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The Politics of FearMédecins sans Frontières and the West African Ebola Epidemic$
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Michiel Hofman and Sokhieng Au

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190624477

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190624477.001.0001

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Whose Security?

Whose Security?

Militarization and Securitization During West Africa’s Ebola Outbreak

(p.25) 2 Whose Security?
The Politics of Fear

Adia Benton

Oxford University Press

In early September 2014, Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) urged governments to send military personnel and assets to respond to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. MSF emphasized that the military’s medical assets could be effectively separated from the military’s association with force and coercion to improve the quality and extent of care. However, foreign troops’ zero-casualty approach, in which little clinical care was provided, and domestic military–civilian conflicts, which arose during military-led containment efforts, suggested otherwise. Drawing on a review of images, key program documents, and news accounts, this chapter addresses the stakes and pitfalls of trying to separate military logics from military logistics. It focuses on what happened as foreign militaries largely organized their work around logics that prioritized the “rescue” of foreigners and risk avoidance, and as domestic militaries, at least nominally, secured state interests by threatening violence against vulnerable citizens.

Keywords:   Doctors Without Borders, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), Ebola, West Africa, military, risk, force, coercion

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