By Dave Lindorff
How's this for a juxtaposition on how nations respond to a global health catastrophe. Check out these two headlines from yesterday's news:
Reading these stories, which ran in, respectively, the BBC and Reuters, one learns that the Cuban government, which runs a small financially hobbled island nation of 11 million people, with a national budget of $50 billion, Gross Domestic Product of 121 billion and per capita GDP of just over $10,000, is dispatching 165 medical personnel to Africa to regions where there are ebola outbreaks, while the US, the world's wealthiest nation, with a population of close to 320 million, a national budget of $3.77 trillion, GDP of $17 trillion, and per capita GDP of over $53,000, is sending troops -- $3000 of them-- to "fight" the ebola epidemic.
Okay, I understand that these troops are supposedly going to be "overseeing" construction of treatment centers, but let's get serious. With an epidemic raging through Africa, where some of the poorest nations in the world are located, what is needed right now are not new structures. Tent facilities would be fine for treating people in this kind of a crisis. What is needed is medical personnel. The important line in the Reuters article about the US "aid" plan, though is that the US troops will
..."establish a military control center for coordination, U.S. officials told reporters.
"The goal here is to search American expertise, including our military, logistics and command and control expertise, to try and control this outbreak at its source in west Africa," Lisa Monaco, Obama's White House counter-terrorism adviser, told MSNBC television on Tuesday ahead of the announcement.
Cuba apparently does not feel that it needs to establish a military control center to dispatch its doctors and nurses, nor does it feel that "military, logistics and command and control expertise" are what are needed.