Wednesday, 8 October 2014

A War We Can Win

There is a lot of talk about terrorism, the new Not So Islamic State and a particular obsession over exactly how many bombs Australian Super Hornets have / have not dropped on Iraq and/or Syria.

But haven’t we been here before? It seems whatever the West does in the Middle-East it just seems to get worse. It is a chaotic and unpredictable system with the many competing, and often contradictory, agendas of those involved.

When the "coalition of the willing" tried to recast the 2002 Iraq war as, “We didn’t find weapons of mass destruction, but who cares Saddam was evil anyway,” many said, "Yeah ok." But 12 years later, not many would argue that the average Iraqi was probably better off under Saddam.

The Not So Islamic State makes Saddam look like a kindergarten teacher, but it is still difficult to predict the long-term consequences of wiping them from the face of the earth.*

This begs the question. Is there such a thing as a just war? Yes there is!

In West Africa there is an enemy just as evil as IS that is capable of killing even more people in circumstances just as hideous. It spreads via bodily fluids that that flood out of the bleeding orifices of victims. When they die they become virus factories that take advantage of West African funeral practices to infect ever more victims. This enemy is called the Ebola virus.

This war isn’t complex, it won’t have unexpected future consequences and it is one we can win. So why isn’t the rest of the world putting in the needed resources to stop this virus in its tracks? Australia will probably spend $500 million on combat operations in Iraq and Syria but have only spent a measly couple of million to fight Ebola.

Our family has donated money to Doctors Without Borders to help fight the spread of Ebola and I believe it is our responsibility as human beings to help those in need, if we can. We can only do so much, but governments and multinational corporations have greater responsibilities due to their massive economic power.

World leaders need to get off their antiterrorism high horse and do something about a war they can actually do something to win.

When the fight against Ebola is finally won, there will still be work to do. In many West African countries the Doctor per capita ratio is ridiculously low. Consequently, many people in those countries are ignorant about basic sanitary behaviour and are even distrustful of Western medicine. In European countries our cultures evolved to cope with repeated deadly pandemics such as cholera and the plague. For example, a taboo developed against the touching of dead bodies. This never happened in this area of the world, meaning their culture is still very susceptible to diseases such as Ebola that would never gain traction in a Western environment.

So we should not abandon these people after the war against Ebola is won, but make great efforts to improve the medical deficit that allowed this problem to appear in the first place. The Western world should also be aware of the direct consequences of their skilled migrant programs, where a country such as Nigeria pays to train a doctor only to lose them to a Western country.

You can donate to Doctors Without Borders here: (Donations over $2 are tax deductible.)

*I'm not saying we should/shouldn't do something about IS, just that our resources might do more if directed elsewhere.

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