Munich Security Report 2021 Between States of Matter – Competition and Cooperation
Transatlantic leaders seem to have come to a common conclusion: the world’s liberal democracies are facing a new systemic competition. While they support a joint strategy for dealing with their autocratic challengers by strengthening cooperation with each other, they are only at the beginning of thinking about the best way to compete where they must – and to cooperate with competitors where they can. At last year’s Munich Security Conference, world leaders discussed a world shaped by “Westlessness” – as diagnosed by the Munich Security Report 2020. Unfortunately, various developments have vindicated last year’s dire analysis. Not only did Western countries continue to exhibit a lack of joint action on crucial global issues, the past year also saw continued attacks on liberal-democratic norms in key Western countries, with the storming of the US Capitol as the most emblematic symbol of the threat to democracy. But there is hope. In the midst of a global pandemic, almost exactly one year after a divisive Munich Security Conference 2020, the speakers at the virtual MSC Special Edition on February 19, 2021, including US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and other world leaders all voiced their support for a new beginning in the transatlantic relationship and for revamping cooperation among liberal democracies to prevail in a new age of systemic competition. After what can be called an “autocratic decade,” liberal democracies are now willing to push back to turn the “illiberal tide.” President Biden, having declared that “America is back” and ready to lead, is stressing at every opportunity that democracies find themselves at an inflection point and need to prove that democracy is not a phase-out model but can deliver tangible benefits to the people.
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