The War On Ebola

Clint Hinote finds it “striking… how similar this struggle [against Ebola] is to counterinsurgency operations”:

Counterinsurgencies are long-term struggles. Systemic problems usually drive the creation of the insurgency in the first place, and until these underlying issues are addressed, the insurgency will simmer, sometimes mutating and reappearing later. The best counterinsurgency efforts address the root causes of the insurgency over time.

This fight against Ebola must also be a long-term effort, especially among the health care institutions within the affected countries. These have been decimated, and they must be rebuilt with the expertise and capacity to provide an acceptable level of care for the population. If this does not happen, the disease will return. There is a real fear among health experts that the disease will become endemic, existing in perpetuity among humans, mutating and spreading within the vulnerable population. If this tragic development is to be prevented, a long-term commitment to building health care infrastructure and institutions will be needed.

Rachel Kleinfeld argues that “ISIS and Ebola have the same root cause: failed governance”:

Liberia and Sierra Leone have been heralded in the West as success stories, countries that rebounded from devastating civil wars to rebuild their states. Liberia, particularly, has been showered with World Bank and other donor money thanks to its widely trusted president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. But under her, and in Sierra Leone, lies a broadly rotten apparatus of cronyism and patronage that has resulted in favoritism in public services and general government incapacity. Locals in remote villages see this, even if Western donors at Davos and the Clinton Global Initiative do not. And therein lies the formers’ distrust for their governments, which can now be measured in the spread of disease.

The West similarly thought it could buy and counsel a functional Iraqi military. Billions of U.S. dollars and years of our military troops’ lives were poured into twinning, training, providing equipment and mentoring Iraqi troops. But no amount of equipment and tactical training could build a military with the esprit de corps to fight when the country’s leadership marginalizes and betrays an entire portion of the population. The individuals could be well-trained, but the institution itself was rotten.

However, Adam Taylor suggests that the Texas Ebola case might help African patients:

Americans already seem well aware that helping other nations with their health problems can help Americans — a 2013 Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 68 percent of respondents felt that spending money on improving health care in developing countries would help protect Americans from infectious diseases such as SARS, bird flu and swine flu.

However, it was only two weeks ago that the United States announced it would be sending 3,000 troops to West Africa to help fight Ebola. It was a big move, expected to cost $750 million in the next four months, but it came only after criticism from African leaders at what they saw was a delay in the mobilization of the United States’ considerable resources. Remember, for countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, this Ebola outbreak has been a problem since December, and they have struggled to contain it on their own.