The situation created by the rise of the virus COVID-19 in Spain and the subsequent declaration of the State of Alarm throughout our country deserves to be carefully analyzed due to its evident repercussions for national security. In addition to the consequences that this is having for the citizens’ health, which is ultimately the main objective of all security and defense policies, the spread of the coronavirus is demanding the adoption of decisions that affect public rights and freedoms, the financial system or strategic sectors such as food supply and transportation. It is the first time in recent history that such a major disruption of economic and social life has occurred and, therefore, it is worth reflecting and taking note of everything that can help us to react better in the future.
In the first place, the coronavirus outbreak should serve to make us aware of the extreme vulnerability of our societies. We often think that modernity has managed to solve all problems, that technology has made us almost invincible. Yet the reality is that the enormous complexity of our lifestyle has multiplied the risk factors. A virus of moderate danger that emerged in China has been enough to paralyze entire countries located thousand kilometers away in a few months.
The next step should be a personal change of attitude from a whole society approach. We have to be aware of the inevitability of certain events that affect our lives and thus reasonably prepare ourselves for when they occur. We must also avoid waiting for the authorities´ instructions to take the safety measures that we could take right away. Above all, we can not let ourselves be carried away by fear. We must assess carefully if our situation is grave enough to ask for help or if, on the contrary, we are able to deal with it on our own and help prevent the collapse of the public services.
This change in our individual attitude must be accompanied by an improvement of the readiness of the Government and Public Administrations. Spain has equipped itself with a National Security Strategy and has the means and resources to deal with situations like the one we are suffering. All this has been possible over the years thanks to the effort of the Armed Forces, the State Security Forces and the different Public Administrations, in addition to the close cooperation with universities, research centers and the private sector. Unfortunately, all this work has not been well supported neither politically or on the budget-level since the security issues have not been considered a priority. We hope that this crisis will be useful to increase our leaders’ interest in them and to start dedicating the resources they need to national security.
It seems particularly serious to us that the process of political decision is conditioned – even in such a current serious situation- by party interests or electoral calculations. Speed ??in decision-making and unity of action are crucial in moments like this because only then can an effective strategy that distributes available resources efficiently be developed. The fact that an effective and fast solution could be jeopardized by the division in the decision areas and even by the disloyalty of the officials in charge of ensuring the correct application of the measures adopted is unacceptable.
Finally, we hope that this crisis becomes an opportunity for solidarity. Solidarity between European countries, which must share knowledge, experiences, human and material resources. Solidarity between the different Spanish regions, which have to forget administrative borders and competence issues to make themselves available to the Government without hindrance. Lastly, solidarity between Spaniards, who must do their best to help their neighbors and, be aware at all times of the consequences that their actions may have on others. This is the only way to overcome the serious situation caused by COVID-19 and prepare for those that may come in the future.