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NDC - News- The pandemic and the military: towards total defence?

The pandemic and the military: towards total defence?

  • 24 Nov. 2020
  • |
  • Last updated: 24 Nov. 2020 12:05

NDC Policy Brief 21-20


The COVID-19 pandemic, which broke out in December 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan and quickly spread across the globe, will have a lasting impact on worldwide economic, political and strategic developments. Some observers question whether the different approaches by nations to the pandemic may benefit or hinder global economic competition.1 Others worry that some states may exploit the pandemic as a pretext to curtail individual freedoms. 2 Still others note the emergence of an outright “battle of narratives” on the origins of the virus and the correct approach to bringing it under control, adding fuel to an already lingering “systemic” contest. 3



* (back) Antonio Missiroli is Non-Resident Associate Fellow at the NDC and was previously NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges; Michael Rühle is Head of NATO’s Hybrid Challenges and Energy Security Section. The authors, who write here in a personal capacity, thank Philip H. Lott for his invaluable research.

1 (back) K. Mahbubani, “How China could win over the post-coronavirus world and leave the US behind”, Market Watch, 18 April 2020.

2 (back) S. Simon, “Subtle connections: pandemic and the authoritarian impulse”, Survival, Vol.62, Iss.3, June-July 2020, pp.103-111.

3 (back) See for instance F. Gaub, L. Boswinkel, “Who’s first wins? International crisis response to COVID-19”, Policy Brief, No.11, EU Institute for Security Studies, May 2020; B. Tertrais, “Year of the rat: the strategic consequences of the Coronavirus crisis’, Note, No.17, Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, April 2020.

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