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Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Stephen Smith has written several pieces for Webdiary. His last Webdiary essay was Live 8: Dylan, Sir Bob and the selling of illusions.

Comparisons between natural disaster and war are striking in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Many will now question any ability to carry the cost of war and reconstruction in Iraq when the rebuilding of New Orleans and other centres will be years away. More disturbing is the sudden exposure of inequality. Like the people on the streets of Baghdad who need to be totally self-reliant, the poor and weak of the cyclone zone must learn to survive outside of any system of social services and job creation – if such things were ever sustainable in many places.

Homeland Security not only operates for the few; it also turns around to act aggressively against the many it has failed to protect. Suddenly the victims starving and distraught on the streets are under suspicion as the possible ‘enemy’. The National Guard has been ordered to ‘shoot to kill’. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco made this point loud and clear. “These troops are fresh back from Iraq, well-trained, experienced, battle-tested”, she said. “They have M-16s and they are locked and loaded.”

If New Orleans is starting to look like a Third World landscape, it is because this IS a strip of the Third World in America’s own backyard. Mississippi, with over 20% of its people living in poverty, is one of the poorest states in the Union. While many of the wealthy have been able to slip out under their own power, the poor have been left to fend for themselves. George W Bush’s response has been described as pathetic and cowardly; it is My Pet Goat II. It is now emerging that Federal funding to repair and improve levees and other emergency services was cut because of priority given to the Iraq war.

The culture of fear built up around the ‘war on terror’ cannot hide the fact that the US is under-resourced to cope with civil disaster and lacks the will to do so. Washington had to be pushed to mount a belated large-scale evacuation. We turn on our TV screens to see people with no food or water camped along freeways to nowhere. Where are the food drops and medicines? The military can mobilize quickly to attack ‘enemies’ abroad but only moves at a snail’s pace in response to a scale of natural disaster at home that has no precedent.

Over the coming weeks it will sink in just how unprepared the US has been for an event that was widely predicted. Resentment is set to boil over as despite the muddy waters people see with perfect clarity that they have been abandoned.

America will wake up - this lack of both judgment and compassion is nothing but the true colours of a regime that holds only contempt for the poor South, the working poor, and the poorly connected who are unable to pull the dollars from their own pockets to guarantee an escape from hell.

News has just come through that more than 20,000 people trapped in the New Orleans SuperDome – a ‘concentration camp’ that was meant to be a haven – cannot be immediately evacuated. Chinook helicopters on their way to the Dome were forced back by gunfire. Is it New Orleans or Baghdad skies?

How can America pretend to install freedom in Iraq when inside the Superpower the rusting machinery cannot function to save itself? The jobless classes who provide the cannon fodder for Iraq are paying twice – once with the lives of their sons and again in cuts to funding that should have repaired and made safe their neighborhoods caught in the path of a calamity that was overdue any day in the hurricane season.

The horror movie is only starting. How can this paralysis be witnessed in video close up but not be helped by human hands? Is it looting or staying alive down there? The curfew and state of emergency will not quell the unrest. What will America do once pockets of class war break out? How far will the rioting spread? The guns are in the control of roaming gangs while the police are trapped on the outside.

Unless the Bush administration acts with utmost urgency the storm will have blown away the empty shell of its rhetoric. Repetition of words like ‘war’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘evil’ distract from the awful truth in the Big Easy. There really is a thin blue line between law and order and chaos. There is a thinner line of public infrastructure to cater for the sick and the needy. Once that line is eroded the levee will surely break.

Under such a cloud the US will not remain in Iraq. It cannot - because of a loss of confidence; and an overwhelming sense of shame that the empire is unable to protect and shelter its own. The enemy within has proved to be leaders’ loss of compassion. The poor only ever get by because they have spirit and pride. But spirit and pride only stretch so far. In the most extreme situation, such as now, the state is unable to give life support. It is beyond incompetence. It is because they have let the fabric of society rot in the Gulf breeze. Basic public services have been let go in the face of a crippling war in Iraq and a greed focused on oil in those other Gulf States.

If by the images we see on TV we are unable to tell between the ragged bodies and gaunt faces amid the urban decay of Baghdad, and similar scenes in the Deep South, then President Bush is in deep, deep trouble. I would give the US occupation of Iraq six months. Sadly what is left behind in Iraq after a US retreat will have lost forever its heritage as surely as the devastation of memories after the Gulf Stream has rushed down Bourbon Street.

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re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

It's not the end of the war. It's the beginning of the draft. As a Yank would say, do the math!

Later, dudes.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Stephen Smith Are you willing to put money on the 6 month prognosis?

And by the by, I am wondering whether you realise the actions taken for both SAR and civil disaster response (including an evacuation) are in the hands of the state governments, not the Federal government? That the National Guard is generally run by and (at least partly) paid for by State government?

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Another very timely piece. The key, Stephen, is in your words: “America will wake up - this lack of both judgment and compassion is nothing but the true colours of a regime that holds only contempt…” You go on to say: “…for the poor South, the working poor, and the poorly connected who are unable to pull the dollars from their own pockets to guarantee an escape from hell,” but there was no need to add this had it not been for the fact that it is so very ,very true. “…contempt”, full stop, would otherwise have covered it.

For Bush the timing has been bad. The disaster of New Orleans and the Gulf area compounds the disaster at that other Gulf zone, Iraq. One can only hope that the mentality that drives the kind of thinking that has resulted in both these disasters will be rejected by the American people. The tragedy and emotion of 9/11, seized upon by the neoconservatives, both ideologues and pragmatists, to launch their New American Century, has given way at last to the reality of their real goals. It seems, while they cared little about the outcome of their terrorist activities in Afghanistan and Iraq, they care even less about the teeming mass of poor and underprivileged of their own country.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

No amount of spin in the coming weeks or attempts to shift blame by president Bush for the shockingly inadequate response to this natural disaster will divert attention away from his crumbling authority and failures in Iraq.

It's in times like Katrina's aftermath that Americans look to their president for guidance and to take command of a situation, yet the man has looked for all the world, like a stunned mullet.

The ruin of New Orleans is already magnifying that the current administration's roles are not in the best interests of the USA and what has always been a massively ramshackle infrastructure has been underfunded for years while billions are spent on dubious adventures abroad all the time propping up and enriching private corporations.

Six months or perhaps a year but the US will be out of Iraq and the failed experiment is over. There will be no democracy sweeping the Middle East. With any luck perhaps the US itself will return to being one once Bush and his clan have fled the White House.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

God forbid that Sydney ever experiences a disaster on the scale of New Orleans. However I know that that if such a catastrophy struck us, Margo would be out there... Want to know what it's like to be a reporter right now in New Orleans? Check out another woman pioneer, Ms Metzger:

Citizen? Journalist? She's Both
Emily Metzger, a community columnist for the Shreveport (LA) Times, is using her personal blog to convey the passion, urgency and anguish felt by so many other journalists during the tragedy along the Gulf Coast:

I don't care how many efficient federal or state press conferences announce that the relief process is underway. It's not enough. I don't care how many dry, well-fed but no doubt anguished officials proclaim to the world that help is on the way. It's not enough. There are still thousands of people trapped in New Orleans and they're starting to die. Whatever's being done is not enough. Human Toll.

CODA: This journal (below) has become the Survival of New Orleans blog, The Interdictor.

Thousands of Blogs Cover Hurricane Katrina's Impact

List of bloggers who've been posting from/near/about New Orleans and the Gulf Coast: Live from Katrina.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

On your point about predictions, check out this article from 2001.

As to the corruption in the US related to both Iraq and New Orleans Halliburton raise's its head again as in:

Halliburton hired for storm cleanup
The Navy has hired Houston-based Halliburton Co to restore electric power, repair roofs and remove debris at three naval facilities in Mississippi damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Halliburton subsidiary KBR will also perform damage assessments at other naval installations in New Orleans as soon as it is safe to do so.

KBR was assigned the work under a 'construction capabilities' contract awarded in 2004 after a competitive bidding process. The company is not involved in the Army Corps of Engineers' effort to repair New Orleans' levees.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

from Jack H Smit, posted on behalf of Brice Haigh:

Will Australia be dragged down by John Howard's friends?

Bruce Haigh
6 September 2005

The American response to Hurricane Katrina makes plain to all what has been obvious to some that the United States is a crumbling super power. If you can't look after your own then who can you look after?

Only the Posturing Parrot and Bumbling Beazley and their dwindling band of acolytes could possibly have any faith in the United States honouring undertakings and guarantees given under the tattered umbrella of the US/Australian alliance.

Let the Lowey Institute spin it for all it can - this administration and indeed many Americans are a flakey lot.

No plans to evacuate the poor and infirm from New Orleans and surrounding districts, an overwhelmingly selfish response from the rest of America and no capacity or will to rapidly deliver relief.

The US/Australia alliance has cost Australia billions, we have got precious little for it and yet with blind faith successive Australian governments repeat the mantra that if things cut up rough for the Aussies, Uncle Sam will help out.

Blind faith in the alliance has cost Australia self-reliance, independence of thought and a large measure of national pride.

The Posturing Parrot has given a new dimension and meaning to the word craven, he has elevated dopiness beyond cultural cringe. All his decisions are taken against the sounding board of how they will effect or enhance the relationship with the United States. God help us.

What is the set of values that we, and new Australians, must aspire to? Children in detention, the deportation of Australian citizens, the bullying of Aboriginals, the war in Iraq and the lies that got us there.

Weakness piled upon weakness hidden and deflected by lies and bullying. And when the Posturing Parrot gets bullied by the Yanks now running Telstra (thanks only to himself) he doesn't like it. How ironic: the true colour of American corporate behaviour is displayed for all Australians to see and the Parrot doesn't like it. He is caught between the black stump and a dry waterhole.

The parrot and his coterie of screeching colleagues on both sides of the mound claim the pinnacle of Australian cultural and moral achievement is Kirkpatrick on his mule. Either Australian education has been wanting for a long time or a certain class of political elite rewrites history in order to make their not very grand illusions. If all our current reference points are to be military and jingoistic and if it is to be WWI why look beyond Albert Jacka, Harry Murray, Percy Black, Ted Rule or Pompey Elliot and if we include WWII what about the saviour of Kokoda, Tubby Allen.

Stupid isn't it how we have allowed the most ignorant of the Philistines to take over the moral, ethical, defence and foreign affairs debates in this country. Pop the Posturing Parrot amongst the Tangled Bush and his thorny advisors and we have one very lost little tribe of battlers.

Bruce Haigh is a retired diplomat. He was conscripted for national service in 1965. He has been waiting for 40 years for the Liberal Party to apologise to him.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

After 9/11 there was much outcry about George Bush looking like a stunned mullet in the primary school he was visiting. They managed to come up with excuses to convince many Americans that he was fulfilling his duty to the children at the school. This time there can be no excuses for him, unless of course that goat story had taken a new turn for the worse & was occupying his formidable intellect.

Maybe the response was slow because the true leader of America was rubbing his hands together with delight when he realised that everyone's favourite company, i.e Halliburton, was about to get a whole lot more work rebuilding New Orleans.

Hooray for modern democracy, the governing by the people for the people.

PS: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/04/politics/04halliburton.html

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Can a President with 40-something approval ratings survive this debacle? If it comes to pass that many died in the aftermath of the storm due to the tardy response then Mr Bush's time may be up.

I saw some footage that showed a 94 year old woman being moved from a luggage trolley into the back of a ute to be transported out of New Orleans. She couldn't have been more frail and there was no comfort between her back and the corrugated metal of the truck. And she was white. I don't think mainstream America will cop this.

Rising oil prices, Iraq, the Plame investigation - the triggers are lined up. At what point will the neo-cons have to make a sacrifice?

A question for anyone who understands the US Constitution: imagine Bush resigns; do we face a President Cheney until 2008?

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

The war in Iraq was lost the moment the Iraqi people failed to throw rose petals at the feet of the US terrorists as they marched up the highway to Baghdad in the opening days of the war. It’s been down hill for the US terrorists ever since.

As far as the majority of the people of the world are concerned, the US terrorist war against the Iraqi people was lost before it even started because the vast majority of the people’s of the world knew it was based on a lie. Most people’s of the world saw right through that lie then, and now, those that didn’t see it then, are also beginning to wake up to it.

It’s only a matter of time now. It’s only the likes of Stuart, Lord high executioner, who would consider trying to make money out of a wager on its outcome.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Oops, your schadenfreude is showing.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Hold on, how is it Bush's fault?

Is it because he didn't organise the evacuation? Constitutionally, unless he ordered martial law (last done in Hawaii during WW2, no less) in the states in question, he didn't have that sort of power. It was the state's responsibility for any evacuation/response plan.

And he called for people to evacuate on the Thursday prior to the storm, with the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana waiting until the weekend. It was the state's ineptitude that saw such a lack of preparedness, especially at warning of the seriousness of the storm to residents, having suitable transportation for those without private means of leaving the effected areas, and making sure that assistance was available soon afterwards. Compare the actions made in Louisianna and Mississippi. Early actions taken in MI, late in LA... Early response by National Guard in MI (under state control, which the National Guard is until activated by the Federal Government in the US for special circumstances), late in LA.

It seems that the failure, far from at a Federal Government mess, was the fault of the state government's disbelief about the impact of the storm, the late warning, the more than tardy response to the aftermath, and the ineptitute of state systems put in place to deal with the crisis generally.

The Federal Government over there, like here, usually offers assistance after the fact if the damage is severe, but just as bushfires prevention, planning and combating here are almost an exclusively state issue (and states with problems can be assisted by fellow states, such as Victoria sending firefighters to NSW during crisis times and vice versa), so catastrophe prevention, planning and combating over in the US are almost exclusively a state issue.

But that means that it's a lot harder to pay out Bush for 'not responding' and showing 'the crumbling edifice', doesn't it? But who needs the facts when it comes to fighting Adolf W McChimpler, hey?

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Stuart, there are a lot of articles on various aspects of the situation here.

Please do some reading nd then get back to us.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Stephen, thank you, all the things I have been trying so hard to say. My rage has often threatened to overwhelm me.

The inept, the stupid and the deranged have been running the asylum. Katrina was tracked for days, for days there was time to evacuate the sick, the frail and the poor yet nothing was done. In Banda Aceh there was no warning yet they did better than the US.

"Shoot to kill" was the first order. Imagine Australians being told to murder Australians because they were starving, dispossessed and desperate? Would we? How the hell could Bush say that? Shoot your brothers, shoot your sisters, they aren't really us. They are niggers is the message. Loud and clear. They are the descendents of our slaves who got uppity and dared to dream they were equal.

Well they shame the world. Bush shames all of the US that is good and decent and fair, the parts of the US I love.

The parts of the US everyone loves. The buffoon must be impeached and thrown out.

Truck after truck of soldiers and guns and no bloody food and water. People dying of thirst in the world's premiere 1st world country because they sent the f...g guns and not the water.

Time after time I have heard people this week ask why Bush spent $400 billion blowing up Iraq, pretending to rebuild Iraq, and leaving those people to die. Any reader of history and lover of the blues in the world today would be in mourning for the Big Easy.

Fats Domino survived and maybe one day his timeless song, "Walking to New Orleans" will be played as they walk back into the rebuilt city. I hope it is somewhere else.

Now to Australia. Downer says, "the officials told us to keep out of New Orleans," so we did. What a moron this man is.

WE sent soldiers illegally to Iraq because the US told us to. We sent soldiers to kill and maim and be killed and maimed.

The administration of Bush and his toadies has shown it has no clothes. None at all, it is naked for the world to see.

And Howard has not said a f...ing word. Not a f...ing word, he is whining about tax.

Hey Parrot breath, rodent of rodentsville - Australians are being rescued by media crews while you say and do nothing.

People are dying in the streets of the biggest and richest country on Earth - did you see? Do you care? If they were all nice white folks would you care?

Downer? Hello, hello, is there anyone out there.

Stuart, I sincerely suggest if you don't have a sensible thing to offer you should just shut up.

Who the f..k cares if it is state? What did Bush do?

He read the goat part 11 in his efforts to ignore the growing deaths in Iraq, the growing dissent in the US, Cindy Sheehan and everything that is rotten in America.

Leaders and presidents are supposed to lead, not hide and cower on the ranch.

Never, not ever in my life did I think I would see one million people displaced, homeless, blown away, dying in the streets of the supposedly richest nation on earth.

The adventure in Iraq is done. Bush speaks of missions and jobs being done. But he never knows what the mission or the job is.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

You are spinning like crazy Stuart Lord, and seem to have no understanding of the thinking of the American people. Wishing that the poor response to this calamity was a state failure will not remove blame from Bush and and various federal US outfits like FEMA which is part of the Dept of Homeland Security and was an agency directly charged by a Clinton presidential decree to act specifically in a case like Katrina.

Underfunded and shackled by Bush and his style of government which has been ripping the guts out of federal US agencies while diverting billions to armanents, Americans, both Republicans and Democrats will be sifting through the aftermath of this disaster and sheeting blame home to where it belongs. And that is a president who Americans expect to take a lead at a time like this and who has been negligent.

It's the beginning of the end for the Neocons. It's a shame it took the loss of a city like New Orleans for it to happen.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Stephen Smith, how on earth can you can compare the US to Iraq. The US will bounce back whilst Iraq will always be the shit hole it has been for hundreds of years.

As for 'Fat Man' Beazley saying that Howard did not act fast enough, that is the height of hypocrisy considering the record of Labor over the years.
When cyclone Tracy hit Guff Whitlam would not come home from his holiday in Paris, and when the tsunami hit Latham was hiding away in his holiday home and even his own party did not know where he was. Darren Urquhart, can you imagine what it would be like here in Australia if Beazley was in charge with an approval rating four points below Bush. Michael de Angelos, I hope the US is out of Iraq in six months and the Iraqis can go back to doing what they do best, running around the streets in their nightshirts, or kneeling on the floor of a mosque with their noses up somebody's backside.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

The US press is pretty much in agreement that a sum of $450 millions was allocated in 1995 by Clinton for flood migigation and levee repairs by the Federal Government. Half that had been spent by 2001 when Bush, cuttting budgets and gearing up for war,cut the funding and little more was spent in the ensuing years. A prominent member of Reagan's Cabinet, Craig Paul Roberts, charges Bush's war plans and the vast costs with what he calls "the losing of New Orleans" and today calls for Bush's impeachment... and Roberts was Assistant Treasurer to Reagan. He also calls for a withdrawal from Iraq, as the war he says "is unafordable and lost!" I think we will see the victory of the Iraqi people, much as we saw the Vietnamese win in 1975. The consequences to the American Empire will be massive... not to mention their little poodles in Israel.

Ed Hamish: full name next time Brian, or no post. Have a read of the guidelines

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Compare the American response to hurricane Katrina in 2005, to the Australian response to cyclone Tracy in 1974.

The whole of Australia immediately pulled together on a bipartisan basis, using both Government and donated private resources.

Darwin is about 2000 klms from nearest comparable city, yet around 50,000 people were evacuated to other capital cities (by plane) without significant delay or suffering within a couple of weeks.

Less than 100 died as a result of Tracy.

I know all this because I was there when it happened, and I have never forgotten the unhesitating, unconditional support and generosity of my Government and fellow Australians.

My heart goes out to those desperate souls in the USA who are suffering double because of the hurricane, AND the failure of their various Governments to both prepare for and respond to it.

If the unfolding situation is any indication of the general state of American Government (at all levels) and the broader society then they are in deep, deep shit. We should be very wary about hanging onto their coat tails and following in their political, economic, social and moral footsteps.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

I received the following from a ZNet update this weekend.

This is Criminal
Report from New Orleans
by Malik Rahim

[Note: Malik Rahim, a veteran of the Black Panther Party in New Orleans,
for decades an organizer of public housing tenants both there and in San
Francisco and a recent Green Party candidate for New Orleans City
Council, lives in the Algiers neighborhood, the only part of New Orleans
that is not flooded. They have no power, but the water is still good and
the phones work. Their neighborhood could be sheltering and feeding at
least 40,000 refugees, he says, but they are allowed to help no one.
What he describes is nothing less than deliberate genocide against Black
and poor people.]

New Orleans, September 1, 2005 - It's criminal. From what you're hearing,
the people trapped in New Orleans are nothing but looters. We're told we
should be more 'neighbourly.' But nobody talked about being neighborly
until after the people who could afford to leave - left.

If you ain't got no money in America, you're on your own. People were
told to go to the Superdome, but they have no food, no water there. And
before they could get in, people had to stand in line for 4-5 hours in
the rain because everybody was being searched one by one at the

I can understand the chaos that happened after the tsunami, because they
had no warning, but here there was plenty of warning. In the three days
before the hurricane hit, we knew it was coming and everyone could have
been evacuated.

We have Amtrak here that could have carried everybody out of town. There were enough school buses that could have evacuated 20,000 people easily, but they just let them be flooded. My son watched 40 buses go underwater; they just wouldn't move them, afraid they'd be stolen.

People who could afford to leave were so afraid someone would steal what
they own that they just let it all be flooded. They could have let a
family without a vehicle borrow their extra car, but instead they left
it behind to be destroyed.

There are gangs of white vigilantes near here riding around in pickup
trucks, all of them armed, and any young black they see who they figure
doesn't belong in their community, they shoot him. I tell them, Stop!
You're going to start a riot."

When you see all the poor people with no place to go, feeling alone and
helpless and angry, I say this is a consequence of HOPE VI. New Orleans
took all the HUD money it could get to tear down public housing, and
families and neighbours who'd relied on each other for generations were
uprooted and torn apart.

Most of the people who are going through this now had already lost touch
with the only community they'd ever known. Their community was torn down and they were scattered. They'd already lost their real homes, the only place where they knew everybody, and now the places they've been staying are destroyed.

But nobody cares. They're just lawless looters... dangerous.

The hurricane hit at the end of the month, the time when poor people are
most vulnerable. Food stamps don't buy enough but for about three weeks
of the month, and by the end of the month everyone runs out. Now they
have no way to get their food stamps or any money, so they just have to
take what they can to survive.

Many people are getting sick and very weak. From the toxic water that
people are walking through, little scratches and sores are turning into
major wounds.

People whose homes and families were not destroyed went into the city
right away with boats to bring the survivors out, but law enforcement
told them they weren't needed. They are willing and able to rescue
thousands, but they're not allowed to.

Every day countless volunteers are trying to help, but they're turned
back. Almost all the rescue that's been done has been done by volunteers

My son and his family - his wife and kids, ages one, five and eight - were
flooded out of their home when the levee broke. They had to swim out
until they found an abandoned building with two rooms above water level.

There were 21 people in those two rooms for a day and a half. A guy in a
boat who just said "I'm going to help regardless," rescued them and took
them to Highway I-10 and dropped them there.

They sat on the freeway for about three hours, because someone said
they'd be rescued and taken to the Superdome. Finally they just started
walking, had to walk six and a half miles.

When they got to the Superdome, my son wasn't allowed in - I don't know
why - so his wife and kids wouldn't go in. They kept walking, and they
happened to run across a guy with a tow truck that they knew, and he
gave them his own personal truck.

When they got here, they had no gas, so I had to punch a hole in my gas
tank to give them some gas, and now I'm trapped. I'm getting around by

People from Placquemine Parish were rescued on a ferry and dropped off
on a dock near here. All day they were sitting on the dock in the hot
sun with no food, no water. Many were in a daze; they've lost

They were all sitting there surrounded by armed guards. We asked the
guards could we bring them water and food. My mother and all the other
church ladies were cooking for them, and we have plenty of good water.

But the guards said, "No. If you don't have enough water and food for
everybody, you can't give anything." Finally the people were hauled off
on school buses from other parishes.

You know Robert King Wilkerson (the only one of the Angola 3 political
prisoners who's been released). He's been back in New Orleans working
hard, organizing, helping people. Now nobody knows where he is. His
house was destroyed. Knowing him, I think he's out trying to save lives,
but I'm worried.

The people who could help are being shipped out. People who want to
stay, who have the skills to save lives and rebuild are being forced to
go to Houston.

It's not like New Orleans was caught off guard. This could have been

There's military right here in New Orleans, but for three days they
weren't even mobilized. You'd think this was a Third World country.

I'm in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, the only part that isn't
flooded. The water is good. Our parks and schools could easily hold
40,000 people, and they're not using any of it.

This is criminal. These people are dying for no other reason than the
lack of organization.

Everything is needed, but we're still too disorganized. I'm asking
people to go ahead and gather donations and relief supplies but to hold
on to them for a few days until we have a way to put them to good use.

I'm challenging my party, the Green Party, to come down here and help us
just as soon as things are a little more organized. The Republicans and
Democrats didn't do anything to prevent this or plan for it and don't
seem to care if everyone dies.


How the Free Market Killed New Orleans
By Michael Parenti

The free market played a crucial role in the destruction of New Orleans
and the death of thousands of its residents. Armed with advanced warning
that a momentous (force five) hurricane was going to hit that city and
surrounding areas, what did officials do? They played the free market.

They announced that everyone should evacuate. Everyone was expected to devise their own way out of the disaster area by private means, just as
the free market dictates, just like people do when disaster hits
free-market Third World countries.

It is a beautiful thing this free market in which every individual pursues his or her own personal interests and thereby effects an optimal outcome for the entire society. This is the way the invisible hand works its wonders.

There would be none of the collectivistic regimented evacuation as occurred in Cuba. When an especially powerful hurricane hit that island
last year, the Castro government, abetted by neighborhood citizen
committees and local Communist party cadres, evacuated 1.3 million
people, more than 10 percent of the country's population, with not a
single life lost, a heartening feat that went largely unmentioned in the
US press.

On Day One of the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina, it was already
clear that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of American lives had been lost
in New Orleans. Many people had 'refused' to evacuate, media reporters
explained, because they were just plain 'stubborn.'

It was not until Day Three that the relatively affluent telecasters
began to realize that tens of thousands of people had failed to flee
because they had nowhere to go and no means of getting there. With
hardly any cash at hand or no motor vehicle to call their own, they had
to sit tight and hope for the best. In the end, the free market did not
work so well for them.

Many of these people were low-income African Americans, along with fewer
numbers of poor whites. It should be remembered that most of them had
jobs before Katrina's lethal visit. That's what most poor people do in
this country: they work, usually quite hard at dismally paying jobs,
sometimes more than one job at a time. They are poor not because they're
lazy but because they have a hard time surviving on poverty wages while
burdened by high prices, high rents, and regressive taxes.

The free market played a role in other ways. Bush's agenda is to cut
Government services to the bone and make people rely on the private
sector for the things they might need. So he sliced $71.2 million from
the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44 percent
reduction. Plans to fortify New Orleans levees and upgrade the system of
pumping out water had to be shelved.

Bush took to the airways and said that no one could have foreseen this
disaster. Just another lie tumbling from his lips. All sorts of people
had been predicting disaster for New Orleans, pointing to the need to
strengthen the levees and the pumps, and fortify the coastlands.

In their campaign to starve out the public sector, the Bushite
reactionaries also allowed developers to drain vast areas of wetlands.
Again, that old invisible hand of the free market would take care of
things. The developers, pursuing their own private profit, would devise
outcomes that would benefit us all.

But wetlands served as a natural absorbent and barrier between New
Orleans and the storms riding in from across the sea. And for some years
now, the wetlands have been disappearing at a frightening pace on the
Gulf coast. All this was of no concern to the reactionaries in the
White House.

As for the rescue operation, the free-marketeers like to say that relief
to the more unfortunate among us should be left to private charity. It
was a favorite preachment of President Ronald Reagan that 'private
charity can do the job.' And for the first few days that indeed seemed
to be the policy with the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina.

The Federal Government was nowhere in sight but the Red Cross went into
action. Its message: "Don't send food or blankets; send money."
Meanwhile Pat Robertson and the Christian Broadcasting Network - taking
a moment off from God's work of pushing John Roberts' nomination to the
Supreme Court - called for donations and announced 'Operation Blessing'
which consisted of a highly-publicized but totally inadequate shipment
of canned goods and Bibles.

By Day Three even the myopic media began to realize the immense failure
of the rescue operation. People were dying because relief had not
arrived. The authorities seemed more concerned with the looting than
with rescuing people. It was property before people, just like the free
marketeers always want.

But questions arose that the free market did not seem capable of
answering: Who was in charge of the rescue operation? Why so few
helicopters and just a scattering of Coast Guard rescuers? Why did it
take helicopters five hours to get six people out of one hospital? When
would the rescue operation gather some steam? Where were the feds? The
state troopers? The National Guard? Where were the buses and trucks? the
shelters and portable toilets? The medical supplies and water?

Where was Homeland Security? What has Homeland Security done with the
$33.8 billions allocated to it in fiscal 2005? Even ABC-TV evening news
(September 1, 2005) quoted local officials as saying that "the federal
government's response has been a national disgrace."

In a moment of delicious (and perhaps mischievous) irony, offers of
foreign aid were tendered by France, Germany and several other nations.
Russia offered to send two plane loads of food and other materials for
the victims. Predictably, all these proposals were quickly refused by
the White House. America the Beautiful and Powerful, America the Supreme Rescuer and World Leader, America the Purveyor of Global Prosperity could not accept foreign aid from others. That would be a most deflating and insulting role reversal. Were the French looking for another punch in the nose?

Besides, to have accepted foreign aid would have been to admit the
truth - that the Bushite reactionaries had neither the desire nor the
decency to provide for ordinary citizens, not even those in the most
extreme straits. Next thing you know, people would start thinking that
George W Bush was really nothing more than a full time agent of
corporate America.

Michael Parenti's recent books include Superpatriotism (City Lights) and
The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press), both available in
paperback. His forthcoming The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories Press)
will be published in the fall. For more information visit www.michaelparenti.org.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

How can you create a comparison between a natural disaster and Iraq? Are you out of your freaking minds? People are still dying in this disaster and all you focus on are the politics.

You sicken me. It's hard to describe the moral turpitude being displayed here, but I have no doubt that if a disaster of this magnitude struck Australia, I know who would be squealing the longest and loudest. If global warming is to ever move from fantasy land to reality, it's partly because of the hot air expended from your mouths. Get some perspective.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Stuart Lord - "Hold on, how is it Bush's fault?"

It's Jnr's fault. He is the American Pope. Your nasty righty God kicked them badder than the nips at Pearl whilst St George-the-Lesser was off tilting at windmills. I well remember the GOP spent millions trying to get Clinton impeached for lying about a pop tart, do you think Bush SHOULD survive this? Do you think he is blameless for American attitudes? These questions are, naturally, rhetorical because we've all read your script and it's not the one Jesus wrote.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Salutary sentiments, but I wonder how long before it all blows over, the media moves on, and the powerful carry on with their business as usual. Scandals come and go, you think - pray or dream - that it will change things, but everything just seems to stay the same.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Marylin: "I sincerely suggest if you don't have a sensible thing to offer you should just shut up.

Who the f..k cares if it is state? What did Bush do?"

I suggest Marylin, you should take your own advice.

America has a constitution, it has states, it has separation of powers. The President is not a dictator who can do what he likes.

It was not Bush, but the Democrat Governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, who gave the orders to her National Guard to 'shoot and kill' if needed to restore order.

New Orleans has an African-American, Democrat Mayor. He has the power to order an evacuation, and he did not do so until two days after Bush recommended it.

Did the Democrat-run City of New Orleans organise evacuation of the people at the bottom of the heap, those without cars? No.

Did the Democrat Governor of Louisiana ask for Federal help when she knew the hurricane was approaching? No.

Did she try to organize tranport, food, water for New Orleans? No.

There have been plenty of studies and warnings that the levees could not stand a category four hurricane.

Was there any plan by the Democrats in Baton Rouge, or the Democrats in New Orleans to strengthen the levees? No.

Had the State of Louisiana or the City of New Orleans asked for Federal help to fix the levees? No.

Naturally, it's entirely Bush's fault, isn't it?

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

"But that means that it's a lot harder to pay out Bush for 'not responding' and showing 'the crumbling edifice', doesn't it? But who needs the facts when it comes to fighting Adolf W McChimpler, hey?"

Yeah, good on you Stuart. If the reporting coming out of the US over the last few days is any guide you're about as on the money as backing me to win the Melbourne Cup carrying weight-for-age. Pull you head out of Uncle George's backside and read around.

Editor & Publisher, originally published August 31st:

"When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people (New Orleans), Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA. Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.

"Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars."

Were we to "follow the money" (as it departs the state) in "Deep Throat's" parlance, where might it lead us?

"In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans City Business.

"On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; told the Times-Picayune: 'It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.'

"The 2004 hurricane season was the worst in decades. In spite of that, the federal government came back this spring with the steepest reduction in hurricane and flood-control funding for New Orleans in history."

The Bush administration! Geez Stuart, lots of poor State management there don't you think?

What do US newspaper editorials say of the administration's handling of the disaster? Let's not go to the "paper of record" the New York Times, which may be too "left" for you. How about the "pro administration" Washington Times:

Troops are finally moving into New Orleans in realistic numbers, and it's past time. What took the government so long? The thin veneer separating civilization and chaos, which we earlier worried might collapse in the absence of swift action, has collapsed.

"We expected to see, many hours ago, the president we saw standing atop the ruin of the World Trade Centre, rallying a dazed country to action. We're pleased he finally caught a ride home from his vacation, but he risks losing the one trait his critics have never dented: His ability to lead, and be seen leading.

Or the similarly disposed Dallas Morning News:

As a federal official in a neatly pressed suit talked to reporters in Washington about 'little bumps along the road' in emergency efforts, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin issued an urgent SOS. The situation near the convention center was chaotic; not enough buses were available to evacuate thousands of survivors, and the streets were littered with the dead.

Moments later, President Bush took centre stage and talked at length about the intricacies of energy policy and plans to keep prices stable. Meanwhile, doctors at hospitals called the Associated Press asking to get their urgent message out: We need to be evacuated, we're taking sniper fire, and nobody is in charge.

Who is in charge?

Losing New Orleans to a natural disaster is one thing, but losing her to hopeless gunmen and a shameful lack of response is unfathomable. How is it that the U.S. military can conquer a foreign country in a matter of days, but can't stop terrorists controlling the streets of America or even drop a case of water to desperate and dying Americans?

Best start writing letters to editors who obviously don't have your administration song book Stuart.

But then you mentioned the National Guard as well. Funny, substantial numbers appear to be guarding the Green Zone, sundry oil infrastructure and supply depots in Iraq (oops, that name again):

Unfortunately, the war in Iraq is directly related to the devastation left by the hurricane. About 35 percent of Louisiana's National Guard is now serving in Iraq, where four out of every 10 soldiers are guardsmen. Recruiting for the Guard is also down significantly because people are afraid of being sent to Iraq if they join, leaving the Guard even more short-handed.

"The Louisiana National Guard also notes that dozens of its high-water vehicles, Humvees, refuelers and generators have also been sent abroad. (I hate to be picky, but why do they need high-water vehicles in Iraq?).

Or to put it in the National Guard's Lt Andy Thaggard's words "Missing the personnel is the big thing in this particular event. We need our people." Those missing "people" the Washington Post reports (for the Mississippi National Guard) are "a brigade of more than 4,000 troops in central Iraq" while "Louisiana also has about 3,000 Guard troops in Baghdad."

Bugger that State administration! Fancy deploying that many of your citizen soldiery overseas. Sack the Mayor, recall the Governor!

I could provide links all night but that simply hog the thread. There are one or two more you should try to get across though Stuart. This is a good overview. As is this: "The day after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Bush was playing golf". He waited three days to make a TV appearance and five days before visiting the disaster site. In a scathing editorial on Thursday, the New York Times said, "nothing about the president's demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis."

And lastly, this from Rep. Cynthia McKinney:

(A responsive government would) Recalibrate its values and priorities. New Orleans is not just a home for hundreds of thousands; its ports form the heart of America's domestic and international commerce, and our oil and gas nerve center. Shame on this Administration for slashing money to protect New Orleans and shifting it to Halliburton and Iraq. Shame on this Administration for not curtailing our dependency on over consumption of oil; and for not recognizing global warming. Shame on this Administration for failing to take care of the American people.

This may not signal the end to the Iraq war though it may signal the beginning of the end. It will signal a change in the way Americans see their "Commander in Chief." The scales may begin to fall, though maybe not from Stuart's eyes.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

What a mess this is! Here we have a Congress of both parties (as represented by Bush) that have assisted in the stripping of wealth from the poorest of their country so the richest could get even richer; who have aided and abetted in the invasion of a sovereign nation based upon lies and deceit so that they (the Congress and their supporters) may get even richer and who have the audacity, temerity and hypocrisy to state that they believe in the sanctity of life while allowing their own dirt poor citizens to basically starve and fester in the hell that is New Orleans all because they didn't even think that the poor could heed their warning and leave like anyone else who had the money to do so. Christ on a crutch! Just where does these people's infamy and gross stupidity end?

The question is, what could this possibly lead to?

Will it be the beginning of the end of the global corporatist mentality that places human worth as a footnote on the balance sheet? Could this possibly be the catalyst that finally wakens the ordinary people of the USA (and hopefully, by osmosis, us as well) to the basic flaw in the current dominant capitalistic paradigm that greed is not good but is ultimately socially destructive? Here's hoping.

Or will it lead to a true fascism of the wealthy that will see the underclass of the US treated like 'untermenschen' by a full state apparatus of coercive control and a secret police with truly awesome and frightening powers with a cowed and insensitive populous only concerned with their own well being? The current proposed laws in the USA, the UK and here suggest that this is precisely where we could be going if the 'right' man seized the moment. Thankfully, Bush and his cronies are so incompetent that they probably do not see the opportunity in front of them.

The old Chinese curse is certainly apposite. The times are more than interesting, they are fascinating.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Due to lack of Universal Health Care in America, many of those in need of medical attention in New Orleans and large numbers of others who are just getting sick from having to eke out their lives from interminably hot day to darkened nights filled with horror shows, are not vaccinated against tetanus, or any of the other contagions floating in the foetid swamps that they are now calling home. We are only now starting to see the first cases of vomiting and diarrhoea, which may yet progress to cholera and typhoid, and who knows what else the impending winter months will bring, not to mention what the after effects of the chemical stew all around them will be?

Yet again, however, George Bush will connive to assuage the guilt the rest of his country feels for not doing enough in a timely enough way to prevent the worst of this tragedy occurring; as they are, all of them, complicit in no small measure because they allowed him to starve the city of the funds they needed for preventative measures by voting him back in 2004, which also provided him with the affirmation he needed to continue diverting money.

The saddest things I have seen have been the suicides. People who survived the hurricane, only to lose all hope because they couldn't see a way out from the hell on earth left after this natural disaster.

And the people who run this country want us all to believe in a God? Could some god-fearing Goddite please explain to me how any God could do this to a group of innocent human beings?

BTW, the day after Hurricane Katrina George Bush went to a Republican Party Fundraiser and played a game of golf! Nice to see he had his priorities right.

Yet I don't agree the US will be out of Iraq anytime soon because Bush keeps rabbitting on about how America must stay in Iraq to keep the terrorists at bay! Like someone else said: Osama Bin Laden should just pack up and go home to Saudi Arabia because Mother Nature is doing a better job on the USA than he could ever hope to do.

Stuart Lord: How do you explain the fact that the cause of the devastation after the hurricane had passed through, that is, the breaking of the levees and the subsequent flooding of the city of New Orleans, is directly attributable to the decision by George Bush to siphon off the money to the War in Iraq, money which was going to be used to fortify the levees, to withstand hurricanes like Katrina? Also because he has given massive tax cuts to the rich and under-funded essential public services [a bit like his compadres in Australia are doing, although it's not quite so noticeable here yet because there is a larger amount of social infrastructure to dismantle].

And that's the sort of society you laud Mr Lord? I feel sorry for people like you who think that chasing the almighty dollar and accumulating it unto yourself with a religious zeal and seeking to pay as little tax as possible so as to help provide services for those who are unable to provide them for themselves, is the way and the light. Well, one day a storm might come and wash you and all your possessions away too, and all the money in the world will be useless to you, as we all get dragged back to square one in the survival game.

Neil Corliss: your remarks are those of a small-minded bigot.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

John Howard appears to have been struck dumb - silence from the Australian Government, and Downer is still saying "they won't let us in". Why are we even asking?. We've been very quick to donate $10 million though. Maybe we should have sent actual food and water supplies.

The British Government have managed to send their consulate officials to meet British citizens en route to Dallas, but Australians have received no help from our Government, they have not heard a word! It seems our consulate officials only exist to support our friendship with the US.

What is wrong with the Conservatives? Compassion and humanity are AWOL for the poor. Money is no object when it comes to rescuing wealthy American/Aussie Douglas Wood from his own actions in Iraq, but nothing for ordinary Australians caught up in circumstances beyond their control.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Viva Fidel, compañera

Interesting divergence of reporting…
CUBA Offers medical expertise and supplies
by Karen O'Keefe Saturday, Sep. 03, 2005 at 3:07 AM

This was posted to DC Indymedia. I haven't checked out its accuracy yet, but Cuba offers free doctors routinely to poor countries and after catastrophies. We should make sure the offer is immediately, graciously accepted (assuming it's real). Perhaps we can find nongovermental transit and hosting.

by Fidel Castro (No verified email address) Phone: 202-797-8518
Address: Cuban Interests Section, 2630 16th Street NW, Washington DC, 20009 03 Sep 2005
Modified: 05:46:07 AM


“Here is the translation of his communication... "

Our country is ready to send, in the small hours of morning, 100 clinicians and specialists in Comprehensive General Medicine, who at dawn tomorrow, Saturday, could be in Houston International Airport, Texas, the closest to the region struck by the tragedy, in order to be transferred by air, sea or river to the isolated shelters, facilities and neighborhoods in the city of New Orleans, where the population and families are that require emergency medical care or first aid.

These Cuban personnel would be carrying backpacks with 24 kilograms of medications, known to be essential in such situations to save lives, as well as basic diagnosis kits. They would be prepared to work alone or in groups of two or more, depending on the circumstances, for as long as necessary.
Likewise, Cuba is ready to send via Houston, or any other airport of your choosing, 500 additional specialists in Comprehensive General Medicine, with the same equipment, who could be at their destination point at noon or in the afternoon of tomorrow, Saturday, September 3.

A third group of 500 specialists in Comprehensive General Medicine could be arriving in the morning of Sunday, September 4. Thus, the 1100 said medical doctors, with the resources described tantamount to 26.4 tons of medications and diagnosis kits, would be caring for the neediest persons in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

These medical doctors have the necessary international experience and elementary knowledge of the English language that would allow them to communicate with the patients.
We stand ready waiting for the US authorities’ response

But then in the US-Republican owned newspaper The Australian the following report…Offers of help from around the globe
Correspondents in Washington, September 03, 2005

MORE than 20 countries, from allies Australia and Japan to prickly Venezuela and poor Honduras, have offered to help the US cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Accustomed to being a rich donor rather than on the receiving end of charity, the US initially seemed reluctant about accepting foreign aid, but later said it would take up any offers.

... Earlier, President George W.Bush said the US could take care of itself.

‘I'm not expecting much from foreign nations because we hadn't asked for it. I do expect a lot of sympathy and perhaps some will send cash dollars. But this country's going to rise up and take care of it,’ Mr Bush said on national television.

... According to some estimates, the hurricane has caused more than $US20billion in damage.

The State Department said offers of help had come from Belgium, Canada, Russia, Japan, France, Germany, Britain, China, Australia, Jamaica, Honduras, Greece, Venezuela, the Organisation of American States, NATO, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Greece, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, South Korea, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Assistance ranged from medical teams, boats, aircraft, tents, blankets, generators and cash.

...But where the US really needs help is getting cheap oil, and the Bush administration will be approaching the Arab nations and other oil producers for assistance in coming days.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a vocal critic of Washington, offered to send cheap fuel, humanitarian aid and relief workers to the disaster area.

The State Department did not comment on Venezuela's offer, but several officials smiled at the gesture from Mr Chavez, who yesterday called Mr Bush a "cowboy" and said he had failed to manage the disaster.

Cuban President Fidel Castro, a Chavez ally, led a minute's silence in remembrance of the victims of Katrina in the Havana parliament. The parliament then returned to normal business, with a resolution criticising Mr Bush over the war in Iraq.

[as well it might, given the theft of New Orleans levee money to feed the war machine – but the people of the US must be starting to have pennies dropping, or the scales falling from their eyes]

Reuters, AP, AFP

Kinda funny, aint it? What was that about somebody cutting off their nose to spite their face? More like cutting off the limbs, etc, of the black and the poor of Louisiana.

ABC Radio National has been reporting the Cuban offer, along with Chavez’s offer of Venezuelan oil, since Saturday…but the ABC is all communists and Saddam-lovers, isn’t they?

Give the Bushies a chance to be statesmanlike in the face of the disaster, and the half-wit Prez and his troupers turn to snubbing and maybe, if they stick true to form, lies.

And you can bet we’ll join them, courtesy of the Maniac of Steel, and PoxNews media of the political old former Oz monkey shuffling around Hollywood in Rockports. And our idiot $hopping Channels will run close behind, PM’s Private Office script clutched firmly in sweaty little hands and dancing Mr Hanky’s jig.

'Monetise' MKWD ASAP, Margo. Give the bastards a bloody good run for their money.

Kindest regards

Peter “Jack” Woodforde (still a full colonel in the KGB, Havana section)

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Can some one inform me who the bright spark was that decided to build a city on land below sea level?

I know Holland is mainly built on reclaimed land, however, it has stood for centuries, where as New Orleans traces back no more than 250 years.

It is a tragic loss of life and property, however, apart from nature, surely the cities authorities are to blame?

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Stephen Smith writes: "How can America pretend to install freedom in Iraq when inside the Superpower the rusting machinery cannot function to save itself?"

Nobody who comes destroying everything in their path is coming with the intention of promoting freedom. Nobody!

America has never pretended to care for the underprivileged and poor. A few years ago people, then in their 50's, who had been gathered up when young by the state as homeless, ‘at risk’, or ‘troublesome’ and had been sterilised while in the various institutions sued the state for compensation.

The court ruled that these kids had given ‘informed consent’.

Those interested determining the extent of the practice will find a starting point at: http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread141115/pg1

As for the response to disaster, it is worse than woeful! If you are caught up in a disaster, and it matters not whether the disaster is localised or somewhat bigger, as for the people caught up in it doesn’t make any difference how widespread the problem is, the critical thing is for immediate, organised, action.

Get people out of harms way. Reduce or prevent injury/damage. You do not wait for ‘authorities’. You do not wait for ‘permission’. If there is a vehicle/machine available that will help the situation, you use it.

I grew up until I was 12 in Poverty Bay, New Zealand before the huge channels were cut, which was subject to major and devastating floods. Most everybody did something, donated food, blankets and such, space in their houses, skills, equipment.

Fires, different to the Australian conflagrations, threatened our first farm house. Nobody thought it would survive. Although outside the range of the volunteer fire brigade they arrived, decided it was a lost cause and the help of others who arrived stripped the house and moved the contents out of harms way.

Then they fought for, and saved the house.

I have been in both fires and emergencies since. The great results are always the result of immediate and often enough desperate holding actions which have lasted long enough for the backup to arrive.

The need in any disaster such as the tsunami and New Orleans is water, medical supplies — disinfection, bandages, ‘plasters’, insulin — baby food, food in sealed packages so it can be opened and eaten without it getting contaminated. ‘Camp stretchers’ so that at least the frail and injured can rest/sleep dry and tents would cover it.

How these things cannot be packed on pallets, flown in by military aircraft and dropped into those stranded in isolated areas within 24 hours is beyond me!

It would not be difficult to organise a set up to make this possible, cost very little to administrate and would give meaningful ‘homeland security’. Of course there would be no room for ego strutting, no opportunity for kickbacks, no rip-offs for your mates.

Come to think of it, hardly worth the effort!

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Bai Ren you have made a few factual mistakes certainly about the levees as State governors had been warning the Federal government of the likelihood of a Katrina style hurricane breeching the levees in NO.

Although it may appear that the 'left' are taking delight in this awful situation it's not the point. As a several time visitor to New Orleans this is a major tragedy in my eyes and not something I would wish upon my worst enemy or anyone merely to make political capital by attacking Bush.

However the simple fact that he has diverted massive funds from so many other areas of government to fund his failing war in Iraq must sheet home to many Americans that his policies are becoming bankrupt. For the Bush administration to stop the coming tide of criticism it is about to be swamped in - and it's a mass of other factors as well like falling public school funding, slashing of medicare, rising drug and fuel prices that will take it's toll.

If Iraq had been a success Bush could ride out this disaster despite an inadequate response but combined with many other factors and with approval levels plummeting the man is a lame duck president. Will that deter him from his course - who knows? But repercussions are coming and not from a web blog like this but from the majority of American people.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Yes Bai. Yes. It is Bush's fault. He is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Read this.

I have no idea why so many want to defend Bush all the time. The man barely functions above moron level.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

The good will wore off already - Houston is trying to move on the black trash and other cities just don't want them.

While this can't directly be compared to Iraq as some claim, Iraq will not recover and we helped to do it. Every step, every inch of the way Australia has its head up the backside of US presidents.

Downer says we can't send in the diplomats so the media do the rescues. Neil Corliss, your views disgust me.

Babylon and Baghdad were the seat and cradle of all civilisation before the West got hold of it. It has survived for 7,000 years before British intervention.

There is a great pool of oil oozing up in New Orleans, already 10,000 barrels that is mixed with every kind of toxin on earth.

Stuart. The US president is the Commander in Chief, he sent soldiers. That was all he did.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Webdiarist Russell Darroch found the following entry in Tom Watson's blog. It is reprinted here in full with the permission of the author (follow the link to see the accompanying photo of a soldier crying).

August 26, 2005
Sands of Death

Death creeps up on you in Iraq. The longer you remain amid the country's violence, the more insistent, the more bullying it becomes. Over time, more people you know die, or are left maimed, or have scrapes with death that leave them psychologically scarred.

"So begins one of the best reports from journalists in the field in the long, sad, failed Iraq adventure - Luke Baker's evocative Reuters report on living and reporting in Iraq. Baker's article is personal: it tosses away, for a moment, the reporter-subject convention, and portrays the reality of life in Iraq to those around him and the Reuters bureau there. And that reality is death - death in many gruesome forms, death for the sake of politics, for the sake of oil, for the sake of religion, death for the sake of the bloodlust of petty, murderous tyrants and killers. Oh, it is certain that is "is better to fight them in Iraq than in the streets of our cities," as the President and his lackeys insist. It is also certain that a doctrinaire, intellectually incurious, unblooded and stay-at-home gaggle of technocrats led by a faux cowboy from Connecticut unwittingly unleashed this waterfall of blood.

As Mo Dowd commented today (returned to form as she is, finally through with her mid-life crisis and honed like a Schick Quattro Razor to strike at the Bush chin stubble) we have returned to 1968: there is a mounting anti-war movement in America. This time, however, it is different. For one, it is not led by student radicals: we do not have a draft, so the college-bound upper middle class does not worry about the rigors of the battlefield. No, this movement is in the center - not so much the political center (it's heavy with liberals to be sure) as the center of regular American life: people with homes, jobs, cars, retirement plans, vacations, and high-speed Internet access. This is no "Michael Moore fringe" as the righties are keen to say (not that Moore is particularly fringe, given the sales of F-911: millions would have to be "radicals" to have made him as rich as he is). No this movement is very much like the one within the modern Roman Catholic Church in America, the lay movement of Voice of the Faithful, sickened by bureaucracy and yet loyal to the core: its leadership populated by Rosary Society types with plenty of gray hair and mass card buyers among them.

This is the movement of Cindy Sheehan, who has clearly survived the Swiftian smearing of the right to emerge into the broad sun-lit plains of the American mainstream, a brave and embattled Gold Star mother, the type of real-world person (looming divorce, mourning for her son, stricken elderly mother) that Americans can - and do - identify with easily. Camp Casey has become Camp Homeland, as the President's approval ratings slip below Nixon's, and a majority of Americans now oppose the disastrous Iraq adventure. Unwittingly perhaps, television preacher Pat Robertson - in his silly, addled call for assassinating Venezuela's socialist president - spoke for this movement; such an act was cheaper, cost less in lives and fortune. If we are honest, we can admit the Reverend Pat's words were thoughts that connect our Iraqi day-dreams; why didn't we just bump off Saddam?

The symbols have never been more stark: no screenwriter (even those who write farces) could have sold such a script in 2000, before the national election was pickpocketed by James Baker. Too unbelievable. A blithe, play-acting President on a bicycle on the ranch, under siege from a growing camp of aggrieved Americans while the finest, middle class youth of the nation is bled white thousands of miles away in the midst of a religious civil war triggered by the United States - with no hope of victory, no hope of Jeffersonian democracy, no hope for honor. Yes, this does sound like 1968 - minus the bicycle, and with lower approval ratings and a more mainstream opposition.

Yet, of course, the toothless, political cowardice of the Democrats must not slip away into the night of history. Particularly in this Congress, lockstep support for national security in the "time of war" has given the Administration the social checkbook it needs to write the bills for this war. Far too many Democrats went along for the ride, bought too easily into the argument that everything is different after 9-11. They missed the fact that one thing didn't change, despite the panic of the President and his little yelping terriers: we still have some national character in this country, we can't be sold a bill of goods forever, we know when to hold 'em and to fold 'em.

And folks, it's time to fold 'em. When the argument for continuing war is to merely to honor the dead that have gone before with more dead, with more wounded, with more destruction, you know the jig is up, that the military maneuver is merely in the form of a forlorn hope, destined to die for nothing. The Iraqi civil war will rage until there is no Iraq. There never was an Iraq, except as the construct of an empire and a dictator; we had no business in the squabbles of religious tribes. And we have no business in helping to write a consitution that places the lives of women at the mercy of a medieval code of sexist, moralist, symbolist humiliation and punishment. Conspiring with the mullahs against women may be George W. Bush's greatest act of treason against the world's people - and it will live in infamy.

There is nothing to this but to admit failure, and save American lives. Perhaps that is not honorable. Perhaps it leaves a vaccuum in the east, into which the hard-core religionists can step. Too bad: it is done. And we need to be done.

In Luke Baker's story, honest as it is, you can read the hopelessness of the situation between the stark lines of reportage, because this is George Bush's Iraq:

All along there have been stories about it -- those killed by aerial bombardments, children blown apart by suicide bombs, families caught in crossfire, slain at the hands of insurgents or murdered by criminals.

In March last year, I stood in the street in Kerbala as suicide bombers exploded among crowds of Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims, killing more than 100 people, including dozens standing around me -- strangers who became new victims of Iraq's conflict.

But in recent months, the deaths have grown more personalised -- it's not just random people who die anymore, but people you've met, people you've interviewed, some you know quite well, colleagues you work with every day, friends even.

Almost every week, someone on the staff at Reuters, just one of a dozen or so news organisations still operating in the country, has a new tale to tell of a relative -- a brother, a mother, a cousin, or a son -- killed in terrible circumstances.

Last month, one of the team of drivers, Yassin, said he needed some time off to look for his brother, who had been missing from his job as a blacksmith for five days. Relatives searched fruitlessly until, desperate, they decided to look in Baghdad's morgue, a building on the banks of the Tigris that is literally overflowing with bodies.

After trawling through the autopsy rooms, pulling out the cold trays on which the bodies are kept, Yassin found his brother, Ibrahim. He recognised him by the clothes he was wearing and by a tattoo on the inside of his arm.

He couldn't recognise Ibrahim's face because his body had been left outside in the sun after he was killed and the intense summer heat had burned his skin beyond recognition.

Does anyone remember "Mission Accomplished" and laugh? Or that rubber turkey the President was photographed with during his brief in-country photo opp that first Thanksgiving? Or the Pentagon's hidden caskets? Or going to war "with the army you have?" Or the WMD lie at the U.N.? Or Cheney's classic: "We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators."

Lies and worse: incompetence. So now Camp Casey will move from Texas to Washington DC, and indeed, will spread to cities and towns across the United States. And the moral relativist press will be finally shaken from its torpor. Even Russert will admit the waste. Even Andrea Mitchell will see the failture. Even Ruppert Murdoch will turn Fox to oppose the war from the right.

The war itself is over, the retreat will begin shortly, and Iraq will settle in to its own bloody reinvention over the next decade. And America, my country, will reel."

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

"People are still dying in this disaster and all you focus on are the politics."

Yes, well Charles Woodscolt, "sickening" it may be but politics is in large part the reason for the scale of this disaster. And politics is what the Bush administration plays – about most everything.

No contributor here delights in the unfolding disaster and certainly no-one is doing a dance on the muddy "grave" of New Orleans. The US press though, for seemingly the first time since September eleven, have begun rounding on what is being exposed as a largely incompetent administration whose titular head rides bikes on his ranch instead of confronting the Sheehan issue, who pretends that Iraq is a rosy scenario of freedom and democracy in action and plays golf the day after disaster struck – taking three days before saying squat.

As for playing politics, just wait until this absolutely dumbstruck administration gets its hacks and flacks into gear. The work-up has begun:

All this has been bad enough for Bush. Then the levees broke. A predictable, and oft-predicted, hurricane blew into the Gulf coast. As the waters mounted, refugees waved desperately from the rooftops and Bush uttered feel-good phrases. By Wednesday, major newspapers such as the Philadelphia Inquirer and Chicago Tribune were getting tough on administration cutbacks that had left the city naked. Business Week wrote: 'Engineers have known for years that New Orleans's levees couldn't withstand anything above a category 3 hurricane ... and just this summer, the proposed funding for the New Orleans Army Corps of Engineers' district was cut by $71 million for fiscal 2006' In a preemptive rhetorical strike, Bush's press secretary, Scott McLellan, said on Thursday: 'This is not a time for finger-pointing or playing politics'.

Most visible Democrats have gone quiet. They're fighting to get relief and repair funds from the Republicans, who control the entire US government and are poised to accuse anyone who demonstrates a memory valid for more than 15 minutes of playing politics with tragedy. But the Congressional Black Caucus was angry; it is not lost on them, or on any casual TV viewer, that New Orleans's desperate ones, who couldn't drive out of town, are largely African-American in what is one of the poorest of American cities, however good the times that used to roll in the French quarter.

In the war of interpretation that has just begun, the administration is trying to coat itself with Teflon. They have started to snipe back at Democratic city and state officials - and looters and plain sluggards. You can hear the sound of social Darwinist cards being played. Michael Chertoff, the secretary of Homeland Security, said: 'The critical thing was to get people out of [New Orleans] before the disaster. Some people chose not to obey that order. That was a mistake on their part.'

The troops were late getting to the disaster site and restoring order. Sounds familiar? The looters are eerily reminiscent of Baghdad's in 2003, when the Bush administration was famously unready for the 'stuff' that, as Donald Rumsfeld said, 'happens'. Despite evident differences, there is also eerie parallel in the administration's carelessness and cluelessness, a pattern of denial, neglect and abdication of responsibility. This functional indifference obliterates facts with aplomb. Bush told ABC's Diane Sawyer on Thursday: 'I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees.'

Sawyer didn't dispute Bush's claim. But many journalists are doing so and with good reason. In fact, the catastrophe on the Gulf coast may be the most widely predicted catastrophe in American history, as American media are now clambering all over themselves to note.

So yes Charles, the politics might "sicken" you. Not half as much as it will once Karl Rove takes time out from ducking investigatory arrows to crank up the political attack squads.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

My God, my heart goes out to the people affected by the Hurricane and deserted by their leaders. Last night we watched 60 Minutes and I am full of despair, how can they allow people to suffer like that in this day and age?.

This is what happens in the type of democracy that is being developed, the every man for himself attitude that we are being groomed with and desensitized with. Treating people like animals is becoming the norm.

The Government doesn’t care, they are not required to care, especially not about the minority groups! They just care about themselves and these people are not important to them. This is a type of attitude is not limited to America and it goes hand in hand with bullying. Then, when the people get angry because of their extreme despair, anguish neglect and treatment and rebel, the Government says "See, these people are violent bad people – shoot to kill". It is so wrong.

As a people we should feel ashamed.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Marilyn Shepherd"My rage has often threatened to overwhelm me."

Threatened? Based on your first post in this thread Marilyn, I'd venture to suggest it has. I have never read so much spite, bile and irrational rambling in one post. Yes, I know that is a big call.

Perhaps instead of denouncing people as "Parrot breath, rodent of rodentsville” and "the buffoon", you could keep quiet if you have nothing to contribute. I don't know who you think you're helping.

I very much doubt that people lying on the streets in stagnant water or sleeping in the Houston Astrodome will be thanking their lucky stars that you are sitting on a computer trying to link their suffering to your political opponents.

Donate some money to the relief effort and try to keep politics out of this one. Please?

There are plenty of other targets for your very special brand of hatred. It would be nice if you could re-direct your attentions there at least for a little while.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

John Herring, it must be remembered that New Orleans was settled by people without the disaster of 2005 in mind, and the ground was originally higher before sinking to its current level.

The society must have expanded naturally and the geographical difficulties of the location dealt with as required. These things happen.

Whenever a disaster occurs there will always be claims that so-called experts were forecasting it for years. If an asteroid were to wipe out Sydney there would be someone crying, 'I told you so'.

However, I can well imagine a scenario in which Dutch engineers were consulted on building the levees, with their advice then ignored by politicians and accountants for the sake of cost cutting. These are the times we live in.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Brian: "The consequences to the American Empire will be massive... not to mention their little poodles in Israel."

Hi, Brian Are you the same Brian that regularly posts on IndyMedia sites and proudly boasts of being an anti-Semite?

Or is this just an odd coincidence?

ed Kerri: Hi CP, unless Brian NoSurname posts again (with a surname this time) we'll probably never know.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Peter Woodforde, Hi!

Yes, Cuba's fascist dictator Fidel Castro did offer to send doctors to assist in the New Orleans emergency - he had earlier scornfully rejected offers by the USA to send doctors to Cuba to assist in a similar, though much smaller emergency in Cuba.

This sort of propaganda stunt is also known as "gloating" or "sneering".

Lucky for King Fidel, the USA did not accept his offer - otherwise he'd be down a couple of hundred doctors who'd have all set up practices in Miami and Fort Lauderdale by lunch.

Also, the al Qaeda faction of the Iraqi "resistance" claims God did it to punish America for its sins.

A similar claim will doubtless be made by the Holy Rollers or the Ku Klux Klan or other far right factions in the USA.

What al Qaeda did to deserve Tora Bora and the defeat of the Taliban may have crossed their minds, too. But they didn't say.

While the "resistance" and Jesus Freaks are crediting God, I expect the "intelligentsia" will blame George Dubbya.


The really, awful, shocking news however is that the evacuation of New Orleans was actually more or less complete this morning. And opportunities for capitalising on the disaster for political rhetorical purposes may begin to recede now.

Tragic missed opportunity, that.

Say, what was the population of Darwin in 1974? 50,000 or something?

And New Orleans is what? 1.5 million?

How long did it take for us to evacuate Darwin, I wonder? And where did we put the Aboriginal population I wonder?

I know, let's revisit this thread in a couple of weeks and see what people said. That should be funny. Hope Marilyn has a view.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Rather than running about blaming Bush for a natural disaster that neither he or anyone else could avoid Australians should be taking the lessons on board.

I have always been distrustful of State governments and their ability in handling problems of this magnitude. I would hope that if this were to happen in Australia we would have a clear system of management agreed upon already by all States and the Federal Government.

I live in NSW and for example if a disaster such as this were to strike any other state of Australia I would expect NSW to make helping that State priority number one. In cases of looting and out of control drug addicts and the like would it be possible for NSW police to help provide protection in a legal sense in other States?

The thing is no person can control mother nature. When she strikes the best that can be hoped for is dealing with the aftermath. In this respect America and indeed the world has many lessons to learn.

Linking this disaster to Iraq or any other policy is desperate and idiotic. America will bounce back from this to become a stronger nation. I am also happy to hear that any Australians there are safe and accounted for.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Marilyn, I have read the piece you linked to. Quite worth reading.

A few salient quotes:

“[P]osed fundamental questions about the competence of George W. Bush's administration and local authorities.”

“But the system of government in New Orleans is byzantine in its complexity, with different levees answering to different authorities, and corruption and incompetence legendary.”

”[T]he breaching of the levees had been foreseen for decades.”

Whatever failings Bush has, the mess in New Orleans is the responsibility of years of neglect by Democrats and Republicans, by City, State and Federal authorities.

It’s also the responsibility of a political system (not unlike ours) where politicians of every stripe look first, second and last at how they can get re-elected. In such a system a project lasting longer than the electoral cycle doesn’t interest them.

I have no brief for Bush, but pretending he’s the single cause, or that just removing him, would solve all America’s problems is just bunkum.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Can the inertia in getting aid to the poor black victims of Mississippi compared to the 'pull out all stops support systems during the Sept 11 aftermath be attributed in part to the question of relocating the victims. Which white state will want to take them in: And if they do - how long can they afford to tolerate 'poor black trash' remember they are in KKK and white, Christian surrounds. Sadly evocative of those death ships - those with Jewish people from the concentration camps - the good will gesture extracted from Hitler to release a selected few. Yet none of the nations accepted those poor hapless souls into their ports.

'Hypocrites! probably spat Hitler, as the ships were forced to disgorge their passengers back at the death camps - those that didn't commit suicide on board. And the rest as they say is history.

Picture this most powerful nation in the world caught with its poor and black camped at its doorstep. And they send the maid to shoo them off with a broom.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Noah’s Ark

This event has to be about politics.

Unfortunately it’s about the unfinished Levies in New Orleans and the appropriations to fund then which were made by the Clinton administration in 1996.

The levies were not finished. As predicted it was only a matter of time before a storm came which would breach the wall and allow the water from the surrounding rivers to fill the basin. Unfortunately it appears as though thousands of victims will eventually be found as the water is drained in the coming weeks.

The money to properly reinforce the levies has obviously has been siphoned off to pay for the invasion of Iraq. This is where the politics comes in. The emergency response or lack of it is also about politics. Is there a two tier response whether you are black or white, rich or poor?

Whilst enough print has gone into condemning Bush in the last few days I cannot help but comment on a couple of things.

The shoot to kill policy. "There will be a zero tolerance policy for folks breaking into shops even if it’s for stealing food and drink."
It’s hard to believe that such a response would be endorsed by a President.

Another point that Bush said to Dianne Sawyer off-camera. There won’t be any need for tax increases. Again this comment leaves one exasperated given the size of the task ahead.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

As a survivor of Cyclone Tracy I couldn’t help but compare the botched evacuation of New Orleans to that of Darwin. The evacuation of Darwin happened over the Christmas period it was a credit to the Australian armed forces, emergency services and the Whitlam government, their rapid response and expertise saved many lives.

At 10.20 PM on the 25 of December 1974 {only 14 hours after the devastating winds of Tracy had stopped.} Major General Stretton arrived to take command. In the first two days 10,000 people had been evacuated in the following days a further 25,000 were evacuated. It was an orderly evacuation; the sick injured and elderly first, followed by the women and children. The airport was cleared of debris and made operational. One of the first planes to arrive carried 184 police to help the overwhelmed local police. Medical teams arrived, clean up teams arrived. On the 26 December 48 hours after the cyclone seven naval ships left Sydney, loaded with supplies and sailors recalled from leave.

On the ground in Darwin stores opened their doors, food and drink was given to anyone who needed… no need to loot it was given away! People were the first priority not property.

The survivors pulled together, pooled resources and helped to protect the weak. See here

The questions that need to be asked are.

1. Why did initial evacuation of New Orleans not include the sick and elderly, why were buses, trains and aircraft not put on free of charge for the poor?

2. Why didn’t women and children have priority when the evacuation finally began?

3. Why was there no leadership?

4. Why did the food and drink that was left undamaged in stores, not be distributed to the survivors free of charge?

5. Why wasn’t the nearest safe airport, even a highway cleared, so military aircraft could begin an airlift?

With the resources of the US armed forces at its disposal and with proper leadership the horrendous sights the world has witnessed this week in New Orleans should never have occurred. Who knows how many lives may have been saved. The buck stops with Bush.

Maybe at last we will see the down side of economic rationalism the market cannot protect us from disasters only a strong community can do that. We as a society should always protect the weak and disadvantaged. If we fail to do this we are all at risk.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

I think a few of us, myself included, have been burned by "beginning of the end of the Iraq War" stuff before (see Bob Novak 2004 and 2005 and Norman Solomon here for a more pessimistic interpretation). I won't believe "the end is beginning" until we actually see real troop withdrawls (ie divisional strength), and not mere load shifting.

Historically major natural disasters have hit the US when it has been at war before. Hurricane Camille (a Cat 5 hurricane, not a Cat 4 like Katrina) is still the biggest storm to have hit the US. It hit the Gulf Coast in 1969, this didn't seem to deter LBJ in Vietnam.

Of course, the disaster in New Orleans, itself at the very least partially due to failures by local and state governments (see the comments at Logical Meme about the lack of evacuation planning), will rebound onto Bush. As Truman said "the Buck stops here." That's the way the media and the electorate will see it, regardless of the constitutional and legal realities.

This may help the Democrats' chances at the next presidential elections, but considering the pro-war position of the Democratic Party leadership, it would be niave to believe any of this would lead to an early end to hostilities in Mesopotamia.

Here is a quote from Ari Berman from The Nation:

At a time when the American people are turning against the Iraq War and favor a withdrawal of U.S. troops, and British and American leaders are publicly discussing a partial pullback, the leading Democratic presidential candidates for '08 are unapologetic war hawks. Nearly 60 percent of Americans now oppose the war, according to recent polling. Sixty-three percent want U.S. troops brought home within the next year. Yet a recent National Journal 'insiders poll' found that a similar margin of Democratic members of Congress reject setting any timetable. The possibility that America's military presence in Iraq may be doing more harm than good is considered beyond the pale of 'sophisticated' debate.

The Democrats' leadership are more likely to extend and NATO-ize the Iraq War, give it more of a "humanitarian intervention" makeover, a bit like Clinton's previous illegal wars against Yugoslavia. Bush's bungling at least gives the whole business of meddling in the affairs of sovereign nations a bad name.

Frankly the chances of a withdrawl is probably greater if the post-Katrina swing against the GOP is a leak, rather than an inundation.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Brian (surname not supplied): "The consequences to the American Empire will be massive... not to mention their little poodles in Israel."

Another coming on board to regale and entertain the masses with his wisdom so intelligently presented. I thank you sir for graciously sparing us the time taken from your obvious busy schedule. You are indeed a giant amongst mental giants.

Now sonny would it not be a good idea to get back to doing your schoolwork? One day you may actually wish to do something useful like gaining employment and earning a living.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

I sit here in East Perth on a day when a cold front is approaching the southwest of Australia. The Bureau of Meteorology has a radar on the Kings Park ridge to the west of the Perth CBD and images on its web site updated every ten minutes and I will be able to track the rain band as it nears the coast here in Perth. If the rain will be heavy then that will impact on any activity that I may have planned for this evening. Now if such radar images were run on computer monitors in the CBD and at many shopping malls throughout the Perth Metro area and also done at all the metro areas of Australia then the individual can take responsibility for their own welfare to escape any weather disaster that may descend on their local area. The authorities whether local, state or federal would not have any excuse in the event of disaster. Because their citizens would also be empowered. The Howards the, Gallops will have to act and act fast. Perhaps the Australian Constitution would have to be amended to ensure that emergency aid is seamlessly provided. Weather studies should be taught in within the school system. A ‘General Stretton’ type organisation should be permanently established so that we don’t have Nouvelle Orleans situation arising.

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Jay White, C Parsons, Bai Ren, et al, have entirely missed the point of this thread. They have not realised that it has very little to do with actualities. They have, in their usual rush to support the unsupportable, failed to grasp the fact that it has everything to do with perceptions.

Of course the Lying Tyrant, Bush, was not responsible for the actual storm and flooding, etc. However, just as he led his country off to a war on a foreign nation, he should have immediately taken up the lead in ensuring that a part of his nation that had been stricken by natural disaster was given absolute and immediate top priority over and above anything else that was happening at the time – and that includes playing golf!

Jay White says: “Linking this disaster to Iraq or any other policy is desperate and idiotic. America will bounce back from this to become a stronger nation.” What is desperate and idiotic is the attempt to separate the two in terms of being a reflection on the despicable character of the President – something the American people are now waking up to. As a result of this awakening America will, indeed, bounce back – just as soon as it has rid itself of the Lying Tyrant and his neoconservative minions.

Bai Ren seems to think that “…pretending he [Bush] is the single cause, or that just removing him, would solve all America’s problems is just bunkum.” Being rid of Bush may not solve ALL of America’s problems but it will most definitely go a good way to solving some of the world’s biggest problems with regard to the delusional US neoconservative foreign policy of creating a world that is just like America. What Katrina has demonstrated to the world, apart from the awesome power of nature, is the awesome inability of its governmental system to care for those teeming masses of people that are both the bread and butter and the cannon fodder of the Lying Tyrant’s delusions of American ‘exceptionalism’.

As for C. Parsons' comments, do we really need to try and unravel this jumble of complete garbage?

re: Is New Orleans the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq?

Oscar Werring, your schadenfreude comment is intriguing. I think a bit of clarification is called for. Are you accusing someone here of enjoying the suffering of thousands of poor people who have done us no harm, or are you accusing someone of enjoying the embarrassment of an inept and corrupt government, watched by a critical world while it stands by while its most vulnerable citizens starve and die?

Those of us—the vast majority in the world—who don’t have our heads stuck firmly up the XXOS American backside may well be pleased to see the US exposed before its peers for what it really is, but hardly at the expense of those Americans least responsible for what it is and the things it does. We can all see that they are its victims too. To see how much they have always hated it, just look at their reaction to the breakdown of its law. How much the monster that passes in America for law and order hates the American poor can be seen in its reaction to their time of crisis: send in not food and medicine, but troops with orders to shoot to kill!

Now a plague of locusts invading Wall Street, eating all that precious green they worship there, or a Washington overrun with frogs — those things would give us cause for schadenfreude. We would be dancing in the street. But never in celebration of what is happening now. This is not the sign we were looking for that the the Great Rogue Nation, most contemptible threat to civilisation the world has ever known, has begun its spiral down into oblivion. God does indeed work in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform…

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