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Last weekend, Helmut Schmidt and Henry Kissinger participated in a discussion at the Munich Security Conference – just as they did a half-century ago, when they took part in the first Internationale Wehrkunde-Begegnung (the forerunner of today's conference).Kleist wanted to contribute to the creation of a German "strategic community," which could make its own contributions to the NATO debate, rather than just absorbing whatever their technologically superior U.S. ally proposed.In the past, the Western allies' participation in NATO and its Nuclear Planning Group accommodated their concerns and prevented them from becoming mere objects of U.S. strategy. Today, we need similar initiatives with regard to the digital world. This year's MSC included not only security officials from many countries but also three dozen German parliamentarians and a significant U.S. congressional delegation. The debate is not – and should not be – between Europe and the U.S. Some Americans are grateful for Edward J. Snowden's revelations about the NSA, which they believe have stimulated urgently needed public deliberation.During the conference this year in Munich, the Schmidts and Kissingers of today and tomorrow had an opportunity to engage in what was probably the most important strategic debate of our time: how to prevent the West from falling apart in the digital age.
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