Covid could drag world back to 1930s, Britain's military chief warns

Covid pandemic could drag world back to the 1930s as countries throw up nationalist barriers, Britain’s military chief General Sir Nick Carter warns

  • The Chief of the Defence Staff fears global tensions and nationalism will rise
  • He said the ensuing economic crisis could lead to global security challenges
  • The 1930s saw the Great Depression, leading to the rise of fascism and WWII 

Britain’s military chief General Sir Nick Carter has warned that Covid-19 could a rise in global nationalism last seen in the years leading up to the Second World War.

The Chief of the Defence Staff said economic crises and ‘nationalist barriers’ will create ‘security challenges’ across the world.

Sir Nick, the UK’s most senior military commander said countries need to cooperate to tackle the virus and its ensuing economic and social problems to fend off potential conflict.

Britain’s military chief General Sir Nick Carter has warned that Covid-19 could a rise in global nationalism last seen in the years leading up to the Second World War

The worldwide Great Depression, which started in 1929, has been linked to the rise of fascism in the 1930s which eventually led to the Second World War. Pictured: men on a hunger march in Britain in 1935

He told The Telegraph: ‘What you generally find with a crisis like this, which becomes an economic crisis, is that it then undermines the stability and security situation as well. 

‘What often follows a very significant economic event is a security challenge.

‘If you look at the 1930s, that started with a significant economic crash – and that acted as a very destabilising feature. There are moments in history when significant economic challenges have led to security challenges because they act as a destabiliser.’ 

The worldwide Great Depression, which started in 1929, has been linked to the rise of fascism in the 1930s which eventually led to the Second World War.

With current tensions increasing over vaccine supply, border controls and mutant strains of the virus, there are fears of a renewed isolationism. 

The Chief of the Defence Staff said economic crises and ‘nationalist barriers’ will create ‘security challenges’ across the world. Pictured: people queue for a soup kitchen in Glasgow this month

Who is Britain’s top defence chief?

General Sir Nick Carter, who was born in Kenya, joined the army aged 18 in 1977 and commissioned from Sandhurst into the Royal Green Jackets, an infantry regiment.

He served in Germany during the Cold War, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Bosnia and Kosovo. 

He toured Iraq and Afghanistan as a brigade commander and was responsible for the Afghan National Army.  

Between deployments, he headed up the Army 2020 project and became Chief of the General Staff in 2014, the professional head of the British Army.

There is also growing resentment against China amid allegations of a cover-up over the origins of the virus, with questions still unanswered about the early days of the pandemic.

Meanwhile Europe has been in the midst of a battle over vaccines, with the EU temporarily invoking Article 16 of the Brexit protocol in an effort to seize jabs destined for the UK. 

Sir Nick said the virus revealed fault lines between countries and within the fabric of society.

The comments are his strongest hint yet that the world could be heading towards conflict.

He has previously warned that escalating competition could trigger the next major war.

The military chief says that the different approaches taken by countries could lead to increased tensions.

There will be a hangover of increased surveillance and curbs on civil liberties in countries that could cause future challenges, he warned.

Many totalitarian regimes have fared better in the pandemic, which could pose questions about how citizens want to be governed, Sir Nick said. 

His cautions come as Boris Johnson prepares to publish the Government’s Integrated Review next month.

The prime minister has vowed to undertake the biggest overhaul of foreign, defence and security police since the Cold War, with an extra £16billion of funding to the Ministry of Defence pledged over the next four years.  

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