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Is Europe still complicated and mysterious?

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18.02.2019

In 1939, Prime Minister Kiichiro Hiranuma resigned after making the famous statement, “With the conclusion of a non-aggression treaty between Germany and the Soviet Union, the situation in Europe is so ‘complicated and mysterious’ that we need a new set of policies instead of those already prepared.”

Although globalization has made the world much smaller 80 years later, Europe is still a distant place from Asia. It is particularly so when it comes to national security and the outcome of the 2019 Munich Security Conference is no exception. The following are my take on this year’s important trans-Atlantic event.

For those who don’t know, MSC is an annual conference on international security policy that has been held in Munich since 1963 with the exceptions of 1991 due to the Gulf War and 1997 due to the retirement of the conference’s founder. 2019 marks MSC’s 55th meeting. Japan, China and India have joined the MSC since 1999.

Traditionally, the MSC has been the venue for the United States and its European allies to reconfirm the strength of the trans-Atlantic alliance. Things started to change since 2016, however, when Donald Trump was elected president of the United States and the United Kingdom voted in a national referendum for Brexit.

Although I only watched it on YouTube, this year’s MSC was probably one of the most disastrous moments for the U.S. delegation, which was headed by Vice President Mike Pence. When he spoke at the inaugural John McCain Award Ceremony on Friday, Pence began with a line he often uses in his speeches: “I bring greetings from a great........

© The Japan Times