UN Chief Calls for an End to War

March 27th, 2020 - by Eoin Higgins / Common Dreams & Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali / Reuters

UN Chief Calls for an End to War

(March 26, 2020) — “UN Chief Calls for an End to War.” But killer viruses pay no heed to the Empire.   

“So now it’s top secret! That coronavirus is hitting the US military, excerpt: 

“Reuters has reported that thousands of US military personnel are in quarantine or in self-isolation in Europe and the Middle East due to either exposure to someone infected or recent travel to high-risk locations.”

Although anyone with a brain would have long wondered how those on the Navy Carriers and other military ships (which are many, many times more cramped and dirty than luxury cruise lines) could manage to not succumb to the virus. (Sorry to be flippant but how can these egomaniac warhawks care less about a worldwide contagion that is toppling the world’s economy and has the medical profession practicing triage than their bragging rights about their ability to kill foreigners?)” — Coleen Rowley

As ‘Fury of Virus Illustrates Folly of War,’ UN Chief Calls for Global Ceasefire

“End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world.”United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres

Eoin Higgins / Common Dreams

(March 24, 2020) — United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday called on the countries of Earth to declare an immediate ceasefire and join together to battle the coronavirus pandemic that is ravaging people and communities across the planet.

“The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war,” said Guterres. “That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world.  It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”

“We welcome this call by António Guterres,” the global anti-poverty group Concern said on Twitter. “Coronavirus poses an enormous threat to the the 71 million people across the globe who have been displaced by violence and a ceasefire of all arms must take place to ensure that they can be reached with life-saving aid.”

Guterres said he hoped action taken to stop conflict could help refugees, women, children, and other marginalized communities in warzones get the help they need to survive—including better delivery of humanitarian and medical aid.

“End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world,” said Guterres.  “It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now. That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.”

Progressives welcomed the declaration. 

“UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ call for a global ceasefire prioritizes people over profit, healthcare over warfare, and solidarity over global isolation,” tweeted CodePink. “Divest from war.”

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Exclusive: As Coronavirus Spreads, US Military to Withhold Infection Data

Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali / MSN News & Reuters

WASHINGTON (March 24, 2020) —The US military has decided it will stop providing some of the more granular data about coronavirus infections within its ranks out of concern that the information might be used by adversaries as the virus spreads.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper outlined the plan in an interview with Reuters, saying that he wanted the military to keep providing broader data about infections in the armed forces, which rose by 30 percent to 227 cases on Wednesday.

Bing COVID-19 tracker: Latest numbers by country and state 

But Esper, a former Army secretary, said he wanted some of the more mission-specific information to be withheld to prevent compromising operational security.

“What we want to do is give you aggregated numbers. But we’re not going to disaggregate numbers because it could reveal information about where we may be affected at a higher rate than maybe some other places,” Esper said, without disclosing precisely what information would be withheld or when the plan would be implemented.

Such a decision could upend expectations about the kind of disclosure about coronavirus fallout the public can expect from the military, which has a small number of infections relative to an overall forces of well over 1 million active duty troops.

Beyond daily updates on infections across the armed forces, the US military has been telling the public for weeks about the locations of individual cases, from on a warship to inside the Pentagon, and at overseas commands throughout the world. 

Esper noted that it was one thing to disclose the case of the first US soldier infected with coronavirus, which US forces in South Korea did last month. But he wanted to guard against creating the expectation of regular updates everywhere. 

“I’m not going to get into a habit where we start providing numbers across all the commands and we come to a point six, seven weeks from now where we have some concerns in some locations and reveal information that could put people at risk,” he said. 

Esper said operational security was particularly important in places overseas where the United States is combating adversaries, noting the fight against al-Shabaab in East Africa as well as Islamic State militants in Syria or Afghanistan.

Still, he did not expect those missions to be disrupted by the coronavirus, saying “we have more than enough capability.”

“The rate of infection and its impact is not hitting us at the levels that we have any concerns about right now,” he said.

(Photo: The National Interest)


But Esper’s remarks appear to underscore US military concerns about the potential trajectory of the virus over the coming months — both at home and abroad.

There has been a sharp increase in coronavirus cases among troops inside the United States, which officials tell Reuters have overtaken the number of cases among forces overseas in key branches of military.

The Air Force told Reuters that the United States was home to about 85 percent of its confirmed coronavirus cases among its personnel as of Wednesday. The Navy said roughly 90 percent of its cases were in the United States. 

The Army declined to say how many of its personnel who tested positive were at home or overseas. 

Esper did not confirm whether the number of cases was higher in the United States or abroad but noted that commanders overseas have greater ability to impose restrictions on troops and their families.

“You have far, far, far greater control of your servicemembers when you’re deployed abroad, even when you’re stationed abroad, than you do back in the United States,” he said.

Reuters has reported that thousands of US military personnel are in quarantine or in self-isolation in Europe and the Middle East due to either exposure to someone infected or recent travel to high-risk locations. 

But the precise number worldwide has not been disclosed and some commands have declined to offer figures, including the US military’s Southern Command.

A spokesman at the US Africa Command, Air Force Colonel Christopher Karns, said his command would publicly report confirmed cases of infection but was not looking “to advertise” the number of people under quarantine.

“If advertised, numbers can be used by adversaries to their advantage,” Karns said in a statement.

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