While competition has become the defining feature of world politics, the most critical threats to humanity – from climate change to arms races and the ongoing pandemic – require broad-based international cooperation. But competition and cooperation do not only coexist, they increasingly condition one another.
Even though the coronavirus pandemic has so far prevented a regular Munich Security Conference 2021, it cannot and must not impede the vibrant conversation on core challenges to international security that the Conference is known to inspire. The annual flagship publication’s 2021 edition builds on questions raised by the MSC throughout the past year – about the state of the West and the international order, growing competition between democratic and autocratic systems, and how the new transatlantic momentum can deliver concrete results. The Munich Security Report 2021, published ahead of the G7 and NATO summits, covers selected security issues that require concerted international action, such as arms control and the energy transition, as well as two regions that are at the center of growing geopolitical competition, the European neighborhood and the Indo-Pacific.
To effectively tackle pressing security challenges, the report argues, the US and Europe need to harness the new transatlantic momentum. Yet, given that public opinion inside the West is often divided, as the new Munich Security Index reveals, it will not be an easy task to move beyond “Westlessness” and navigate an environment of both competition and cooperation. Together with like-minded countries, the transatlantic partners will have to seek the right balance between the two “states of matter”: competing against the illiberal tide where they must – to defend core values and interests – and cooperating with challengers where they can – to tackle shared risks and threats.
This description was excerpted from securityconference.org.