When President Obama declared Ebola a national-security issue, he didn’t calm people’s fears. He inflamed them. Many immediately jumped to suggesting all kinds of draconian solutions to keep the disease from getting here.
Additionally, the national-security talk muddled the nature of the response to stem the outbreak in West Africa. Breaking up the outbreak is clearly a humanitarian mission, not a national-security imperative. Providing some military support for overseas disaster and disease response can well be justified. But by trumpeting the deployment of troops, the president obscured the fact that what’s needed is a response supported by multiple U.S. government agencies and nongovernmental organizations.
As a result, Americans are busily debating the wisdom of sending several thousands of troops, rather than asking the more important question: Is U.S. assistance organized as efficiently and effectively as it should be?