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The Western Alliance in the Digital Age

Though the security implications of the digital age are less tangible and not as destructive as a nuclear attack, the technological possibilities fundamentally alter the playing field of international relations. This weekend's Munich Security Conference offers an opportunity to begin uniting the West behind a common strategy.

MUNICH – This weekend, Helmut Schmidt and Henry Kissinger will participate in a discussion at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) – just as they did a half-century ago, when they took part in the first “Internationale Wehrkunde-Begegnung” (the forerunner of today’s conference). In the meantime, many developments around the world have given us reason to rejoice – but also to reflect.

It is not only the crises extending from Ukraine to Syria that will prevent the MSC, the fiftieth, from becoming an exercise in self-celebration. The transatlantic partnership, traditionally the backbone of the conference, has seen better days than these.

The United States has now at least recognized that a great deal of trust has been lost in recent months, owing to the scale of surveillance undertaken by its National Security Agency. President Barack Obama’s speech about reforms of US intelligence-gathering activities, as well as his subsequent interview on German television, represented a first attempt to regain the confidence of America’s allies. But it signals, at most, the beginning of an intensive transatlantic dialogue on the issue.

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