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Volume 54 Number 6, March 30, 2024 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Munich Security Conference 2024

A Manifestation of Morbid Preoccupation with Defeat for the Old World Order

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index :

Munich Security Conference 2024:
A Manifestation of Morbid Preoccupation with Defeat for the Old World Order

Farmers take action:
Farmers across Britain and Europe are Joining Together to Fight for their Rights

Munich Security Conference 2024

A Manifestation of Morbid Preoccupation with Defeat for the Old World Order

Anti-war protests outside Munich Security Forum, February 17, 2024
Other photos show protests organised by The Action Alliance Against the NATO Security Conference against the 2023 Munich Security Conference on February 17, 2023,
starting with a protest chain through the pedestrian zone and a protest march that symbolically surrounded the luxury hotel where the conference was held.

The 60th Annual Munich Security Conference (MSC) took place in Munich, Germany from February 16-18 at a time when nothing is working for the Anglo-US and old European powers. The fact is that even MSC's description of itself is no longer true. Set up in 1963 in the Cold War period it aimed to by-pass the United Nations as the international security body that includes all countries. The MSC claimed to be "world's leading forum for debating international security policy. It is a venue for diplomatic initiatives to address the world's most pressing security concerns." However, the conference ended without any positive decisions for resolving the Israeli war crimes and ethnic cleansing of Gaza, or NATO's proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. It ended up with a "key statement" [1] about "dark clouds and silver linings" bemoaning that the "above conflicts have deepened the gulf between the transatlantic partners and countries of the Global South and reinforced criticism of double standards".

Britain's Foreign Secretary David Cameron took part in the proceedings as well as Labour Party leader Keir Starmer. On his way to the conference, David Cameron first went on an official visit to Bulgaria and participated with the Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister, Mariya Gabriel, in a panel discussion. It was also reported that he met on the side-lines of the conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in line with the government's hostile "protect, align, and engage" approach to China.

This year's MSC's conference theme was "Lose-Lose?" which was also the title of the MSC's annual report this year. The policies of the US/NATO alliance and the European Union in the name of fighting terrorism and to guarantee peace, security, democracy and prosperity, have instead brought the world to the brink of disasters of unprecedented proportions, including famines, environmental catastrophes, and the killing of millions and millions of people that the rich consider disposable and whose migrations they have caused but want nothing to do with.

The framework adopted was of increasing geopolitical crises and tensions engulfing the world. The MSC drew the conclusion that many countries are choosing more and more to look after their self-interest at the expense of global co-operation. The authors in a morbid pre-occupation contended this will give rise to "lose-lose dynamics" that "undermines the existing international order, which in spite of all its flaws can still help grow the proverbial pie for the benefit of all".

It was not even acknowledged that accepting the genocide Israel is committing against the Palestinian people "undermines the existing international order".

This was particularly abhorrent and noticeable in the panel discussion with Britain's Foreign Secretary when he elaborated the British government's view on international security [2]. Asked to spell out the position on solving international problems and whether to unite with "democracies against autocracies" he said that "I think it is coalitions of the willing". It will be remembered that a "coalition of the willing" was the banner under which George W Bush and Tony Blair invaded Iraq and prosecuted the Iraq war, for which history has thoroughly condemned them. For David Cameron then to link this, as he did, with the importance of the sovereignty of borders just shows how bankrupt is all talk of "the existing international order", and that the blind pursuit of destruction is, against all reason, causing such devastation and threatening global anarchy. But for David Cameron this gangland and warmongering security policy is summed up by the non sequitur, "It is countries that are willing to bend their effort to deliver the will that is needed."

Of course, Britain's Foreign Secretary failed to mention at all Israel's invasion of Gaza and Britain's support for and arming of Israel in its genocide against Palestinians. He also failed to give any reference to the United Nations where Britain had, before the people's opposition to genocide forced them to reconsider, supported the US in vetoing UN demand for a ceasefire, let alone in solving any international security problems, or abiding by UN decisions. This confirmed at the conference the criminal nature of this Anglo/US "rules based order". This theme purveyed the whole conference and that this "rules based order" has nothing to do with international security but the morbid pre-occupation of these old imperialist powers to regain world hegemony by making up their own rules.

One of the main themes repeated over and over by the speakers such as US Vice-President Kamala Harris, EU President Ursula von der Leyen, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and others was how crucial it was for the "West" to continue to support Ukraine in its war for "freedom and democracy" and "our values" against Russia. No evidence is presented by any of the accusers to back these claims.

Another theme at the Conference was the enormous difficulties the EU and NATO are having in supplying arms to Ukraine. Despite an investment of some $88 billion in the last two years to supply Ukraine with training and arms, Russia has not been defeated but, on the contrary, its armed forces are increasing in strength and experience. The only hope the US/NATO forces have is to create the conditions for the war to go on for years, and try and ensure that anyone working for a peaceful solution have no say in the matter.

EU President Ursula von der Leyen noted that "Europe has to step up its industrial base ... I'm a convinced transatlanticist and at the same time we have to build a strong Europe and that goes hand in hand." She noted that the European Union will be tabling a proposal aimed at increasing defence spending, more efficiency with joint procurements and agreements that provide "predictability to industry" and "better interoperability" between Europe's military forces. She added that by focusing spending in Europe to create "good jobs", "European taxpayers" who are footing the bill will be served. The reality is that conflicts between the EU countries are increasing, especially over the question of Ukraine. For example, Germany aims to strengthen its role and relations independent of the EU.

What was completely missing in the MSC discussions was that it has become clear that the Ukrainian people themselves want a negotiated settlement to end the war as do the peoples of Britain, Europe, the US and other countries. The peoples of Europe, who have suffered through two world wars, do not want war or to have their countries turned into bases for Anglo-American interests. The world's people alongside the youth are demanding an end to this warmongering and are pursuing the demand for an immediate ceasefire and the just resolution to the conflicts in Palestine and Ukraine that uphold the rights of all and that favour the peoples of those countries and the world. In Britain the alternative that the people's forces base themselves on is that of step-by-step fighting for an Anti-War Government where it is the people's interests that prevail, not those of the warmongers and the so-called Munich Security Conference 2024.

1. Dark Clouds and Silver Linings Key Takeaways from the Munich Security Conference 2024
2. For video of the MSC Panel Discussion "De-risky Business: Trade and Global Prosperity in the Age of Economic Security Conference", see:

Article Index

Farmers take action

Farmers across Britain and Europe are Joining Together to Fight for their Rights

Over 100 tractors blocked streets around the Houses of Parliament on March 25, demanding support for food production and expressing concerns about the future of agriculture - Photo: The Drinks Business

Over 100 tractors blocked streets around the Houses of Parliament on March 25, demanding support for food production and expressing concerns about the future of agriculture. The protest, organised by Save British Farming and Fairness for Farmers of Kent, was largest such action so far in England, part of a growing movement involving farmers and agricultural workers, the latest section to join the collective demand by working people that "Enough is Enough!".

Protests have been taking place across England. On March 3, farmers in Kent drove a convoy of tractors and other vehicles through Canterbury to express anger over the low prices being paid by supermarket monopolies for their goods. In October last year, farmers in Somerset attempted to block a Morrisons distribution centre in Bridgwater. One banner read "Proud to Farm", upholding the dignity of their labour.

In Wales, 3,000 farmers gathered to demonstrate in Carmarthen to demonstrate against rising costs. Some carried a mock coffin with a plaque reading" "In memory of Welsh farming". In Ireland, over 100 members of the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) gathered on the outskirts of Galway city, expressing support for their counterparts on the Continent. In Mullingar, County Westmeath, farmers demanded a reduction in the bureaucratic burden through consultation with those working the land.

Similar demonstrations demanding that farmers' voices be heard have occurred over recent weeks and months across Europe, including in Greece, Germany, Portugal, Poland, Belgium, and France, and is set to become a feature of the upcoming European elections in June.

Brussels protest of farmers - 24/05/2023 - Photo: Hungary Today

In France on February 23, angry farmers returned to the streets of Paris with their tractors, on the eve of a major agricultural fair in the French capital. Farmers demanded more government support and simpler regulations to ease their burden. In Brussels, protests took place as part of international action on February 26, in the European quarter. Farmers clashed with police, spraying them with liquid manure and setting fire to piles of tyres.

Farmers' costs for energy, fertilisers, and transport have been increasing across Britain and the EU, while farm-gate prices have been simultaneously dropping. Some products, like olive oil, have experienced shortages, contrasting the trend.

In short, there is an unsustainable situation in agriculture across Britain and mainland Europe of crisis proportions, putting farmers' livelihoods at risk and affecting all in society who rely on the industry. Though there are many features, from disequilibrium between rising prices of raw materials and energy and falling produce prices, to supply chain disruption arising from trade blocs and embargoes, as well as the impact of environmental regulation, one key factor is the takeover of the sector by oligopolies in the form of ever fewer and larger monopolies and the cartel groupings they form amongst themselves. The dominance of these oligopolies allows them to manipulate prices, from the land and other raw resources, through to livestock, feed, fertilisers, and finally through to wholesale and end food prices. These oligopolies have the power to manipulate markets, and hold sway over all forms of public authority at every level. They use this power to drive smaller producers out of business, driving the creation of "bigger is better", larger farms. Oligarchic power also extends to the supermarkets, which are fixing prices and not paying the price of production.

Spanish Farmers - Photo: BBC

Another key factor is the contradictions between these competing sections of the global oligarchy, with competition for markets and control of regions and trade routes like the Red Sea and Suez Canal increasingly breaking out into war. Embargoes on Russian oil and gas have been a factor, while fertilisers from both Ukraine and Russia have been a subject of contention.

Ukraine’s cheap agricultural imports have impacted local produce in central and eastern Europe, as the EU waived quotas and duties on Ukrainian produce after the breakout of the war, leading to an influx of cheap goods. Contradictions are sharpening over the issue, and farmers in Poland and Hungary are demanding measures to address the competition they now face. Last year, Eastern Europe experienced border crossing blockades to prevent cheap imports entering from Ukraine.

The deterioration of the natural and social environment - in the present a direct result of the division of society and wars in the age of oligarchy - is such that immediate concerted action and deep-going changes are required. Yet this is itself utilised by authorities representing these powerful private interests to ruin the smaller farms. Germany's plan to phase out tax breaks on agricultural diesel, and the Netherlands' nitrogen emission reduction requirements, have in this context been raised as concerns by farmers in those countries.

A new militant phenomenon is breaking out across Europe with farmers and agricultural workers demanding "Enough is Enough!". It occurs at a time when workers' solidarity and internationalism is deepening its all-sided opposition to the imperialist offensive. At the same time, migrant farm workers in Britain, on whom production increasingly relies, are actively campaigning for their rights. A new coalition called the Seasonal Worker Interest Group was formed recently, supporting agricultural workers on the Seasonal Worker visa, and who are notoriously poorly treated. Additionally, there have been concerns about migrant farm workers being trapped and mistreated by employers in conditions of modern slavery [1].

The ruling elite and their media are working flat out to foster great British chauvinism to divert and block this movement by sowing divisions. The emphasis put by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on its "support for British farmers" is manipulation of the issues with this aim, as well as providing cover that the government is in no way dealing with the crisis.

In this situation, the concerns of farmers and agricultural workers need to be heard. The struggle of farmers and farm labourers is just. It is part of the generalised chaos and destruction that all people face. Indeed, food prices and availability of goods are affecting all people in the cost-of-living crisis.

People need to aim their action at the oligopolies and their representatives in power, organising themselves to defend their rights and address the crisis in food and other sectors. Solutions to the crisis, such as new techniques and investment in land, machinery and technology, or proposals to regenerate wasted land, are not taking place: it is agricultural workers themselves who hold the solutions.

1. "New UK coalition on migrant agricultural worker rights", FairSquare, November 7, 2023

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