During his speech to the Munich Security Conference in 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a prediction that many in the West dismissed. He said the Western system of alliances — with its “one master, one sovereign” sitting in Washington, D.C. — would eventually “destroy itself from within.”
That speech has aged remarkably well. Twelve years on, as world leaders gathered in Munich again for their annual summit, the Europeans in attendance admitted that Putin had been right. As German Chancellor Angela Merkel put on Feb. 16, the global order had “collapsed into many tiny parts.”
That seemed clear enough from the disputes that raged throughout the Munich forum between the U.S. and its European allies, ranging from issues of trade to climate change and nuclear arms. Russia and other American rivals seized the chance to pry the West even further apart.