I remember how the German minister of defence Rühe began with the salami tactics towards German military missions overseas: A military hospital in Cambodia, which was still suffering due to the civil war.
Who could object to saving lives, without killing anyone? Nobody. That's how it began. And then they progressed slice by slice, until 1999 German combat aircraft were participating in air attacks on Yugoslavia, and shortly thereafter ground troops were in Kabul.
One of Rühe's successors, Struck, coined the often-ridiculed line about how Germany is supposedly 'being defended at the hindukush' (in Afghanistan).
Now there's an Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Again, a few military hospitals could save lives. And this time it's less ridiculous to claim that sending troops (military hospitals) there would in some way protect Germans at home.
Yet nobody is even discussing this option in public.
May this be so because
* helping there would not be perceived as creating bargaining chips for diplomacy?
* playing games with combat troops as game chips is more 'fun' to politicians?
* there would be no bureaucratic or industrial special interests being served, since such a mission wouldn't justify extra expenses such as extra troops, extra vehicles et cetera?
* there's no equivalent in the European Union to NATO's hawk-in-chief, Rasmussen, and his bureaucracy, which are hell-bent on proving 'relevance' through highly visible expeditions?
* the football world championship has satisfied the masses enough for a while?
* an ebola epidemic zone isn't all that attractive to journalists and thus there are few reports about the problem?
I suppose in a rational government which by whatever info came to the conclusion that military action in Afghanistan is worthwhile would certainly send plenty cargo aircraft and some military hospitals to West Africa and put them under control of whatever coordinator institution there is so far (I suppose WHO). Or it would at least create a civilian response under the lead of Médecins Sans Frontières, possibly giving military medical personnel paid leave for it.