Sunday 26 October 2014

Sending the troops in to stop Ebola, might repeat the American caused Spanish flu

Sending the troops in to stop Ebola, might repeat the American caused Spanish flu

The Spanish flu is about as Spanish as an immigrant to America from Mexico. It was called the Spanish flu because the Spanish first reported on it, Spain still had a semi-free press at that stage as compared to the United States in whose regular forces a terrible flu came to be birthed, and spread unabated in a national security climate of war.

'Epidemiological data indicate that pandemic began in the US in March 1918, at a crowded army camp in Fort Riley, Kansas. Subsequently, the transport of hundreds of thousands of infected troops in close physical contact between camps caused influenza to spread quickly even before troops assembled in East Coast ports en route to France. The troops brought the influenza to the trenches of the opposing armies and to other parts of Europe and beyond. ' (Harvard | 'Contagion')

During the war in question, American troops were tightly packed together, and health concerns were largely ignored. It was the troops who spread the flu from one end of the theatre of operations in which they operated to the other. The civilian population also caught the flu. Nothing is quite like an army to spread a disease. The Spanish flu was American, not Spanish. It was spread across countries by American troops and those they came into contact with.

Barack Obama has decided that he wants to send thousands of American troops to Ebola affected countries. Troops traditionally interact very closely and in close and intimate proximity to one another. Putting thousands of people into a dangerous situation, only for them to be expected to leave the situation, could well set up a similar catastrophe.

What would a better approach be? Simple to be quite honest: either sending in doctors, although America does not have any good record with Ebola on their own soil, never mind in Africa. The other option is something called subsidiarity: the money spent on deploying thousands of troops into a foreign nation, could just as easily be spent on funding local efforts to defeat the disease in such countries.

The same goes for any other country that desires to send the troops in to fight a disease. Those troops will eventually have to come home. The contingency available to the nations of the world of using resources already in danger and on the ground is certainly a better option in such a scenario.

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