Is Ebola reaction being subordinated to foreign policy goals?

ebola obama africaOne of the great mysteries of the Ebola crisis has been the administration’s refusal to consider a travel ban from countries with active Ebola outbreaks. This technique is tested and proven. The technical term is “quarantine.” It has been in use since the days of sailing ships when a ship entered port it was inspected for any occurrence of an infectious disease and, if found, had to fly a yellow flag until it was certified clear.  It is why Ellis Island was established.


Right now, people continue to arrive in the United States from affected countries at the rate of over 1,000 per week. One. Thousand. Per. Week. They do so legally and with the cooperation of the United States government. They do so despite (or because) of the fact that our screening depends upon 1) a crude measure of temperature that can be easily evaded by the use of over the counter cold/flu medicines and 2) a questionnaire that depends upon the traveler being truthful. In this case, the very screening method we use guarantee it cannot work. Interestingly, other African nations aren’t under the same delusions as Tom Frieden and the CDC, they have imposed a travel ban and it is working.

Health officials battling the Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 4,500 people in West Africa have managed to limit its spread on the continent to five countries — and two of them appear to have snuffed out the disease.

The developments constitute a modest success in an otherwise bleak situation.

Officials credit tighter border controls, good patient-tracking and other medical practices, and just plain luck with keeping Ebola confined mostly to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea since the outbreak was first identified nearly seven months ago.

Senegal did so well in finding and isolating a man with Ebola who had slipped across the border from Guinea in August that the World Health Organization on Friday will declare the end of the disease in Senegal if no new cases surface.

Nigeria is another success story. It had 20 cases and eight deaths after the virus was brought by a Liberian-American who flew from Liberia to Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital of 21 million people, in July. Nearly 900 people were potentially exposed to the virus by the traveler, who died, and the disease could have wreaked havoc in Africa’s most populous nation.


As we’ve discussed earlier, part of the resistance to a travel ban is rooted deep in the left wing ideology so endemic in the public health community. The same mindset that resisted contact tracing to fight AIDS because the disease was most prevalent among male homosexuals… an oppressed, in their view, minority. Part, though, seems to be driven by Obama’s foreign policy:

A Republican lawmaker claims the real reason the Obama administration is opposing a travel ban for Ebola-stricken African countries is that U.S. officials are concerned about hurting their economies — a dollars-and-cents reason, the lawmaker says, doesn’t make much sense.

[mc_name name=’Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001151′ ], R-Pa., whose House subcommittee held a high-profile hearing Thursday on the Ebola virus, told Fox News that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden is the one who gave him that explanation.

“He explained to me … the concern was that these are fledgling democracies and if we put a travel ban that that may affect their economy and harm them,” Murphy said.

Murphy reiterated the concerns at Thursday’s hearing, charging that public health policies may be “based upon a stated concern with cutting commercial ties with fledgling democracies rather than protecting public health in the United States.”


This is actually quite easy to believe.

We know, with some certainty, that Frieden is not calling the shots on overall Ebola policy. None of this takes away from the way he has totally screwed the pooch on what he is responsible for. (Update: a new Ebola czar has been appointed as I was plodding my way through writing this). We also know that Obama is not averse to breaking a few eggs to make a batch of burned eggs, for instance:

Several hundred Mexicans and at least one US Border Patrol agent have been killed because of a scheme to create violence on the US-Mexico border as a pretense for a new regime of gun control laws.

A brutal civil war was encouraged in Syria in order to prove the efficacy of cheaply overthowing various dictators.

Obama has invested heavily in assisting Africa, trade and economic development are part of that. Is it unreasonable to think he could decide that a few dozen or few hundred American dead from Ebola were a small price to pay for preserving national economies in West Africa?



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