnings coming from a number of nations as to the possible consequences of that nation developing a nuclear weapons program.
Of Iran’s delegate, Iranian Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, msc journalists Ernst Hebeker and Oliver Rolofs remarked: “His visit to Munich is marred by the recent launch of an Iranian space missile. In the last days the Western world voiced its concern that Iran was probably more advanced in developing a nuclear program usable for military purposes than expected. In the subsequent discussion with Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov and the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, iaea, Mohamed ElBaradei, the Iranian speaker of parliament, rejected U.S. President Obama’s offer to enter into direct dialogue for the time being and elaborated on Iran’s nuclear program” (Munich Security Conference, February 6).
Not only was Tehran unwilling to offer anything in return for a carrot from Washington, Moscow seemed equally recalcitrant in the face of President Obama’s overtures for dialogue. In response to Vice President Biden offering the opportunity to Russia to join the U.S. in renewed dialogue on defense and security, Russia’s delegate, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, bluntly declared that “there would be no immediate response to Mr. Biden. ‘It is not an Oriental bazaar. And we do not trade the way people do in the bazaars’” (Telegraph.co.uk, February 8).
But, ultimately, it was Germany’s agenda in Munich. It was not Russia, nor the U.S., but Germany that ensured the main focus for consideration at the Munich Security Conference this year was to be the Middle East and, in particular, the future of Iran.
In the lead-up to the conference, the team at German think tank German-Foreign-Policy.com observed that Wolfgang Ischinger, Chancellor Merkel’s appointee as chairman of the msc, had for weeks been “publicly demanding a change in Western Middle East policy” (February 3).
It does well to note Herr Ischinger’s background at this point. “Ischinger had served more than 30 years in the German Foreign Ministry, i.e. as director general of the Policy Planning Staff, as director general for Political Affairs and as state secretary, and most recently, from 2001 to 2008, as German ambassador to the usa and Great Britain. He is ‘expecting’ the new U.S. administration ‘to break a 30-year taboo of not having direct contacts with Iran,’ declared Ischinger in mid-January, and is hoping for ‘normal relations’ between the usa and Iran. … On his initiative, several high-ranking Iranian political representatives, including Foreign Minister Mottaki and the President of the Iranian Parliament Laridschani, will attend the Munich conference and will be ready to hold talks with U.S. officials” (ibid.).
Here is where the U.S. is being squeezed by Germany and Russia in Middle Eastern affairs. German-Foreign-Policy.com notes that “Berlin is interested in ending sanctions against Iran also because of the country’s natural gas reserves, the second largest in the world. German energy companies are closely cooperating with the number 1—Russia—and are also seeking access to the Iranian reserves” (ibid.).
What U.S. foreign-policy exponents seem slow to realize is the nexus between Russia’s incursion into Georgia and its interest in Iran. German-Foreign-Policy.com explains, “An international conference in Budapest last week decided to accelerate the construction of the Nabucco Pipeline. According to official information, the pipeline is to transport natural gas from the Caspian Basin to Europe (via Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria). Given the uncertainties in the Central Asian supply countries, experts actually assume that the pipeline will only be profitable if Middle Eastern and Iranian deposits are also tapped” (ibid.).
This was the nub of the whole agenda at the Munich Security Conference this year. But was it read and understood by Vice President Biden and the team of over 40 U.S. foreign-policy experts who attended at Munich?
Berlin and Moscow are simply taking advantage of what Frank-Walter Steinmeier termed the “window of history” that is “open for a while.”
Both Russia and Germany realize they now have to keep the pressure on the Obama administration to stick to the Russo-German agenda before the new administration has time to draw breath and think a little more deeply about it being used as the fall guy in their joint policy for possession of Iran’s energy reserves.
Iran is crucial to guaranteeing Germany alternative energy resources, and crucial to Russia for the control of its energy market. “‘Ultimately’ Europe ‘cannot afford to exclude Iran from energy partnerships,’ explained an executive of the German energy company rwe. rwe is a member of the Nabucco consortium. But a ‘precondition’ for cooperation ‘is a change in political relationships’” (ibid.).
The real question that follows in the wake of the Russo-German efforts to turn U.S. foreign policy to their own advantage at Munich 2009 is, will such a deal be truly in the interests of creating an opportunity for “peace for our time”?
Or is it destined to have the opposite effect?
Study the history of such deals in the past, and the answer becomes most obvious.
Read our booklets Germany and the Holy Roman Empire and Russia and China in Prophecy for a realistic answer to that question.