The world under the thumb of a virus

The world has witnessed wars — some on a global scale, within regions and within nations. There have been civil wars and a cold war era which symbolised the stockpile of nuclear armaments among the global superpowers.

The 21st century has witnessed increase in intra state conflicts and the rise of criminal non state actors posing huge challenges for all nations.

To ensure deterrence and forestall another full-blown global military conflict such as the first and second world wars, developed nations have continued to invest heavily in building their armed forces.

Even countries considered undeveloped or classified as developing nations invest heavily in weapons procurement, research and development.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) fact sheet and International  Institute for Strategic Studies indicates that 15 countries have maintain their lead in global military spending as follows: United States, China, Saudi Arabia,  Russia, India, United Kingdom, France, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Brazil, Italy, Australia, Israel and Iraq.

Other nations  among the leading global spenders in military investment in terms of military industrial complex and boots on the ground include Pakistan, South Korea, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Colombia, Ukraine, Belarus, Oman, Kuwait,  South Africa, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Uzberkistan, Sudan, Singapore, Chad, Mali, Bianca, Myanmar and Congo.

Nigeria also spends fairly on defence and security. This has increased with the current and emerging security challenges.

This is understandable because when states are rated, there military might is one yardstick, indeed, the most important parameter used. The strength of their armed forces — numbers of officers and men, tanks, fighter jets, warships, nuclear weapons or war heads among others are considered.

And with the advert of technology, war planners are more worried about the impact of technology and future of warfare. In this instance, nations are concerned about cyber warfare – bio and chemical warfare and how to protect national critical infrastructure from cyber criminals.

Despite  this huge military investment by countries, the invasion of Coronavirus (COVID 19), has exposed the global community’s lack attention to human security and vulnerability.

The helplessness of even the so called super powers and leading spenders on military infrastructure shows that in the assessment of strategic environment at global, regional and domestic levels, nations have failed to realize that threats go beyond guns and bullets.

In analyzing risks and challenges to  national security, taking into cognizance national, vital, strategic and peripheral interests, human security has always been relegated to the background.

Even though, experts have continued to warn about holistic approach to threat analyses, in assessing internal, external and trans-border threats, countries have failed to take seriously threats of terrorism, cyber crimes, climate change, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, proliferation of nuclear biological, chemical and radiological weapons; and threat of epidemic and pandemic diseases.

In continuous attempt to project their national power, it is always about military might. Even simulations and war games are about military battles, not perhaps about a likely virus invasion and what should be done to protect citizens.

As noted by Bill Gates, the world has invested too much in war machines to the detriment of provision of social needs of the people. Gates warned five years ago about likely pandemic and what world leaders need to do.

“If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war… Not missiles, but microbes.” Gates advised the international community on the need “to give similar attention to a massive mobilization against a killer virus, the way countries have fought to reduce the risk of nuclear war.”

“We’ve actually invested very little in a system to stop an epidemic… We’re not ready for the next epidemic” A virus “like the Spanish flu of 1918 would spread throughout the world very, very quickly. And you can see over 30 million people died from that epidemic. So this is a serious problem. We should be concerned.”

Well the world has come face to face with Gates’ forecast and is almost helplessly at the mercy of a viral invasion with nearly no remedy in sight.

As COVID 19 continues to spread, melting economoes and humbling super powers, the global community must be united and embrace the UNDP’s definition which recommends that security should include seven critical areas namely economy, food, health, environment, personnel community and political security.

It’s time to build a world focused on empowering citizens through good governance and provision of necessary social amenities. Rather than focus on wars, the world should focus on achieving the SDGs.  To achieve this, countries should heed  the advise of Gates: “Individual countries, the World Health Organization, and others need to create medical strike teams that train like military soldiers, run simulated pandemic exercises, and prepare to quickly move into areas where pandemics are starting to test and treat victims…”

“Governments …need to invest far more in medical equipment, vaccine research”, etc to face threats like Covid 19.

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