ISSN 2330-717X

COVID-19: The Pandemic And Impact On Security Policy – Analysis

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By Matthias Rogg*

The world is caught up in an existential struggle. The opponent is intangible; it spares neither state nor social group and does not stop at any border. For many of us, this struggle feels like war. Indeed, with the growing use of war-like language1 in the fight against COVID-19, also called coronavirus, a rapidly rising number of victims,2 and last but not least the economic consequences which are becoming increasingly clear, we seem to be experiencing a war-like situation. This includes the more and more apparent social and psychological effects of the crisis: An increasing uncertainty among large social groups, but also a strengthening of group cohesion. People are afraid and join forces, but they also tend to be egoistic—certainly when their own livelihood is at risk—as illustrated by the EU member states’ initial responses to the pleas of Italy and Spain.

Currently, attention is focused on two areas; the medical and the social domain, with the latter including legal, economic, political, and cultural aspects.3 In view of the existential nature of the threat and the great uncertainties arising from the coronavirus crisis as well as the tensions that come with them, it is only a matter of time before this crisis also becomes the focus of security policy. Germany’s armed forces are already making a significant effort to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak. To address the coronavirus crisis, the Bundeswehr (the German Armed Forces) has mobilized 15,000 soldiers within a very short time,4 has set up four regional commands to facilitate coordination, has supported interagency action when it comes to procurement processes, and has organised further activities with creative ideas (e.g. by making use of the “Helping Hands” concept).5 The Bundeswehr has a long tradition of providing subsidiary assistance in emergency situations, which ranges from procurement and logistical support to area and facility protection by performing tasks in support of law enforcement and traffic control. Operations during an epidemic are nothing new to the Bundeswehr as shown most recently in the fight against Ebola in 2014 and 2015.6 What is new, however, is the scale and the speed with which states and societies around the world are being hit hard by the current crisis.

Pandemic Risks Have Been Known

The existential threat of a pandemic has always been a matter of public safety and security policy in Germany. The outbreak of the highly pathogenic Marburg virus in 1967 is just one example.7 As part of a notification provided by the Federal Government, an extensive chapter of the 2012 report on risk analysis in civil protection discusses a pandemic due to a “Modi-SARS virus.” In view of current events, this chapter reads like an ominous and all too accurate warning.8 In the current version of the White Paper on German Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr published in 2016, a short section entitled “Epidemics and Pandemics” links the risks of regional destabilisation to systemic risks (which may also emerge in our country) and to Germany’s interest in and responsibility for prevention and crisis management in cooperation with international partners and organisations.9

In 2015, the Helmut Schmidt University/Bundeswehr University Hamburg, on behalf of the Bundeswehr Office for Defence Planning, applied methods from the field of mathematics to compare different operations and research models that can be used to predict the course of an epidemic in a theater of operations.10 With regard to Africa, a dual strategy characterised by significantly improved infrastructure and early detection seemed to be the most promising. The Bundeswehr, together with NATO partner states, is already using disease surveillance systems such as ASTER to ensure the rapid detection of infectious disease outbreaks.11 To improve the infrastructure, the “One Million Community Health Workers” campaign, which was launched in 2013 and aims at employing one million community health workers in Africa, could be further developed.12 According to the study, both approaches would “revolutionise” health care systems in Africa, making the outbreak of an epidemic substantially more difficult.

The dangers of a pandemic have been known for some time. Experts have repeatedly pointed out the relevance of this topic for national and international security, emphasising the importance of both early detection and sufficient infrastructure. Internationally, pandemics have either been regarded as “black swans”13 or “wildcards”14 in simulations. Although Germany brought forward the topic of a pandemic among the international participants of the 2015 G7 and G20 summits,15 pandemics continued to represent an intractable problem faced not only by individual states or alliances, but by the entire world.16

The fact that all states in the world were surprised by the COVID-19 outbreak is perhaps not surprising. In fact, the 2019 Global Health Security (GHS) Index concluded that no nation was adequately prepared for an epidemic or a pandemic.17 Interestingly, the 2019 GHS Index still classified the United States and the United Kingdom as “well prepared;” two states which are currently facing strong criticism for their approaches to crisis prevention and management. Despite the world’s available capabilities as regards the early detection of epidemics (e.g. National Public Health Institute, Medical Intelligence, Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network),18 the alarm bells at the international systems were apparently not ringing loudly enough—or maybe we simply failed to hear them. Therefore, we can already state that when analysing the crisis in retrospect, the question as to why the world stumbled into this catastrophe like a sleepwalker will have to be the subject of a rigorous inquiry.19 Or perhaps the disaster was simply considered acceptable—for experts have long been warning of such a scenario!20

From a security policy point of view, two perspectives arise: One focuses mainly on the national level and the other on the international level, with the latter in turn opening up discussions of possible impacts on German security policy.

Germany’s Strategic Strength in the Face of the Crisis

Although the challenges of whole-of-government efforts should not be underestimated, Germany has been hit by the coronavirus crisis under comparatively favourable conditions. Today Germany is facing one crisis only. We neither have extreme weather events nor floods nor a government crisis to deal with—quite the opposite: We have a stable, experienced and, above all, effective government which enjoys the full confidence of the German people, especially in this situation. Furthermore, Germany can rely upon a functioning administration, an excellent health care system, and finally, upon an outstanding welfare system. The instrument of “short-time work allowance” alone, which is unique in the world, is a huge benefit to the economy. Unlike in many other countries, Western states among them, the public sector in Germany is in a strong financial position. Germany rightly enjoys the highest credit rating in the international financial markets and, therefore, has financial possibilities that enable quick and effective action. Thanks to the above Germany is very well set up in strategic terms.

COVID-19 Reveals Strategic Deficiencies

And yet, notwithstanding these favourable framework conditions in Germany, the crisis also makes it increasingly clear that federal states and municipalities lack substantial resources that, in theory, are required by law. Moreover, a lack of strategic reserves regarding personnel, material, and infrastructure at the federal level is also becoming apparent.21 People have not felt this vulnerable in generations. Shortages of essential goods in the health care sector (medication, protective equipment, etc.) suddenly show us how much we depend on global supply chains. This is even the case for products the manufacturing of which should not be an issue for an industrial nation with world renowned companies. For the very first time, many people are thinking about what and who is system-relevant during a crisis. Suddenly state regulation and resilience building are necessary again in the health care sector, even though only last year the closure of half of all German hospitals was being discussed for reasons of efficiency.22 To regain strategic autonomy, we must pay more attention to supplier diversity, stock keeping, and the avoidance of redundancies in the future. The management of certain resources, the importance of which often becomes evident only in the course of a crisis, must be identified as relevant at an early stage and centrally controlled. Hans-Peter Bartels, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces, got to the heart of the problem: “Having is better than needing!”23

Since the suspension of compulsory military service, the Bundeswehr has had only very few strategic personnel resources at its disposal, and is therefore yet again relying on the great commitment of our reservists. At the end of the day, however, the Bundeswehr is extremely limited in providing support due to its focus on operations abroad as well as on national and collective defence. The consequences for the public health system and the civilian relief agencies, which for decades had benefited from young men doing civilian service, have become more than apparent. Right now, we certainly could use these highly committed young people in the armed forces and, above all, in the social and health care systems. Additionally, the gradual downsizing of the armed forces over the past 30 years and the not always transparent decisions regarding different stationing concepts have led to the closure of numerous Bundeswehr facilities. Today Germany lacks a comprehensive infrastructure that, given its structural features, would be perfectly suitable for the setting up of emergency shelters or for isolation purposes across the country. When coping with refugees in 2015, it was painful to see these deficiencies, and now we are facing similar problems again. The fixed costs for maintaining a strategic reserve—be it with regard to personnel or material—could be far lower in the end than the direct costs and, especially, the resulting follow-up costs that may arise from a crisis. Germany urgently needs to improve this situation!

The Bundeswehr is Needed Now—and Will Still be Needed After COVID-19

When the crisis has abated, if not before, discussions on a national initiative to boost the economy, to revitalise the labour market, and to rebuild our social and cultural life will start immediately. Particularly because it is impossible to predict the long-term impact of the crisis at this point, and with some economic experts already comparing the current situation to national post-war recovery programmes, we should prepare for extreme competition for the financial resources that will be made available. Within the European Union, too, there are increasing calls for financial solidarity. Every citizen, every organization, and every institution is affected by the crisis and will seek compensation. Since most people today would probably associate the notion of “safety and security” with health, social welfare, and economic security, and as this is unlikely to change in the future, all aspects relating to Germany’s and Europe’s military security will very likely be pushed into the background. That would be disastrous.24 It is not only because the crisis so clearly reveals our strategic deficiencies and the Bundeswehr’s limited resources, but also because, thanks to the reversals initiated in funding, equipment and personnel trends, the armed forces have finally started a long overdue consolidation process. Stalling this process once more would be grossly negligent. For these reasons alone, it is of utmost importance that the Bundeswehr effectively proves its commitment during the crisis. The security policy challenges and threats which have justifiably led to a gradual growth in the defence budget will not simply disappear after COVID-19. The crisis indicates, on the contrary, that the security landscape will presumably become even more complicated and a comprehensive approach to security even more important.

New Opportunities in Security Policy

The question as to how the European Union, which is already under pressure, will emerge from the crisis is one that is yet to appear on the agenda. When Germany takes over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2020, COVID-19 will probably still be the dominant issue—and the expectations, especially with regard to Germany, will be huge. This will particularly be the case for the heavily affected member states Italy and Spain. The fact that they—and not only them25—had to ask countries such as China and Russia, their competitors in terms of security policy if not rivals in terms of political systems, for material assistance during the crisis because EU members had turned them down, and that they immediately received the help they had asked for, reflects, among other things, how desperate the situation is. Italy, a country that had only recently been planning to provide a substantial contribution to NATO’s large scale exercise “Defender Europe 2020,” is now grateful for material and personnel assistance from Moscow in the fight against the coronavirus.26 Russia not only wants to show the world its political strength and capacity to act, the Kremlin is probably also hoping to ease the tense relationship with NATO, maybe even to build a bridge which could result in loosening of the sanctions.

Russia, currently heavily focused on itself, is weakened by the crisis as well. The COVID-19 crisis has not peaked in Russia so far and reveals the infrastructural asymmetry between the centers of political and economic power with a highly developed health system and the rest of the country. A wide spread of the virus throughout Russia would probably have tremendous consequences. It is an open question whether Russia would accept any foreign assistance, especially from the West. Simultaneously, the Russian economy is being hit significantly by the global drop in oil prices. The overall lack of transparency in Russia is a problem for the West and makes it even more inscrutable and less predictable. Under these circumstances Russia might either pursue isolation while its problems increase, the political leadership misusing the situation to suppress the internal democratic movement; or intervention externally with new foreign—in the worst case—military adventures.

China, in contrast, has already dealt with the first wave of the epidemic successfully and could use these experiences to its advantage. At first glance China seems to have the pole position regarding the economic restart and it is leading in crisis-relevant medical research. China has already used this advantage for domestic and foreign propaganda in a clever way to foster its political standing. China could take advantage of economic and financial weakness of all affected states to create dependencies; not only in Africa but also in Europe as already seen through its humanitarian engagement in Italy, or its takeover of strategic infrastructure.27 While the West is reducing its development engagement globally, China might fill the political and economic gap.

There are signs however indicating that there is another facet at work (regarding security policy) inherent to the coronavirus; one that is not destructive but actually has the opposite effect. Security policy is changing everywhere in the world, and suddenly the impossible seems possible. In times of natural disasters, we have often seen conflict parties seek ways of working together, agree to ceasefires, and give their societies a moment to take a breath.28 A perfect example is the December 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia that also hit Indonesia. It opened up a space for dialogue between the Aceh rebels and the Indonesian government—a development which, up to that point, no one had thought possible.29 During the coronavirus crisis, Venezuela and Colombia, the United States’ adversary and closest ally respectively in that region, have begun to explore cooperation possibilities in the fight against the pandemic through the Pan American Health Organization. In Libya, the international actors have taken up negotiations to reach a “Corona ceasefire.”30 Shortly after the UAE had begun to support their “arch enemy” Iran with medical assistance in the fight against COVID-19, Qatar and Kuwait followed suit. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a one-month ceasefire in the fight against communist rebels to allow the armed forces to focus on fighting the coronavirus instead.31 And even the United States, despite years of conflict with Russia, has sent humanitarian aid to the secessionist region of Abkhazia. As a matter of fact, and without being too enthusiastic, one can conclude that we are currently seeing some progress in a number of conflicts which had seemed to have reached an impasse. German foreign and security policy actors should carefully monitor the changing conditions and seize any opportunities that may arise.

Europe faces possibly its greatest challenge since World War II. Yet here lies a huge opportunity to rediscover the lost European idea. The European community has historically proven a successful endeavour. Over the last two generations, two core domains made the European Community very successful; a common economical and financial agenda and shared security interests. Specifically, the aspect of a common European security, often neglected by observers, was built through the plans of the European Defence Community back in 1952, materialized through Multinational Military Corps like the Euro Corps in Strasbourg, France, and finally proven through comprehensive European Union Capacity Building Missions primarily in Africa. Both domains are building the foundation of the European Union’s “Wertegemeinschaft” (community of values). Therefore, we need to apply the lessons learned from the financial crisis of 2008, when European defence budgets saw significant cuts that are still impacting our current armed forces.32 Instead, Europe has to create a new comprehensive security strategy to remain a competitive actor in a global world. We need to be more European while remaining transatlantic partners as COVID-19 accelerates crises and conflicts.

Notwithstanding these encouraging signals and the fact that positive changes seem to be emerging, Germans tend to focus only on what is happening in the Western world. However, the unforeseeable consequences of a further spread of the pandemic to regions that already suffer from a precarious security situation33 could not be any more dramatic, and could aggravate the crisis in Germany in ways we cannot yet imagine. Despite the previously mentioned limited resources, a responsible approach to strategic and political thinking and action demands that we also take this dimension into account.34 Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, has once again appealed to Germany’s responsibility for and interest in Africa, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic. The current crisis has taught us, “We must thoroughly review supply chains to ensure that our supplies are not only crisis-proof, but also pathogen-free.”35 Many other states are finding themselves in a much more difficult situation. Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, warned that the lack of basic medical care in the many conflict zones in the world throws the doors wide open to COVID-19.36

The current low numbers of documented COVID-19 cases in Africa and the Middle East are obviously due to the fact that the number of tests is completely inadequate, as many states in those regions have only a rudimentary medical infrastructure. Consider the Horn of Africa, where states have only limited health infrastructures and resources to respond. Sudan, for example, has fewer than 80 ventilators and 200 Intensive Care Unit beds in a country of more than 40 million people. The situation in Somalia and South Sudan is even worse.37

In Africa we note the dangerous effects of health challenges affecting security and vice versa. Armed groups—typically non-state actors—have already exploited the situation created by the coronavirus, and Islamist militant groups and insurgent groups are expected to try to exploit the pandemic to their advantage.38 In Libya, despite the negotiations on an armistice, attacks on hospitals, health care workers and medical supplies have increased, as was seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the fight against Ebola. A Reuters article states, “The coronavirus pandemic is fuelling extremism on the far-right and far-left in Europe and giving Islamic State and other militants cover to regain influence, the European Union’s counter-terrorism chief has warned. And there have already been Islamic State-backed attacks in France and significant arrests in Spain and Germany.” The article quotes EU counter-terrorism Chief Gilles de Kerchove saying there is a need for heightened vigilance, especially in the weeks and months to come. “For decades we’ve been talking about the development of a biological weapon by a terrorism group. That’s the sort of thing we cannot lose sight of.” 39

However, the African states should not be underestimated—because they are far more experienced with pandemics than their European counterparts. At the same time, Africa’s urban centers are at high risk as it is likely that an outbreak of the coronavirus in a large African urban center would cause a human catastrophe. Realistically, the question is not if, but when that will happen and where it will start. The course of the Ebola epidemic clearly showed that fragile states where people have little confidence in their government undermine countermeasures of any sort.

In the Middle East experts of the International Crisis Group estimate the risk for north-western Syria, around the region of Idlib, and Yemen to be particularly high.40 Refugee camps are prominent among the other hot spots in the world; not only Moria on Lesbos, a place which has almost been forgotten, but also the camps in the Gaza Strip or those inhabited by the one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Wherever borders have been closed for refugees, as for example in Brazil and Columbia for refugees from Venezuela, the potential for violence grows. The continued travel restrictions which often indiscriminately apply to humanitarian workers, make it even more difficult to organise help on-site and to gain reliable situational awareness. As dramatic as a COVID-19 outbreak would be in an overcrowded refugee camp, it is nearly impossible to imagine how the local security forces would react and what this humanitarian disaster would mean for the political stability of already unstable regions.

The risk of migrants being smuggled to Europe is increasing, as EUROPOL has warned: “While the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis in Europe is not yet clear, it is expected that its impact on economies in the developing world is likely to be even more profound. Prolonged economic instability and a sustained lack of opportunities in many African economies may trigger another wave of irregular migration towards the EU in the mid-term.”41

The coronavirus has a toxic effect on authoritarian states as it accelerates crises and conflicts. The latest measures introduced by the Hungarian government using the coronavirus crisis as an excuse, i.e. declaring a state of emergency with no time limit allowing the government to rule by decree, remind us, especially we Germans, of the Enabling Act of 1933—and thus of the darkest of all chapters in our history.42 Other examples from China, Algeria, and Russia show that with reference to COVID-19 oppositions’ rights are being restricted even further43 likely adding to the flow of refugees. It is also possible that, as the International Crisis Group convincingly notes, COVID-19 might induce such governments even to use the crisis as cover to embark on foreign policy adventures expecting the international community to be unable to react.44

Irrespective of which political orientation the crisis-shaken, economically weak states in the wider Middle East and in Africa have chosen, they are particularly vulnerable to the pandemic, have little chance of establishing an effective crisis management, and would very likely find it much more difficult to consolidate themselves politically, economically and socially in the wake of a pandemic. It takes little imagination to realise that COVID-19 would accelerate the crises and conflicts in those countries in many different ways.

Seven Theses and Recommendations for Action on COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic poses an existential threat to the entire world. As noted above, for many of us, this struggle feels like war—even if the guns have been silent so far. At the moment, we are still mainly dealing with the medical challenges, and with questions such as when life can return to what we remember as normal, or how we will be able to cope with the economic consequences. All this is important. Focusing on one’s closer private circle or, at most, the national level is understandable. Yet it should not blur our vision when analysing international developments. The pandemic also has a security policy dimension the importance of which will only increase further. This article concludes with several summary observations and recommendations;

  1. The COVID-19 pandemic will presumably open up opportunities for foreign and security policy as actions previously considered inconceivable are now emerging. Germany should carefully monitor ongoing developments and consider where it would be helpful, and also in its own interest, to put its weight into the balance and use its influence at the international level.
  2. Learning with and from the crisis means giving more strategic consideration to “global health and security” in the future. This topic must become the center of our attention—it must be the focus of our foreign and security policy and, thus, also of the armed forces.
  3. German politicians keep emphasising the importance of scientific expertise during the crisis, and for this very reason the causes and manifestations of the crisis must be thoroughly investigated using scientific methods—and these investigations must start immediately. To this end, the Bundeswehr is called upon to contribute with all the resources of its universities and scientific institutes. This includes, always as part of a comprehensive approach, the execution of war games with decisionmakers as well as the development and maintenance of science-based models under pandemic conditions.
  4. The conflicts emerging in the complex framework of health, the economy, and safety and security indicate that new ethical answers must be found for these conflicts, too.
  5. Scarcely less important than the above is an honest, empirical, and critical analysis of the performance and coverage of medical early-warning systems, social resilience, as well as the employment of the Bundeswehr during the crisis.
  6. We need a genuine debate about Germany’s strategic reserves. And this discussion should not be limited to material aspects such as supply chains, procurement processes and stock holding: The introduction of a mandatory year of service, a topic that has been buried many times before, needs to re-appear on the political agenda—for when would be a better time to discuss the matter?
  7. COVID-19 is a global challenge which requires global and comprehensive action. Germany, with its international reputation, particularly in the areas of foreign, security, and development policy, has work to do in this respect. Germany’s leaders must prove whether they are willing and capable of thinking and acting in a comprehensive manner. It is only a matter of time before the virus spreads into the most deprived regions of the world. Today we still have time to imagine the consequences and consider possible reactions. When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, we completely underestimated the coronavirus. We should not—must not—make the same mistake again! 

*About the author: Colonel Professor Dr. Matthias Rogg is Head of the German Institute for Defence and Strategic Studies (GIDS).
This article is published jointly with the GIDS: the German version is available at https://gids-hamburg.de/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/GIDSstatement2020_1_Rogg_COVID19.pdf.

Source: This article was published in PRISM Vol. 8, No. 4, which is published by the National Defense University.

Notes

1 Cf. Donald Trump’s most recent statements in which he called himself a ‘wartime president’, <https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8127239/Donald-Trump-says-hes-wartime-president-fighting-unseen-enemy.html>.

2 In Italy alone, the death toll at the end of March and beginning of April (approx. 1,000 deaths a day) was about twice as high as the average number of casualties in Italy during WW I (approx. 460 deaths a day).

3 Cf. also the Ad hoc Recommendation by the German Ethics Council entitled ‘Solidarity and Responsibility during the Coronavirus Crisis’, which is worth reading, available at <https://www.ethikrat.org/fileadmin/Publikationen/Ad-hoc-Empfehlungen/englisch/recommendation-coronavirus-crisis>.

4 Matthias Gebauer, Konstantin von Hammerstein, “Bundeswehr mobilisiert 15.000 Soldaten”, Spiegel online, March 27, 2020, available at <https://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/corona-krise-bundeswehr-mobilisiert-15-000-soldaten-a-fb7668c0-a47f-4ca5-b83b-3a2ddd3b68a1>.

5 Christoph Loose, Jasmin Henning, “Corona: Bundeswehr beliefert Senioren in Wilhelmshaven”, available at <https://www.bundeswehr.de/de/organisation/streitkraeftebasis/aktuelles/corona-bundeswehr-beliefert-senioren-in-wilhelmshaven-230672>.

6 Sven M. Funke, “‘Phönix aus der Asche’ Kampf gegen Ebola – die humanitäre Hilfe des Deutschen Roten Kreuzes und der Bundeswehr in Westafrika”, Wehrmedizin und Wehrpharmazie, Vol. 59 (5), pp. 155–159.

7 See the well-researched Wikipedia article (in German) on the Marburg virus: <https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marburg-Virus?wprov=sftil, last accessed on 1 April 2020>.

8 Federal Government, Unterrichtung durch die Bundesregierung: Bericht zur Risikoanalyse im Bevölkerungsschutz 2012 (Deutscher Bundestag, Drucksache 17/12051 dated 3 January 2013), pp. 5–6 and 55–88, available at <https://www.bbk.bund.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/BBK/DE/Downloads/Krisenmanagement/BT-Bericht Risikoanalyse im BevSch 2012.pdf? blob=publicationFile>.

9 Federal Ministry of Defence, White Paper 2016 on German Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr, pp. 44–45, available at <https://issat.dcaf.ch/download/111704/2027268/2016%20White%20Paper.pdf>.

10 Robin St. Mathea, Eine Übersicht über dynamische Modelle zur mathematischen Epidemiologie, 2015, Helmut-Schmidt-Universität/Universität der Bundeswehr: Hamburg, available at <https://studylibde.com/doc/10758898/technischer-report—helmut-schmidt>.

11 ASTER is the acronym of ‘Alerte et Surveillance en Temps Réel’, the proven French real-time surveillance system that was adopted by NATO; cf. Hans-Ulrich Holtherm, “Entwicklung einer multinationalen ‘Deployment Health Surveillance Capability (DHSC)’ für die NATO”, Wehrmedizin und Wehrpharmazie, available at <https://wehrmed.de/article/2180-entwicklung-einer-multinationalen-deployment-health-surveillance-capability-dhsc-fuer-die-nato.html>.

12 Information on the One Million Community Health Workers Campaign: <http://1millionhealthworkers.org/about-us/>.

13 Krim Delko, “Der Black Swan ist tatsächlich eingetroffen”, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, March 3, 2020, available at <https://www.nzz.ch/finanzen/der-black-swan-ist-tatsaechlich-eingetroffen-ld.1544006>.

14 In futurology, the term ‘wildcard’ is used for an event that is highly unlikely to occur, the consequences of which, however, would be very serious. Cf. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_card_(foresight)>.

15 Federal Government, Final Report by the Federal Government on the G7 Presidency 2015, 2015, available at <https://www.bundesregierung.de/resource/blob/998348/456776/55d315d9e1983d3845909c588331e03f/2016-01-20-g7-abschluss-eng-en-data.pdf?download=1>.

16 The question as to why e.g. South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore reacted early and decisively to the spread of the virus and thus, based on what we currently know, are dealing with the crisis more successfully will need to be further investigated.

17 Global Health Security Index, available at <https://www.ghsindex.org>.

18 <https://netzpolitik.org/2020/corona-tracking-datenschutz-kein-notwendiger-widerspruch/>; Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network: <https://extranet.who.int/goarn/>.

19 The words ‘stumbled’ and ‘like a sleepwalker’ were chosen deliberately based on Christopher Clark’s instructive analysis as to how the world staggered into war in 1914: Christopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 (London: Penguin: 2013).

20 Cf. the panel by Commander (MC) Dr Christian Haggenmiller (GIDS) at the World Health Summit in Berlin from 14 to 16 October 2018. See Megan Gannon, “An Unknown ‘Disease X’ Could Become an Epidemie. Can We Find It Before It’s Too Late?”, Livescience, October 18, 2018, available at <https://www.livescience.com/63862-disease-x-animal-source.html>. Cf. also Adam Jezard, “The World Health Organization Is Preparing for ‘Disease X’”, World Economic Forum, March 28, 2018, available at <https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/03/the-who-is-preparing-for-disease-x/>.

21 Stefan Bayer, “Intervention statt Prävention als politisches Paradigma?”, #GIDSstatement, No. 2/2020, available at <https://gids-hamburg.de/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/GIDSstatement2020_2_Bayer_Intervention-1.pdf>.

22 Jan Böcken, “Eine bessere Versorgung ist nur mit halb so vielen Kliniken möglich”, Bertelsmann Stiftung, July 15, 2019, available at <https://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/de/themen/aktuelle-meldungen/2019/juli/eine-bessere-versorgung-ist-nur-mit-halb-so-vielen-kliniken-moeglich/>.

23 Johannes Varwick, Johannes, “Dr Hans-Peter Bartels interviewed by Prof. Dr Johannes Varwick from the GSP in Berlin”, GSP-Einblick 1/2020, March 27, 2020, p. 5, available at <https://www.gsp-sipo.de/news/news-details/gsp-einblick-als-neues-gsp-format-mit-interviews-standpunkten-und-essays>.

24 In this respect journalist Andreas Flocken states: “From what we have seen, the coronavirus seems to be a much bigger threat than the superpower rivalry between Russia and the United States. This is a result that perhaps should have an impact on the armaments efforts in the East and in the West.”, in:Andreas Flocken, NDR Info, Das Forum – Streitkräfte und Strategien (radio programme script), March 21, 2020, available at <https://www.ndr.de/nachrichten/info/sendungen/streitkraefte_und_strategien/streitkraeftesendemanuskript778.pdf>.

25 China, for example, is taking advantage of the current crisis by expanding its already strong position in Africa even further and promises an incredible amount of medical help for every (!) state of the continent. Cf. International Crisis Group, “Covid-19 and Conflict: Seven Trends to Watch”, Crisis Group Special Briefing, No. 4, New York/Brussels, p. 11, available at <https://www.crisisgroup.org/global/sb4-covid-19-and-conflict-seven-trends-watch>.

26 Ellen Ivits, “From Russia With Love. Russland schickt Corona-Hilfe nach Italien – was sich Putin davon verspricht”, Stern, March 27, 2020, available at <https://www.stern.de/politik/ausland/coronavirus–was-sich-russland-von-der-hilfe-an-italien-verspricht–9198832.html>.

27 For example Chinas ambitions and influence in the Mediterranean Sea: George Georgiopolous, Angeliki Koutantou, Renee Maltezou, “China, Greece Agree to Push Ahead With COSCO’s Piraeus Port Investment”, Reuters, November 11, 2020, available at <https://www.reuters.com/article/us-greece-china/china-greece-agree-to-push-ahead-with-coscos-piraeus-port-investment-idUSKBN1XL1KC>.

28 Joakim Kreutz, “From Tremors to Talks: Do Natural Desasters Produce Ripe Moments for Resolving Separatist Conflicts?”, International Interactions, Vol. 38:4, 2020, pp. 482–502.

29 Juan Garrigues, “Conflict and Peace Scenarios in Time of COVID-19”, CIDOB Opinion 618, 2020, available at <https://www.cidob.org/en/publications/publication_series/opinion/seguridad_y_politica_mundial/conflict_and_peace_scenarios_in_times_of_covid_19>.

30 Juan Garrigues, “Conflict and Peace Scenarios in Time of COVID-19”, CIDOB Opinion 618, 2020, available at <https://www.cidob.org/en/publications/publication_series/opinion/seguridad_y_politica_mundial/conflict_and_peace_scenarios_in_times_of_covid_19>.

31 International Crisis Group, “Covid-19 and Conflict: Seven Trends to Watch”, Crisis Group Special Briefing, No. 4, New York/Brussels, available at <https://www.crisisgroup.org/global/sb4-covid-19-and-conflict-seven-trends-watch>.

32 Sophia Becker, Christian Mölling, Torben Schütz, “Deterrence and Defense in Times of COVID-19. Europe’s Political Choices”, DGAP Policy Brief No. 9 April 2020, available at < https://dgap.org/sites/default/files/article_pdfs/dgap-policybrief-2020-09-en.pdf >.

33 Mahmoud Barakat, “Conflict Region Vulnerable to COVID-19 Catastrophe”, Anadolu Agency, March 28, 2020, available at <https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/conflict-regions-vulnerable-to-covid-19-catastrophe/1782833>.

34 Nora Müller, “EU Sicherheitspolitik. Wir müssen vorbereitet sein”, Die Zeit, March 25, 2020, available at <https://www.zeit.de/politik/2020-03/eu-sicherheitspolitik-corona-krise-bedrohungslage-budget?wt_zmc=sm.ext.zonaudev.mail.ref.zeitde.share.link.x>.

35 Gerd Müller, “Halbzeiten kosten uns das ganze Leben. Wie wir heute verhindern müssen, dass Entwicklungsländer um Jahrzehnte zurückgeworfen und Lieferketten auf Dauer von Corona belastet werden”, Der Tagesspiegel, March 30, 2020, available at <https://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/halbheiten-kosten-uns-das-ganze-leben-nur-zusammen-mit-den-schwachen-staaten-kann-die-pandemie-bezwungen-werden/25694016.html>.

36 Peter Maurer, “COVID-19 Poses a Dramatic Threat to Life in Conflict Zones”, World Economic Forum, March 27, 2020, available at <https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/covid-19-poses-a-dramatic-threat-to-life-in-conflict-zones/>.

37 Susan Stigant, “COVID-19 and Conflict: Horn of Africa”, United Institute of Peace, April 30, 2020, available at <https://www.usip.org/blog/2020/04/covid-19-and-conflict-horn-africa>.

38 Exx Africa, “COVID-19 & Insecurity: Armed Groups Exploit the Coronavirus in Africa”, Exx Africa Insight, April 16, 2020, available at <https://exxafrica.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/COVID-19-INSECURITY-ARMED-GROUPS-EXPLOIT-THE-CORONAVIRUS-IN-AFRICA.pdf>.

39 Luke Baker, “Militants, Fringe Groups Exploiting COVID-19, Warns EU Anti-Terrorism Chief”, Reuters, available at <https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-eu-security/militants-fringe-groups-exploiting-covid-19-warns-eu-anti-terrorism-chief-idUSKBN22C2HG>.

40 International Crisis Group, “Covid-19 and Conflict: Seven Trends to Watch”, Crisis Group Special Briefing. No. 4, New York/Brussels, pp. 2–3, available at <https://www.crisisgroup.org/global/sb4-covid-19-and-conflict-seven-trends-watch>.

41 Europol, “Beyond the Pandemic – What Will the Criminal Landscape Look Like After COVID-19? Press Release”, Europol, April 30, 2020, available at <https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/beyond-pandemic-what-will-criminal-landscape-look-after-covid-19>.

42 Stefan Löwenstein, “Regieren per Dekret. Orbans Dauerermächtigung?”, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, March 23, 2020, available at <https://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/ausland/corona-in-ungarn-viktor-orbans-fristlose-ermaechtigung-16692658.html>.

43 International Crisis Group, “Covid-19 and Conflict: Seven Trends to Watch”, Crisis Group Special Briefing, No. 4, New York/Brussels, p. 7, available at <https://www.crisisgroup.org/global/sb4-covid-19-and-conflict-seven-trends-watch>.

44 International Crisis Group, “Covid-19 and Conflict: Seven Trends to Watch”, Crisis Group Special Briefing, No. 4, New York/Brussels, p. 10, available at <https://www.crisisgroup.org/global/sb4-covid-19-and-conflict-seven-trends-watch>.

NDU Press

NDU Press

The National Defense University (NDU) is the premier center for Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) and is under the direction of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. The University's main campus is on Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D.C. The Joint Forces Staff College is located in Norfolk, Va. The College of International Security Affairs (CISA) has satellite campuses at Fort Bragg, S.C., and Tampa, Fla.

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