SCENE: The Admiralty, London, May, 1940. Winston CHURCHILL is poring over a map in the Admiralty’s operation’s center, looking over the deteriorating situation in France. He is joined by Admiral Nigel FRIEDEN, head of the Royal Navy’s public health wing.
CHURCHILL: It is clear that we are going to have to evacuate the British Army from France. In addition to a maximum effort by the Royal Navy, we’ll need thousands of civilian boats to help get the troops off the beaches and evacuate them from the Nazis.
FRIEDEN: I’m afraid that’s a bad idea, sir.
CHURCHILL: Why do you say that?
FRIEDEN: If we evacuate the Army, it will just make the occupation worse in England. Also, we’ll have to use the fleet to evacuate Germans from England, too, then.
CHURCHILL: That makes no sense.
FRIEDEN: I’m an expert.
NEXT SCENE: The US Air Force base at Wiesbaden, West Germany, June, 1948. General Lucius CLAY, commander of US Military Government in occupied West Germany, is looking at a map of the Eastern Zone. Ominously, red Soviet stars sit astride the three road/rail routes supplying West Berlin; the Soviets have just instituted a blockade, trying to starve West Berlin into the Soviet sphere. Clay looks pensive. He is joined at the map table by Brigadier (one-star) General Maximilian FRIEDEN, head of his public health corps.
CLAY: Blockade, schmockade. We will need to start the greatest airlift in history to keep Berlin supplied. It will show Stalin that we’re serious about
FRIEDEN: We can’t, General.
CLAY: What the hell?
FRIEDEN: If we bring food, medicine and coal to Berlin, it’ll just make the hunger, disease and cold worse. Also, for every load of supplies we bring in, we’ll have to bring a plane-load of Soviet spies and commandos back.
CLAY: Whose army do you serve?
SCENE: April 1975. As the North Vietnamese Army overruns Saigon’s last line of defenses, US Marine Brigadier General Richard CAREY is discussing the upcoming evacuation of Americans and certain Vietnamese from Saigon. Artillery is heard in the distance, as CAREY makes the final plans to remove the last Americans, and as many Vietnamese as possible, from the Embassy compound . He is addressing a group of officers, including State Department public health attache T. Morton FRIEDEN.
CAREY: And so we’ll bring in the helicopters from the aircraft carriers. We’ll get the last of the Marines out by 1800 hours.
FRIEDEN: General, that’s a bad idea. Evacuating Marines will only make them more subject to Communist rule. And for every helicopter full of Marines you remove, you’ll need to bring one full of Vietnamese back from the ships.
CAREY: (Stands, slack-jawed).
CDC director Thomas Frieden is telling us that wejust can’tstop all flights coming in from West Africa, because…:
It’ll Make the Epidemic Worse: Because ancient tribal burial rituals, lack of information about handling infections, and superstitions about healthcare workers aren’t bad enough; dispersing the epidemic all around the world must be ten times better!
If we stop air travel, we won’t be able to bring supplies: That’s only true if all flights from West Africa are on disposable aircraft, or are kamikaze flights. Planes can fly in the other direction. Hopefully to drop off supplies and trained well-equipped healthcare workers. And return empty, until the crisis eases.
I imagine Mr. Frieden knows this. But judging by the last round of elections, it’s a lot for a plurality of Amerians to understand…
UPDATE: You think I’m selling Dr. Friedman short?
It only looks like one of my parodies.