B2020欧洲杯足球即时比分ehind the scenes in Whitehall, ministers and officials routinely wargame scenarios that most of us prefer not to think about. Marauding firearms attacks, 9/11-style plane hijacks, and global pandemics are just some of the crises for which the exercises are designed to prepare ministers and officials.
The details, when they leak, can sound scary. But the fact that governments test decisions like the distribution of scarce drugs and have plans for makeshift morgues should be reassuring, rather than a cause for alarm. The details of particular exercises depend on the hypothetical scenario being tested – which is often the worst imaginable – and mean little for how a real terror attack might play out, or how coronavirus will spread.
The exercises do mean, however, that ministers and officials – including the agencies responsible for operations on the ground – are more likely to be ready when an emergency comes. And, of course, experience teaches us that emergencies happen. Our circumstances change, and the nature of the dangers we face evolves, but life is inevitably and inherently about coping with risk. Somehow, this is something we have forgotten.
When the Cold War ended, the danger of nuclear strikes appeared to fade. The risk of ethnic, ideological or interests-driven conflict between states also seemed to diminish. The common assumption was that liberal democracy had triumphed, the nations and peoples of the world would grow more alike, and we were living in a peaceful “new world order”. Science, reason and the market would ensure we would grow healthier and more prosperous.
Yet with the rise of China, a revanchist Russia, rogue states like Iran and North Korea, and aggressive non-state organisations like al-Qaeda and Isil, this complacency has already proved misplaced.
And we face new dangers, too. As our lives and economies become more dependent on digital technologies, we are increasingly reliant on the resilience and security of the systems – and the ethics, goodwill and cooperation of their owners 2020欧洲杯足球即时比分– that provide them.
The interconnected nature of the world economy means we are more exposed than ever to decisions made by foreign governments, financiers and business leaders. When Chinese growth falters, for example, the knock-on effects for the world economy will be severe.
And there are other risks associated with globalisation. As the European migration crisis showed, in the modern world huge movements of people are possible. The decisions made by foreign leaders – like Angela Merkel in 2015, or Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who last week opened Turkey’s border with Greece2020欧洲杯足球即时比分 – can cause grave consequences for many countries other than their own.
As coronavirus is proving, the scale of international travel means viruses can be difficult to contain. Of course, Covid-19 appears to be especially contagious, and it was obvious from an early stage that there was little chance of containing it in Wuhan or even China. But its spread is likely to be even faster, thanks to Beijing’s initial response, and the incompetence and secrecy of states such as Iran.
Then there is climate change. It is doubtful that global carbon emissions can be reduced quickly enough and at sufficient scale to prevent our climate changing, whatever Britain decides to do unilaterally. Heathrow might not be allowed one extra runway, but India and China are each planning to build hundreds of new airports in the next 10 years. And their overall emissions – which dwarf ours – will go on rising. As our climate changes and extreme weather becomes more common, we need to become better prepared to handle sudden events such as floods and storms as well as the longer-term change in our environment.
So just as the Government prepares for what it calls “civil contingencies”, it needs to get better at preparing the public for the inevitability of unfortunate events. It needs to work out what role it can play in leading improvements in international institutions and cooperation. And it needs to assess whether its policies strike the right balance between prevention and preparation.
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分Ministers were sensible, for example, to avoid overreacting to the initial spread of coronavirus. If they had prematurely ordered schools to shut down, there would have been an immediate and unnecessary blow to the economy as parents stayed at home to look after their children. But the experience of Covid-19 so far has already exposed important questions.
T2020欧洲杯足球即时比分he first stage of the Department of Health’s strategy is “containment”, yet direct flights from China to Britain were allowed to continue at the height of the contagion. Government travel advice for British nationals heading to affected regions has on occasion been contradictory and confusing.
N2020欧洲杯足球即时比分obody should expect the NHS constantly to operate at over-capacity for fear of a sudden surge in patients, but the Nuffield Trust has pointed out that there is “little fuel in the tank” should patient numbers spike. Ministers need to find ways of scaling up and down capacity according to the severity of a health crisis.
British researchers are playing their part in the global effort to find a coronavirus vaccine, but Britain has no vaccine manufacturing plants. If and when a vaccine is discovered, experts have warned that we will need to wait in the queue to get it.
As a country that prides itself on its adherence to international free trade, the UK has long been content for its companies to take their place in transnational supply chains. But with coronavirus, as with our new 5G telecommunications system – which ministers insist we can only build with the help of the Chinese company, Huawei – we may come to rue the lack of a national, or at least Western, capability to produce what we need. Countries have strategic necessities that can trump the purity of the market.
This is just one lesson we need to learn if we want to improve our resilience. Global interdependency brings great advantages but new risks. We must get ourselves accustomed to living with these risks and, from new international institutions to reserved national capabilities, we have to do more to prevent and protect ourselves from harm.