The West Can’t Even Agree on Itself, Much Less China

At the Munich Security Conference, allies argued with each other as much as their adversaries, rejecting Trump administration views on issue after issue.

MUNICH – The West is failing and conflict with China is inevitable. Or is it? To judge from the hand-wringing at the high-powered Munich Security Conference last weekend, the only consensus about Western power right now is that there is no consensus.

Munich is an interesting event. In a small but ridiculously ornate Bavarian hotel, world leaders trailed by delegations and security details as big as their personalities squeeze past former global figures and sycophants, ambassadors and legislators, bureaucrats of today and yesterday, opposition-party officials patiently lying in wait, academics and scholars, a very skeptical global press, and a smattering of wide-eyed young professionals.

Everyone talks. The whole affair feels like a scene of whispering courtesans in Dangerous Liaisons, if it happened inside a crowded London tube station at rush hour. All that’s missing are the wigs.

Instead of dalliances, the two issues that hung over every hallway conversation were: What to do about China? And what to do about ourselves, the West?

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