By Manuel E. Yepe
http://manuelyepe.wordpress.com/Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
April 15, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
Finding the right balance between public security and personal freedom after COVID-19 “will require a review of everything we in the United States say we need to do in the interest of our security, which should involve moving away from militarized approaches to global problems to many other instruments of American power and influence.
This is what Christopher A. Preble, Vice-President of the CATO Institute for Defense and Foreign Policy in Washington DC, reflects in an article published in the magazine “Responsible Statecraft”, on the possible implications of the COVID-19 outbreak on the future of US foreign policy.
Among the responsibilities of many U.S. government officials is the identification of national security threats and prioritizing, among many options, the appropriate tools to address them.
Those who advocate increases in Pentagon spending – the so-called hawks in the language of the day – are likely to argue that resources should not be cut to the military to free up more resources for public health.
“We will soon be back to normal,” they will say from their perspective, “it would not be wise to redirect our national security strategy and spending to address one particular type of threat, at the expense of all others.
This is not exactly how politics responded after 9/11, but, in that case, the military eventually emerged victorious. In fact, anyone who opposed the militarized approach (that of the doves, who see the fight against terrorism as primarily an intelligence and law enforcement problem) was attacked by the hawks for not taking the threat seriously enough.
“Only a war would be enough; anything else would be naive, or even insensitive: a sign of indifference to the inevitable suffering of future victims of terrorist attacks.
That perspective, set a few days or weeks after 11 September 2001, has persisted. Even today, proposals to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan, for example, are met with serious warnings that this will increase the risk of future terrorist incidents in the United States. We are told that “only a continued, indefinite US military presence can manage this risk and the best we can do is to manage that danger.
Will such arguments survive the current crisis here at home? What politician will argue that Americans would have to die from COVID-19 today to ensure that other Americans are not killed by a terrorist in the future? And, will it be true that such military personnel so willing to “help” other countries are necessary to save our own?
The suggestion seemed absurd for generations, because the danger was not near, not even on the horizon. Now, it’s here.
If before it was considered naive to doubt that terrorism would represent a very serious threat to public security in the future, and skeptics were considered dangerously out of touch with reality, then the suggestion was not accepted,
Will the claims of the traditional defense hawks now come under greater scrutiny, without any senator or representative asking, for example, how that ship, tank or missile might function against a deadly pandemic?
In the post-September 11 era, a few dared to question whether the enormous expenses we had incurred amounted to unnecessary overreaction. But most Americans literally fell into that line.
The disease and its aftermath should provoke strong debate about how to preserve America’s national security.
In a peculiar twist, those who call for more spending to defeat the diseases could be called the hawks of the pandemic, while those who argue against it (and prefer that most resources stay in the military) become the doves.
The suggestion might seem odd, and the terms hawk and pigeon belong to more than just spending priorities. Because, even if the coronavirus didn’t change everything, it would necessarily change many things.
The senior leader of the Washington DC-based CATO Institute for Defense and Foreign Policy concludes that “finding the right balance between public security and personal freedom after COVID-19 will require Americans to review all the things we have to do to keep ourselves safe and to move away from a militarized approach to global problems.