Is Obama Wagging the Ebola Dog?
The anti-war president has finally found a way to wag the dog without upsetting his liberal base and war-weary electorate. Despite the beheading of two Americans, establishment of an Islamic caliphate, direct threats to the U.S. homeland, and the destabilization of the entire Middle East, Obama refuses to acknowledge that we are at war with barbaric Islamic jihadists. And he refuses to authorize the requisite boots on the ground.
However, Obama just discovered his pre-midterm election method of wagging the dog -- distracting from his incompetent and dangerous response (or lack thereof) to the real threats to America’s national security while looking tough and proactive. Calling it a “top national security priority,” Obama is sending 3000 military personnel to Liberia to help combat Ebola. According to a Fox report, this is now the Pentagon’s “number one priority.” Whew, I can now sleep at night knowing that I am safe from the biggest threat to the safety and security of Americans.
Perhaps we should be relieved that Obama has finally made a decision -- any decision -- but given how utterly ridiculous, misinformed, and useless this is from a big picture perspective, his strategy reeks more of mind-boggling political calculation than a desire to stem the tide of a worldwide threat. Especially in the face of medical experts who have advised that Ebola does not pose a threat to us.
Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease and Prevention, recently stated, “It is not impossible that there will be some travelers who become sick in this country. But we are confident that a large Ebola outbreak in the United States will not occur."
Dr. Frieden told lawmakers and reporters that while officials were "encouraged" by efforts to explore the treatments, they already had the means to stop the outbreak through "plain and simple" methods. Those include case tracking and public health warnings to avoid contact with people sick with Ebola or the bodies of those who died from the disease.
But in his infinite wisdom and in typical Obama style (Ed Lasky often reminds us that Obama has proclaimed that he is a better speechwriter than his speechwriters, knows more about policies than his policy directors and is a better political director than his political director), the president made a trip to Frieden’s CDC and pronounced, “The reality is that this epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better.”
Cecilia Rokusek, a public health expert with Nova Southeastern University’s Institute for Disaster and Emergency Preparedness in Florida stated, "I see Ebola as a significant threat in the specific regions that it has been identified in, certainly central and west Africa. But in my opinion, it's not an imminent threat for those in the United States.”
And while Ebola is a serious disease requiring serious attention, it is important to put it in context with other health epidemics. From a recent BuzzFeed column:
As of July 27, there were 1,323 documented cases of Ebola in west Africa, including 729 deaths. That makes it roughly as deadly as the SARS outbreak that happened 10 years ago, which killed 774 people. It’s probably worth noting, however, that the SARS victims were spread out over five different continents while Ebola is so far limited to four west African nations….
By far the most deadly disease to spike in recent years was the flu pandemic that began in 2008, which killed 284,000 people worldwide.
In a column titled, “Concerned about Ebola? You’re worrying about the wrong disease,” the Guardian columnist pointed out that 250,000 - 500,000 people will die worldwide this year from influenza and that:
Since the Ebola outbreak began in February, around 300,000 people have died from malaria, while tuberculosis has likely claimed over 600,000 lives. Ebola might have our attention, but it’s not even close to being the biggest problem in Africa right now. Even Lassa fever, which shares many of the terrifying symptoms of Ebola (including bleeding from the eyelids), kills many more than Ebola -- and frequently finds its way to the US.
While some, including AT’s Rick Moran, argue that there is a global economic reason for supporting this military endeavor, it falls on its face when considering the pervasiveness of these other infectious diseases. Furthermore, if potential global economic impact is the appropriate metric when determining where our military should intervene, the U.S. military should be involved in the Russia/Ukraine crisis, China’s aggressions in Asia, the spread of ISIS in the Mideast, the vote on Scotland’s independence, and anything else that could possible affect global markets. Ebola will not have more of a global impact on world economies than any of these other events and it certainly does not pose a national security threat to our homeland. And yet, Obama has finally authorized boots on the ground.
With the WHO authorizing $100 million dollars to address this epidemic and pharmaceutical companies and government health organizations developing treatments on an expedited basis, why is it that 3000 U.S. troops are being sent across the globe at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars that must be diverted from other military endeavors -- most obviously the fight against ISIS? We are at war no matter what Obama, Kerry, Rice, or any other administration official tells us. And we have a commander-in-chief who has decimated our military capabilities, cut back our military budget (defense spending is down 21% since 2010, the first year for which Obama presided over the federal budget), and who fears real combat. So he has decided to reallocate up to possibly $750 million to fight an enemy that poses no threat to our homeland and is insisting that our military take on the burden notwithstanding a FoxNews military source complaining that “we don’t need to be taking planners away from the CT [counter-terrorism] mission, and that is what is going on.”
It is amazing the ease with which Obama can simply ignore true threats to the American people. As Enterovirus D68 spreads across the nation sending hundreds of children to hospitals, perhaps Obama should consider focusing on from where this new disease may have originated. Could it be a coincidence that its onslaught coincides with the massive influx of unhealthy children who entered the U.S. illegally, were transported to cities across the country, and invited into schools with unsuspecting otherwise immunized and healthy American children?
Open borders present a much more dangerous threat to our country than Ebola and not just from a health perspective. We have recently learned of items left at our border including a threatening banner, Korans, and prayer-rugs, and of threats of pipe bombs in Times Square. Despite the numerous impassioned requests from governors, sheriffs, and border patrol agents who are fighting illegal immigration on a daily basis, Obama has refused to shore up our southern border. That is where those 3000 troops should be sent. Alas, that would be a decision by a commander-in-chief who actually cares about the safety of the American people.
Since taking office, Obama has used the various departments under the control of the executive branch as his own personal servants who function as he wishes rather than as intended. Border Patrol agents now bake birthday cakes for illegal immigrant children. Obama ordered NASA (NASA!!) to "to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good…” The IRS is his personal political intimidation army targeting conservative and Jewish groups. It has also been tasked with the enforcement of nationalizing our healthcare industry.
The NSA spies on journalists, HUD sues towns to force affordable housing units be built wherever it determines that the 1% are living, while HHS now enforces Obamacare’s tax mandates the real purpose of which is to redistribute wealth. The DOJ sues towns that refuse to issue building permits for mosques while ignoring its responsibilities to enforce our laws against those who have been implicated in crimes. And now our military is being used to fight a disease infecting people on the other side of the world.
It is no wonder that voters overwhelmingly do not believe that they are safer under Obama’s reign and that he is weak on national security. And wagging the dog by sending 3000 troops to fight Ebola will do little to change that perception.