Home | About | Donate

A Naval Officer's Spouse on Why the US Military Puts Empire Over Public Health

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/08/04/naval-officers-spouse-why-us-military-puts-empire-over-public-health


Splendid work from Andrea Mazzarino. The fact our troops are spreading it to hundreds of bases overseas, little noted so far aside from the tension in Okinawa, will resound with mighty consequence in the collapse of USA’s global empire. Stick a fork in it, it’s done.

That’s enough for one column – an immense historic issue – but Mazzarino goes on to scrutinize our cultural difficulties, in USA, with intelligent precautions, in general. We US Americans all but take pride in our obliviousness – which is how ignorant monuments like Ronald Reagan got erected in the first place. Now our game of flying too close to the sun is winding down, and not gently.


Move a few billion to domestic programs, such as tax reduction for working people, improve education and infrastructure, and universal health care. Reduce the empire, and clean up our own back yard. Use public works programs to benefit the public, not the contractors.


Thank you for your interesting article. I must take exception to one statement, “To be sure, no one knew how to tackle this virus.”

Just as your spouse, and his associates, offer their careers to protect this country by military means, there are thousands of people who are our defenders of public health. The CDC is not misnamed, the Centers for Disease Control.

In every state, there is a state public health department. In every county, there is a county public health department. They monitor disease county by county. There is a list of diseases that are reported each week to county and state public health, who, in turn, report to CDC. The CDC constantly monitors disease across the U.S. and the world. There is a CDC officer stationed in each state public health department. (“Stationed” is the correct word. For official functions, they wear a uniform.)

These public health departments track every disease outbreak (defined as three people in one location coming down with the same illness) in every county and state. When an outbreak occurs, the epidemiologists deploy to investigate, identify, contain, quarantine, oversee, until the outbreak is over.

Just as people in the military study and plan and deploy across the world to contain military threats, these people have studied, planned and deployed across the U.S., and the world (because when outbreaks occur all over the world, the CDC sends epidemiologists) to contain public health threats. We know EXACTLY how to treat a pandemic. Test. Identify. Isolate. Track. Test for cases. Identify the disease. Isolate the infected. Quarantine the possibly infected. Track all contacts so that they can be quarantined. This works.

It worked in Cuba, where they have kept their cases below 300, and their deaths below 100, in a country of 11 million. But, granted, they are an island. Then, there’s Vietnam, a country of 95 million, who kept their cases to under a thousand, with only 8 deaths. Test. Isolate. Track. Quarantine. It works. Hundreds of countries have used this method to keep cases and mortality low.

We could have done this. We could have deployed the CDC to do their job, the job they have been training for all their careers. But President Trump put his son-in-law Mr. Kushner in charge of testing. An ignorant amateur, in charge of the most important job in the world at that moment. My guess is that instead of leaving it to the experts, he grabbed the job because he thought he or his buddies could make a fortune out of it by monopolizing testing. While he was figuring out how to do that, the opportunity was lost to contain the disease in New York City and Seattle.

Experts, trained experts, sidelined from doing the job they’d trained for all their lives. Shutting the whole country down was only necessary because we let the disease escape into the whole population. Shutting the country down would still stop the disease, because the disease cannot infect people if it cannot reach people. Which is the purpose of the mask.

We have lost 150,000 Americans because incompetent oligarchs are running everything in the country as a means of extracting wealth. Our “health system” is a means of extracting wealth. And, pardon me, our empire is also a means of extracting wealth, from every country in the world. And so are the wars.

Wealth extraction necessitates the sacrifice of people. But that’s okay, because the rich people have already made billions on this pandemic. And isn’t that what America is all about?


Infectious disease does not respect class, gender, political parties, nation states, non of it. It responds to opportunity. Everyone needs to do a risk/benefit evaluation because right now few people are immune. Everyone that does not use precautions has risk. This includes increased opportunity and that affects everyone.

This is from a book written twenty-one years ago:

" Citing declining government support for public health, increasing globalization of humanity and its microbial hitchhikers, and the rise of managed care in America, Lederberg held out little hope for the future . . .   but to say public health is going to be left out in the cold by Washington is an understatement, the visibly angry Lederberg continued . . . it's already out in the cold . . .  Public health--that system is very close to being in a shambles at this time . . .  It took centuries to build a public halth system, and less than two decades to tear it down.  Once the envy of the world, America's public health infrastructure was, at the end of the twentieth century, indeed in a shambles."  pp 279-280

“The public health impacts of the Reagan administration’s budget and tax cuts of 1981, 1982, and 1983 were far-reaching and profound. Every conceivable aspect of public health in the United States felt the pinch.” p. 380

“In the budget cutting, many Health and Human Services (HHS, formerly HEW) were severely slashed or eliminated. Shut down entirely were the Public Health Service Hospitals, the Public Health Service Corps (physicians deployed to rural and inner-city areas), and federally subsidized health care for civilian seamen.” p. 381

“Today the nation’s public health apparatus is barely able to respond to the epidemics of the late twentieth century such as tuberculosis, AIDS, and measles, much less play a leadership role in health care planning and control.” p. 422

“Within eight years the Reagan administration had so thoroughly defeated its regulatory adversaries that public health was forced into defeat, even on issues of bona fide community health threats . . .” p. 580

“Few public health barriers will be in place to prevent global spread of disease, and ever more drugs will be rendered useless by microbial resistance. United Nations agencies, including the World Health Organization, will witness further deterioration in their funding and influence.” p. 582

From “Betrayal of Trust: the Collapse of Global Public Health.” by Laurie Garrett

Remember, this book is more than twenty years old. Reagan was buying lots of weapons and equipment for the military at this time. Ah, the Grand Old Party.


But Saint Ronnie just HAD to defeat those atheistic commies so our “shining city on a hill” could win the Cold War! Also, he preached that, “Government IS the problem” (except when it came to bloated military budgets and tax cuts for his corporate cronies).

Since then, RethugliKKKans have done everything in their power to demonstrate that “government IS the problem”, including underfunding everything except the military and the fossil fuels corporations destroying our planet. And the dumb Dems have meekly gone along with this betrayal.


Well, the century anniversary (a wee tad more) of the “Spanish” flu pandemic, more precisely called the Kansas Flu and even more precisely than that, the Haskell County, KS Flu, the military repeats is roll of spreading disease across the world.
Info Note 1: Haskell County is in the far south-west corner of Kansas, southwest of Dodge City and Cimmaron. The first known case came out of here, and the soldier from there reported into Camp Funston.
Camp Funston was a part of Fort Riley, adjacent to Junction City, Kansas in the middle of the northeastern quadrant of Kansas. Camp Funston was constructed new at the time. Quote from Kansapedia: “Construction began in July 1917 and buildings were laid out uniformly in city block squares with main streets and side streets on either side. An estimated 2,800 to 4,000 buildings were constructed at the camp to accommodate more than 40,000 soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 89th Division, who were stationed at the facility. The camp cost roughly $10 million to build.” It was decommissioned in 1924 and all the facilities (i.e. buildings) removed. Today you can see some foundations in the still running and large Fort Riley.
Info Note 2: ~~https://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/flu-epidemic-of-1918/17805
Gives an account of the first origins. March 4, 1918 500 soldiers suddenly had the disease. Then it seemed to go away for a bit and the soldiers were sent overseas where it mutated and came back with a vengeance, circulating across the world including back to the US.

1 Like

If only - during these challenging times, all these military personnel that we are funding with our sweat and blood (without our consent) - had been deployed to actually defend the health and well being of the people that provides their salaries. Just saying.

No, they’ve just followed the orders of their Masters, the Oligarchy. Apparently Pelosi made ten million$ in the past four years. No, she wasn’t just lucky, she did what she was told to do and did it well. Ten mill is just pocket change to her Masters. Cheer up, it’s getting worse.

Good to see Laurie garrett referenced here. She has authored many engaging books on diseases of pandemics. I’ve only read THE COMING PLAGUE written sometime in the 90s and began washing all my fruit with soap and water at that point. But it was still easy to ignore the signs of this outbreak when it broke in the news in december.