DoD shows its strength, mobilizing to protect us from Ebola (a sad story about America)

Summary: Conservatives’ decades-long efforts to delegitimize and shrink the US government have had many successes, such as decreasing public confidence in the Republic’s institutions (except the military) and decaying infrastructure (except for the military). Sadly we are blind to this slow relentless attack on the Republic, even when we see the effects on this news. Like today.

Preußischer_Adler_(1871-1914)
The Prussian Eagle, a model for our future?

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President Obama wants an aggressive capability to respond to future Ebola cases in America. It’s probably unnecessary, now that the health care system has been alerted and mobilized, but the intensifying fear-mongering by Republicans (e.g., “If you want to live, ignore the CDC“),  combined with calls for him to take bold actions, forces his hand. Can he call upon the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, especially its Centers for Disease Control?

Apparently not. In the New America the only organization with the resources for large-scale action is the military. The CDC’s 2014 budget of $6.9B is slightly greater then DoD’s PR and community relations spending, estimated at $5B.

See the news in Barbara Starr’s broadcast on CNN. Here’s CNN’s follow-up story:

The U.S. military is forming a 30-person “quick-strike team” equipped to provide direct treatment to Ebola patients inside the United States, a Defense Department official told CNN’s Barbara Starr on Sunday. A Pentagon spokesman later confirmed portions of the official’s information.

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The team will be under orders to deploy within 72 hours at any time over the next month, the official said. The Department of Health and Human Services requested the military team, and the Pentagon has given verbal approval, the official said. The team will include five doctors, 20 nurses and five trainers, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.

The Pentagon has been working to determine what assistance it could offer the civilian health care sector following a White House meeting last week during which President Barack Obama said he wanted a more aggressive response, according to two Defense officials.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered chief of the Northern Command, Gen. Chuck Jacoby, “to prepare and train a 30-person expeditionary medical support team that could, if required, provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals in the United States,” Kirby said. Jacoby is already working with the military on the joint team, Kirby said, and once formed, it will head to Fort Sam Houston in Texas for up to seven days of training in infection control and personal protective equipment. The training, provided by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, will begin “within the next week or so,” Kirby said. The team will remain in “prepare-to-deploy” status for 30 days, he said. It will be able to respond anywhere in the U.S. if “deemed prudent by our public health professionals,” he said.

This is a sad admission for a developed nation (but quite typical of a Third World nation).  It’s another data point showing the militarization of America.  Our foreign policy is largely set and implemented by the military, whose resources dwarf those of the State Department (e.g., there are more members of military bands than Foreign Service Officers). Our police are equipped and trained with military gear. Much of our space program has become a DoD project. And our R&D is increasingly run by DoD (DARPA, the NSA, the CIA, and the military).

Other posts about Ebola

  1. What you need to know about Ebola. Debunking the myths.
  2. An epidemic afflicting America: fear about Ebola. Avoid the carriers. Facts are the antidote.
  3. While Americans panic at shadows, Ebola strikes hard at Africa
  4. Lessons from Ebola. Let’s hope we learn.
  5. DoD shows its strength, mobilizing to protect us from Ebola (a sad story about America).
  6. We awake from fears of an Ebola pandemic in America. Now let’s ask who’s responsible…, 21 October 2014
  7. Good news about Ebola and its terrifying mortality rate, 5 November 2014

America seen as we are, on TV

This is America’s government in action, in peace and war, foreign and domestic:

CNN on Pentagon "quick response teams"

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35 thoughts on “DoD shows its strength, mobilizing to protect us from Ebola (a sad story about America)

  1. The obsession with having the Pentagon involved in everything is indeed odd, for reasons generally consistent with what FM has stated. However, more pressing is whether this “quick strike team” would be effective in addressing the disease. According to Scientific American Nigeria has had some success. In particular, it states:

    “Authors of a paper published October 9 in Eurosurveillance attribute Nigeria’s success in “avoiding a far worse scenario” to its “quick and forceful” response. The authors point to three key elements in the country’s attack:

    1. Fast and thorough tracing of all potential contacts
    2. Ongoing monitoring of all of these contacts
    3. Rapid isolation of potentially infectious contacts

    The swift battle was won not only with vigilant disinfecting, port-of-entry screening and rapid isolation but also with boot leather and lots and lots of in-person follow-up visits, completing 18,500 of them to find any new cases of Ebola among a total of 989 identified contacts.”

    The article states the following are the lessons for the United States:

    “The U.S. outbreak so far has many similarities to the one in Nigeria but “countries such as the U.S. have some lessons to learn,” Fasina says. “Infectious disease is the same everywhere but the management may differ,” leading to vastly different outcomes.

    Schaffner agrees that the U.S. response has not been perfect. “There isn’t any doubt that we’ve stumbled both on the clinical side, with misdiagnoses and insufficient training and supervision in the hospital, and on the public health side,” allowing and infected nurse to fly commercially while she was under surveillance, he says. “Now that we’ve stumbled we shouldn’t do it again.”

    U.S. government agencies seem to be learning. The CDC has beefed up its safety protocols for health care workers dealing with infectious patients and contact monitoring is exercised more strenuously. WHO, for example, recommends that even health care workers and cleaning staff who have used personal protective equipment and followed all the safety rules when dealing with an Ebola patient be considered “close contacts” and monitored for 21 days. This stands in contrast to the untrained health care workers in Dallas who treated the U.S. index patient (in what likely turned out to be less-than-optimal protective equipment) and were initially asked simply to self-monitor.”

    Note that Nigeria is quite a large country, both in terms of population and territory. So issues relating to scale are far less different between it and the United States than perhaps one might think. The Scientific American article did not cite the budget Nigeria has devoted to its response, but I would suppose it would be something the CDC could handle.

    It is not clear how the Pentagon’s quick strike team would fit within this sort of framework.

    As for the broader question of the militarization of society, it is the actual ability to solve peoples’ problems that is the ultimate source of political power – even in a troop happy society like the contemporary United States.

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    1. Duncan,

      The Sci America article states the consensus narrative. However, I think it is a bit daft. My guess is that the eventual write-up by historians will agree with me.

      The response of the Dallas hospital was less than we could hope for, especially as we get our standards from watch TV. In reality, a random hospital of the 5,000 in America was unlikely to be run by TV docters, and likely to stumble when confronted with a disease relatively new to this land.

      The CDC mobilized too slowly, anf their protocols were too lax (e.g., not requiring washing between each step of taking off protective gear; no mandatory quarantine). But I doubt these will be seen as serious by historians as they’re described now by the crowds eager to denonce and villify (that’s what mobs do, because it’s safe fun).6

      My guess is that these lapses resulted in two health care workers infected — but there will be no more — now that career self-preservation and unlimited funding have engaged, so wild over-reaction is the new rule.

      If so, historians will probably give the CDC an “average” grade, and focus on the dysfunctional hysperial — fed by conservatives’ fear-mongering for political gain — which they’ll see as serious ills undermining the Republic. They’ll know how the story ends, allowing them to put these events in their true context.

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    2. My purpose in posting this comment was not so much to grade the CDC or the Dallas hospital as to provide an apparently credible set of standards that should be implemented. The important point appears to be that the DOD quick strike team appears to be security theater.

      IMHO, the real problem, as mentioned as part of the article, is that countries such as Liberia and Sierra Leone have not and due to lack of resources probably cannot implement measures such as Nigeria has. The Economist has an article describing the exponential growth rate of the epidemic. http://www.economist.com/news/international/21625813-ebola-epidemic-west-africa-poses-catastrophic-threat-region-and-could-yet

      “WHO fears it could see between 5,000 and 10,000 new cases reported a week by the beginning of December; that is, as many cases each week as have been seen in the entire outbreak up to this point. This is the terrifying thing about exponential growth as applied to disease: what is happening now, and what happens next, is always as bad as the sum of everything that has happened to date.

      Exponential growth cannot continue indefinitely; there are always barriers. In the previous 20 major outbreaks of the disease since its discovery in 1976, all of which took place in and around the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the initial rapid spread quickly subsided. In the current outbreak, though, the limits have been pushed much further back; it has already claimed more victims than all the previous outbreaks put together.”

      Note also that there are significant illegal immigrant flows from West Africa into Europe. This is bound to spread the disease, first to Europe and ultimately to us. Here’s an article, including a map, discussing these population flows:

      http://www.limitstogrowth.org/articles/2014/04/13/are-millions-of-africans-about-to-swarm-into-a-more-open-europe/

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    3. Duncan,

      I think you are, like most of the commenters here, passing on wild guesses from non-experts. More than not helpful, you are contributing to the emerging panic.

      “are significant illegal immigrant flows from West Africa into Europe. This is bound to spread the disease, first to Europe and ultimately to us.”

      I doubt you are an epidemiologist, or even an MD. Please cite some form of expert support for this.

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    4. “Note also that there are significant illegal immigrant flows from West Africa into Europe. This is bound to spread the disease, first to Europe and ultimately to us.”

      This is highly improbable.

      Africans emigrating to Europe illegally follow circuitous and very long-winded terrestrial routes from their home to regions bordering the Mediterranean or the North-Western Atlantic, from which European territories (e.g. the Canary Islands, the island of Lampedusa, etc) can be reached by boat.

      Their journey takes months, and often years. Far too long for anybody infected with Ebola to even have a chance of arriving in Europe alive.

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    5. Guest,

      Thank you for the additional information on this!

      Also, modern health cate methods make an epidemic unliklely for a disease with low communicability as Ebola. Unfortunately, much of Africa kacks a midern health care system.

      Note, however, that Africa survived AIDS far better then expected by those relying on the more extreme forecasts.

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    6. Well, I realize I stated a nonsense. Illegal African immigrants do not go for the “North-Western Atlantic”, but for the North-Western African coast of the Atlantic (i.e. Morocco and Mauritania).

      I should re-read twice before posting.

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    7. “Note also that there are significant illegal immigrant flows from West Africa into Europe. This is bound to spread the disease, first to Europe and ultimately to us.”

      This combines three of Americans’ greatest and most irrational fears all into one horrifyingly sensational scenario:
      1. Disease
      2. Illegal immigrants
      3. Black people

      If word gets out that any of these illegally immigrating diseased black people are also Muslims, then I’m sure we can expect numerous demands from accross the nation for massive drone bombing campaigns of indefinite goal or duration, causing death and destruction indiscriminately throughout the entire African continent.

      Then of course we’ll become surprised and indignant when, a decade hence, we find out that the African peoples don’t like us very much…

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    8. “Their journey takes months, and often years. Far too long for anybody infected with Ebola to even have a chance of arriving in Europe alive.”

      Their journey can take months. It can also take days.
      http://www.altaiconsulting.com/mixedmigrationlibya/Altai_Consulting-UNHCR-Mixed_Migration_Libya.pdf

      While, they are traveling, they are in highly unsanitary conditions: During which time they intermingle with others.
      http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/12/03/dangerous-journey-senegal-spain

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    9. Unfortunately, Todd, most of these people do happen to be Muslims.

      That’s quite an issue in Europe; not much of one over here.

      I have often written about my great sympathy for Western Africans and Muslims. Which does not alter the facts. Nor do you cite any.

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    10. Duncan,

      “Note also that there are significant illegal immigrant flows from West Africa into Europe. This is bound to spread the disease, first to Europe and ultimately to us. ”

      Since you appear to be just making that up, we need not take it seriously. It’s just another bit of ignorant hysteria about Ebola.

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    11. “Their journey can take months. It can also take days.”

      The document you linked to is interesting, and confirms what I said. It indicates the total journey duration for a series of routes (maps on pages 38 and 40) to Libya (a frequent launchpad to reach Lampedusa and Malta).

      From Somaliland: “total duration: approx. 2 months”.
      From Senegal: “total duration: approx. 2.5 months”.

      Many migrants take much longer because they are detained, deported, or remain in a country to earn money for the next leg of the journey, or because war makes some regions impassable for a stretch.

      Incubation of ebola virus is 2-21 days. Death occurs 6-16 days afterwards. Hence, just as I stated, it is highly unlikely that infected illegal migrants ever reach the shores of Europe; they would die en route.

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    12. I just wonder how you read the papers you refer to. The last one states the following:

      “The refugee centre coordinator in Bolzano, in northern Italy, stated: “… the migrants coming from nations considered ‘at-risk’ left their countries long before the epidemic outbreak. Ebola has a 20-day incubation period. The refugees [who recently] arrived in Bolzano [had] been travelling for a much longer period of time before arriving.”

      “This is the real story. But, the internet hasn’t taken such a rational approach. Conspiracy theory Italian websites have started to suggest that Italy is now at the mercy of plague-spreading illegal aliens, the government intentionally keeping quiet to avoid widespread panic.”

      As for the issue becoming “an active political issue in Europe”, this is true, but it does not mean that there is a significant risk of contamination spreading from ebola-infected illegal immigrants, as you claim.

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    13. Guest,

      You raise an interesting question: what might be the eventual effects of this fear-mongering?

      In America truth is tribal, so there are no consequences for false predictions so long as they conform to tribal triths. Many predictions of climate doom made 16 years ago have failed, as have predictions of inflation and hyperinflation from QE. With no loss of confidence among the faithful of Left and Right, respectively.

      So I expect no consequence from conservatives’ fear-mongering if they prove false. But what about in Europe?

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    14. Yes I did read that. And I provided a link of full information. Something you have not done.

      It appears that the length of Ebola incubation is an important talking point for those on the pro-immigrant side of this debate.

      For the third time, I repeat: time will tell. Do you have a problem with that?

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    15. Thomas, I am a great fan of The Rise of the Praetorian Class (the article and not the rise itself.) and have cited it while commenting on this blog.

      When I say something is “a bit odd,” it is a euphemism for weird or unnatural.

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    16. FM: Your characterization of my posts as “fear mongering” are insulting and false.

      My reference to West African immigration to Europe was but the final paragraph of a response pointing out potential flaws in the Scientific American article, an article with which you stated was “a bit daft.”

      I have nothing further to say to you other than to suggest you demonstrate some competence in this topic by posting references.

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    17. Duncan,

      (1) I asked you for supporting evidence to your assertion about Ebola coming to the US via Europe. You asking me for “references” is illogical. It’s your assertion, for you to prove.

      (2) In the abscence of supporting evidence, your assertion is prima facie “fear mongering”.

      (3) That you consider rebuttals to your statements to be “insulting” is sad. It’s a common response in America, where “freedom of speech” is often considered to be freedom from rebuttal.

      (4) Given the above, that you have “nothing further to say” is probably for the best.

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    18. “And I provided a link of full information.”

      All links you provided confirm my point: travel times at least twice as long as the total period of incubation+sickness till death, no cases of Ebola amongst African migrants to Europe, etc.

      “It appears that the length of Ebola incubation is an important talking point for those on the pro-immigrant side of this debate.”

      It has nothing to do with a pro-immigration debate.

      There have been several outbreaks of seriously contagious and deadly diseases with comparable incubation periods in the recent past: MERS, SARS, bacterial meningitis, and now Ebola.

      Most of those spread far from the center of the outbreak.

      They spread because of persons travelling _legally_ (tourists, businessmen, NGO workers), not because of illegal migrants. They spread via fast airplane traffic, not via the slow terrestrial and maritime routes used by asylum seekers and migrants. This is why controlling, and even curtailing air routes to and from the regions affected by Ebola makes sense.

      A much emphasized point is how fast Ebola kills its victims. Far too rapidly for the hapless African migrants wending their way through deserts and seas towards Europe. You should be more worried about the diseases with very long incubation periods they might carry — such as super-resistant forms of tuberculosis.

      “For the third time, I repeat: time will tell. Do you have a problem with that?”

      Then why raise unsubstantiated, alarming hypotheses that cannot be reconciled with what we know about the disease, population movements, and the history of other contagious outbreaks?

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    19. Guest,

      “Then why raise unsubstantiated, alarming hypotheses that cannot be reconciled with what we know about the disease, population movements, and the history of other contagious outbreaks?”

      You raise points about potential exposure of Europe to Ebola-carrying illegal immigrants from Africa — none of which I had thought of (the potential exposure seemed logical to me).

      The part of Duncan’s theory that seemed unsupported, imo, was “This is bound to spread the disease … ultimately to us” part. That seems a bridge too far for Ebola to travel, unless I see some expert analysis in support of the theory.

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    20. Re: “You raise points about potential exposure of Europe to Ebola-carrying illegal immigrants from Africa — none of which I had thought of (the potential exposure seemed logical to me).”

      To the contrary, this is precisely what I have been saying expressly, explicitly, repeatedly above. There is no way you could have read what I was saying without dealing with this issue.

      “Guest” ( whoever he is ) has failed to provide a single link or supply any evidence whatsoever in support of his position. He uses mufti-syllabic words in complex sentences. His failure to provide evidence can be explained by the lack of good information about illegal immigration from Africa to Europe. Suffice it to say ( and I have above said ) 1) it can be done in days and 2) infections can leapfrog from one person to another. Our anonymous “Guest” has not addressed these obvious points, relying instead upon his verbiage.

      If this be “fear mongering,” let us make the most of it.

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    21. I expressly and repeatedly pointed to your statement that Ebola would inevitably spread to America from immigrants traveling through Europe. That’s absurd.

      You have not provided a single supporting citation. Hence it is just something you made up.

      It is as silly as describing the CDC director’s statement — pointing out that the U.S. Border is not a Maginot Wall — as “fear mongering”.

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    22. Dc kinder,

      Why is this fear mongering? Did you believe otherwise? Does this arouse fear in you, and if so — why?

      The message of experts has been that US health care systems can prevent an epidemic in the US, not that we remain safe as in Heaven.

      For comparison, we have annual flu epidemics which kill thousands every year. With a population of 330 million, those don’t have people wetting their pants when they hear a sneeze.

      We have a dozen cases of plague every year in America, a more realistic scale comparison. They are located, quarantined, and treated. Life goes on.

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  2. Duncan Kinder remarks: “The obsession with having the Pentagon involved in everything is indeed odd, for reasons generally consistent with what FM has stated.”

    No, the American obsession with having the Pentagon involved in everything is perfectly obvious and completely predictable — since America has turned into a garrison state operating under undeclared martial law after 9/11. The soft coup by the American military/police/prison/intelligence community wrested control of America from civilians and put the real power in the hands of the military, the police, and the spooks. Today America lives in a Praetorian culture: people in any other group in America can only perform their daily routine with the explicity permission of the Praetorian class.

    The Praetorian Class includes members of the Armed Services, federal, state and local law enforcement personnel as well as numerous militarized officials including agents from the DEA, Immigrations, Customs Enforcement, Air Marshals, US Marshals, and more. It also includes, although to a lesser extent, various stage actors in the expanding security theater such as TSA personnel. The main mission of the Praetorian Class is to keep the order of the day. This requires displaying an intimidating presence in their interactions with the Economic Class.

    As the Praetorian Class ascends, the clear, albeit unstated, message that emerges is that actions and events in the Economic Class only occur with its tacit consent. Whether driving on roads, traveling in the air, visiting public land, walking down the street or even living in your own home, every action you take is predicated on its permission. By preconditioning the populace to enforcement of its edicts, most of which are completely arbitrary, the Praetorian Class sets itself up for a high degree of autonomy in its actions. This is confirmed by the fact that consequences for malfeasance within the Praetorian Class are almost never observed…

    Source: “The Rise of the Praetorian Class.”

    This is what you would expect in a society whose government languishes under the military rule of an invading army. And ever since 9/11, this is effectively what America has become: a captive population under military rule. As witness, for example, the spectacle of the no-fly zone of Ferguson Missouri, or the lockdown with empty streets full of tanks and AR-15-toting soldiers in the aftermath of the pressure cooker that blew up in Boston.

    In a society that exists in a state of undeclared martial law, it’s entirely natural and wholly to be expected that the culture will develop an “obsession with having the Pentagon involved in everything.” Why is anyone surprised about this? Haven’t you people been paying attention for the last 13 years?

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    1. By the way: while the USA announces that thousands of soldiers will be mobilized to “fight” the Ebola virus in Africa, Cuba is already sending hundreds of _medical_ personnel there to help affected African countries:

      http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/10/20/cuba-ebola-who-cdcus.html

      Truly, the gesticulations by the US government regarding Ebola increasingly appear to be an insult to intelligence — first and foremost the intelligence of the Africans in the midst of the outbreak.

      Like

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