World’s Militaries Face Challenge: Fight Coronavirus or Each Other

Pandemic creates new opportunities for countries to find common interests

As the coronavirus pandemic takes off around the world, a number of nations are trying to militarize the fight, with the armies charged with trying to combat a new “invisible enemy.” By and large, these militaries weren’t just sitting around, and were already engaged in operations with enemy forces, fighting wars or preparing for them.

With this big new responsibility, it’s not exactly easy for those militaries to do that as well. This is either a huge burden, or a major opportunity, as these nations may look to find common interests with one another, and fighting the virus is a big such interest.

The UN has tried to take this as an opportunity to push global ceasefires in conflicts, and some nations have decided that seems like an idea. Saudi Arabia has stemmed operations in Yemen, at least temporarily, and other nations are scaling back training operations around the world.

Israel, by contrast, are escalating against the besieged Gaza Strip in their time of weakness, denying them access to coronavirus kits and shooting at fishermen off the coast. Settler attacks are also up substantially against the Palestinians.

Which isn’t to say that any major military powers are looking to start making peace on a large scale yet. Despite the worry about the virus, many seems to have a real hesitancy to putting the wars on hold. Hit hardest by the virus, the US military is reacting by warning how ready they are to respond to challenges.

As the largest military force, the US could really lead by example here, and show that in a time of global crisis there are bigger issues to worry about than keeping temporary regional wars going full tilt in chances

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.