How Military Strategy Can Aid the Response to COVID-19

Austrian soldiers wearing protective masks at a military ceremony in Vienna, April 27, 2020 (AP photo by Ronald Zak).
Austrian soldiers wearing protective masks at a military ceremony in Vienna, April 27, 2020 (AP photo by Ronald Zak).
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“We are at war,” French President Emmanuel Macron stressed while announcing a nationwide lockdown last month. He was not alone in his choice of rhetoric, as leaders around the world have invoked battlefield metaphors to galvanize national responses to the coronavirus pandemic. The drama of the analogy certainly makes it a convenient political instrument to justify radical state-led interventions. Yet it also blurs the differences between the current public health crisis and an actual war. During an armed conflict, militaries face human opponents with wills of their own, but there is no such enemy during this pandemic—only an unfeeling virus. […]

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