Over the past five decades, the Munich Security Conference (MSC) has become the major global forum for the discussion of security policy.
Turbulence, turmoil and uncertainty are three words that were repeatedly heard at the 52th Munich Security Conference (MSC). At the opening ceremony, the MSC chairman announced some good and bad news.
The good news was that the conference room was more crowded, but the bad news was that we were living in an age of fear. The world is more fearful of the Syrian refugees influx, Islamist terrorist attacks, populism, nationalism, extremism, as well as difficulties over European integration.
German representatives including the nation's Defense Minister, Foreign Minister, experts and media had only focused on the refugee crisis. The French side spoke about terrorism and Jihad Islamic extremism.
In the second day of MSC, there were debates between the premiers and foreign ministers discussing Russia, Ukraine and Syria. The world remains mired in constant troubles, but what are the root causes?
Headlock of sense and sensibility
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev reviewed Cold War history and said Moscow had gotten involved in Syria and Ukraine, but had no intention to challenge European order.
States should get along with each other in accordance with equality and respect. Aggressive Western countries were creating new Cold War problems, which stand as the root cause for a turbulent world.
Yet, most Westerners did not agree with Medvedev. They claimed some countries were held back due to populism and nationalism. When Europe had sought a compromise with Moscow, Ukraine President Viktoy Poroshenko said Russian President Vladimir Putin was splitting Europe apart.
He insisted, it was dangerous to make a deal with Russia, since he believes Russia violates European values. He refuses to forgive Russia. Kiev supports the European Union and unity of Europe. Hence, Europe has become emotionally blackmailed by Ukraine.
So was the same in North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Baltic Sea States and Eastern European countries were often dragged by the US and NATO into endless confrontations against Russia.
If Europe cannot get rid of the entanglement between sense and sensibility, there can be no deep reflections to implement effective strategies.
Due to traditional forces and media's influence, the introspection of elites just relies on superficial political correctness, as attendees had spoken "correct nonsense" at the MSC.
Poverty and wealth gap
Fu Ying, chairwoman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of China's National People's Congress (China's top legislature), expounded on economic solutions for security issues at the MSC, which gathered support from attendees, including Michael Muller, UN Secretary-General of Geneva office.
He said the previous security discussion was too superficial, and economic development can be a key to eliminate terrorism. There are Chinese sayings that thieves out of poverty, building roads first to acquire more wealth.
Ukraine President complained that Russia's intrusion had caused the collapse of the Ukrainian economy. The GDP (gross domestic product) of Ukraine was 1/4 of Poland before the crisis erupted. Attendees asked, where were Western's donations to Ukraine? How can the nation eradicate corruption?
Apparently, the poverty and wealth gap were economic causes behind security challenges.
Inertia and capriciousness of US hegemony
After World War II, Europeans felt grateful towards the US and ideologically looked to Washington for guidance. Europe still has that mindset. US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington supported a powerful United Kingdom to stay in the EU.
Washington shared the same feelings with Europe over the refugee crisis and will never sit around. Washington is promoting peace talks in Syria and Afghanistan. Some Chinese took it for granted that Europe would reflect upon its foreign policy of following the US during the "Arab Spring." Yet, it has not happened.
A dependence on Washington has led to superficial reflections of European realities, especially for NATO member states in Europe, as well as Ukraine who requested to join NATO.
The inertia of US hegemony has trapped Europe in Washington's strategic orbit. The secretary-general of NATO was asked why Washington didn't remove its anti-missile system in Eastern Europe, since Iran's nuclear agreement was reached?
The chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations of American Senate was asked what happened after the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) put forward two prerequisites to terminate nuclear tests: stop US-South Korea military exercises and conclude a peace agreement through negotiations?
Why did the US refuse to respond, but wait for Pyongyang to conduct nuclear tests? What's Washington's objective for the Korean Peninsula? Was it to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system?
The deployment of THAAD system was useless compared to the short-distance hundreds of thousands of artillery of the DPRK. The real purpose to deploy THAAD system appears to weaken Beijing's deterrence.
The US response was rendered speechless, which reflected the inertia and capriciousness of US hegemony.
The Munich Security Conference revealed that nationalism, populism, democracy, poverty and wealth gap, inertia and capriciousness of US hegemony seem to be the root causes of the world's troubles.
The author is a senior research fellow of Charhar Institute, director of Center for EU Studies, Renmin University
( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )