ISIS vs. Ebola: A Blank Check to Bomb ISIS While Funding to Fight Ebola Is Slashed

Sunday, 12 October 2014 00:00 By Michael Meurer, Truthout | Op-Ed

A burial team wearing protective gear places the body of Diana Flomo, who died giving birth prematurely, in a graveyard adjacent to the Bong County Ebola Treatment Unit near Gbarnga, Liberia, October 5, 2014. (Photo: Daniel Berehulak / The New York Times)

Is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) a greater threat to US security than the current historic outbreak of the Ebola virus? If spending totals were an accurate indication of threat assessment, the answer would be “yes.” The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) estimates the US spent nearly $1 billion bombing ISIS targets in Iraq from August 8 to September 24, and this was merely the warm up act before President Obama ordered expanded bombing in Syria.

With the War on Terror now back in full swing, and the Pentagon and White House saying the new military campaign against ISIS “…could take years,” money is raining on US weapons manufacturers. Since August 1, the stock prices of America’s top four aerospace companies have jumped an average of nearly 7 percent, and the good times have barely begun. The air campaign in Syria is being waged with newly minted F-22 Raptor stealth jets that cost $67 billion to develop and $412 million each to purchase.

These jets are dropping satellite-guided bombs and Tomahawk missiles that cost $1.6 million each to blow up suspected ISIS vehicles, storage buildings and, according to one report from Aleppo Province, a cinder block residential home on a dirt street. At a “moderate” level, the CSBA estimates annual costs to bomb ISIS could be as high as $3.8 billion, while higher intensity bombing could reach $6.8 billion per year. The deployment of as few as 5,000 ground troops, which many military analysts think is inevitable, could run the cost up to $22 billion annually, per CSBA estimates.

By comparison, the entire budget allocated by President Obama to

fight the 2014 Ebola outbreak is $1 billion. Much of the total is being spent to deploy 3,200 US military personnel to build Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) in Liberia in an effort to contain the spread of the disease, meaning these troops will be exposed to the virus in the process. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), the government agencies that are leading US medical efforts to prevent the spread of Ebola, are being hampered by the effects of over $1 billion in cumulative budget cuts since 2010.

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