With the worst Ebola outbreak in history having now infected almost 5,000 people and killed nearly half, immediate relief efforts are desperately needed. Though the crisis has been escalating exponentially in the past several weeks — half of the infections and deaths occurred in the past 21 days, according to Bruce Aylward, an assistant director general of the World Health Organization — the United States has not committed much to the effort until now.
On Tuesday, President Obama pledged 3,000 American troops to help West Africa. According to Reuters, “his plan calls for sending the troops, including engineers and medical personnel, to build 17 treatment centers with 100 beds each, train thousands of healthcare workers and establish a military control center for coordination of the relief effort.”
We The Threefold Advocate commend the United States for stepping up to help these desperate people as Ebola spreads, but we question the use of soldiers as the answer. The fight against Ebola is not fought with guns or military strategies, but with medical personnel, sanitary facilities and increased awareness of the virus.
Sending soldiers into a region devastated by disease only furthers the idea that the United States is a fearsome country ready to strike. While the situation with ISIS may call for military force, the Department of Defense is not the organization to deal with a humanitarian crisis.
Though President Obama stated that the Ebola outbreak was a “global threat” that could have “profound economic, political and security implications for all of us,” he also said the chances of an outbreak in the U.S. are extremely low.
President Obama neglected to acknowledge the horrific reality that the people of Sierra Leone, Liberia and the other affected countries are facing. By shifting the focus off of those dying and onto the (negligible) possibility of an American security threat, President Obama’s promise of aid seems self-serving and insufficient. After all, the United Nations has declared that $1 billion is needed to contain the virus, and only about one-third of that has been raised.
While the United States’ efforts may look good, we The Threefold Advocate insist that more humanitarian aid be sent to West Africa in the form of doctors, supplies and other workers instead of soldiers, and that the U.S. truly step up and empathize with those suffering instead of being self-interested.