"Isn't the U.S. Helping Now?"

October 13, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


The Ebola outbreak in West Africa started in late December 2013 and was first identified in March 2014. People from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and other organizations have been in Liberia since March. Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) was one of the few organizations treating people diagnosed with Ebola, and they repeatedly notified the U.S., the United Nations (UN), and others that they needed help to contain it.

"Starting at March 31st, Doctors Without Borders said the hospitals in Guinea and in Liberia are overwhelmed," said Dr. Atul Gawande,"and they were crying for help. As late as September 2nd, they were telling the UN and others that the help being provided is a shambles, that this is a disease that is doubling in the number of cases every three weeks. And our response was pathetic. We simply mounted no substantial response." (Democracy Now! October 7)

By mid-September, the U.S. had sent some 100 health officials and committed a pitiful $175 million in aid. (The global total aid to Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, the three West African countries hardest hit by Ebola, as of the end of September was around $1 billion.)1

  • Every hour the U.S. spends over $312,000 on military action against ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria)—to date, $860 million; so in six hours the U.S. spends more fighting ISIS than it has in nine months fighting Ebola.
  • The Obama administration just announced plans to spend an estimated $355 billion over the next decade (and billions more after) upgrading the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal.
  • The U.S. has spent a total of $753 billion to invade and occupy Afghanistan for 13 years.

Obama and the U.S. ruling class are only concerned now—and crying crocodile tears—because they fear the Ebola epidemic could hurt their imperialist interests and empire: first, by destabilizing areas in Africa that are economically, politically, and militarily important to their empire; and second, because they fear it might spread to the U.S.

But even so, what has the U.S. actually done?

Did Obama announce an emergency mobilization of thousands of doctors, nurses, and medical crews to go to the area to treat and care for the sick?

The immediate transport of hundreds of portable hospitals and labs to test for Ebola, or helicopters, trucks, and ambulances to transport infected people to treatment centers?

Medication to treat the sick and increase their chances of survival?

No. Some parts of the U.S. plan may eventually provide some help—after tens of thousands more people have been infected and die!

But what has been done is the U.S. sending 3,000 to 4,000 troops—who may be doing some health care-related activities, but are mainly there to defend U.S. imperial interests!2 (Revolution/revcom.us will be digging into this in future coverage.)

Meanwhile, a climate of ugly chauvinism and "only American lives matter" is being fostered in the U.S. With the spread of the disease, now the big furor is "keep it out of my backyard!!" It's like—"these poor countries are threatening us—it's intolerable."

No, what's intolerable is how the system of imperialism has devastated, enslaved, and plundered Africa (and other regions)—and left them to suffer horrendously—until it happens to suit their interests to lift a finger.

1. Sources: National Priorities Project: Cost of National Security; "U.S. Ramping Up Major Renewal in Nuclear Arms," New York Times, September 21, 2014 [back]

2. For details of the "community care centers," see "New effort to fight Ebola in Liberia would move infected patients out of their homes," Washington Post, September 22, 2014. [back]


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