Newsweek: ‘National Security’ Is too Crude to protect Us From Pandemics


ON 3/17/20 AT 3:46 PM EDT

Whose security is threatened by the coronavirus? The Chinese, the Italians, the Americans? The answer, of course, is everyone’s security is threatened. The virus has no regard for national identity. It crosses borders unhindered by all the weapons and strategic structures supposed to protect our security.

There is a lesson here that deserves attention: the concept of “security” must be redefined, or at least expanded. For a long time, it has been defined singularly in nationalistic terms, measured by military strength. Many trillions of dollars continue to be spent on weapons to defend nations against threats they pose to each other. Vast institutions have been created around these weapons, and outstanding intellects are dedicating their brilliance to strengthening these institutions and designing strategies for using these weapons—all in the name of national security.

But as this pandemic spirals around the world, and as militaries lie helpless before it, it’s appropriate to ask whether we would be better off if more resources and attention were pooled and devoted to addressing threats to human security.

Coronavirus is a wake-up call to stop ignoring our common human condition.

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