Bioethics Blogs

Epidemics or Extremists?

Following six months in the UK with no access to a television, I’ve had the opportunity to rediscover the delights of prime-time news media exposure since returning to Australia.

If I had to point to the (world) issue that is foremost in the media’s minds at the moment, I would probably gesture wildly at the current concerns over the conflict with ISIS (or ISIL) in the Middle East. Indeed, it seems so important to the public that it is one of the few causes that currently has complete bipartisan political support; and to such an extent that the current Treasurer has been (subtly) reprimanded by Prime Minister Tony Abbot for daring to question the Opposition’s commitment.

In fact, the decision to become involved in the US-led coalition against ISIS in Iraq appears to have been made with surprisingly little difficulty. PM Abbot has committed six F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter jets, associated support aircraft, 200 special forces troops and 400 military support staff, and has left open the option to commit combat troops for direct operations against ISIS. All of this in the face of an estimated cost of “about a quarter of a billion [dollars] every six months”, and the prospect of a long, drawn-out conflict. It might even be said that the Australian Government has been a little too overenthusiastic, with personnel on the ground still waiting for legal approval from the Iraqi Government to join support efforts.

In direct contrast to this rather enthusiastic crusade has been PM Abbot’s rather lukewarm response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.