02 September 2005

USA: The New Model for Excellence in Failure?

The flood is a terrible catastrophe, but it is revealing what kind of society we have today here in America. As I watched some news coverage last night, I saw desperate people in desperate circumstances. It is horrific to see human beings in such distress. But it couldn’t help but think that the actions and attitudes of the victims reveal much about Americans, and it wasn’t heartening. As this article points out:

The world has watched amazed as the planet's only superpower struggles with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, with some saying the chaos has exposed flaws and deep divisions in American society.

"Anarchy in the USA" declared Britain's best-selling newspaper The Sun.

"Apocalypse Now" headlined Germany's Handelsblatt daily.

"I am absolutely disgusted. After the tsunami our people, even the ones who lost everything, wanted to help the others who were suffering… not a single tourist caught in the tsunami was mugged. Now with all this happening in the U.S. we can easily see where the civilized part of the world's population is."

Many newspapers highlighted criticism of local and state authorities and of President Bush. Some compared the sputtering relief effort with the massive amounts of money and resources poured into the war in Iraq. "A modern metropolis sinking in water and into anarchy -- it is a really cruel spectacle for a champion of security like Bush.”

And another article highlights questions about federal funding for levee repairs in 2002:

Bush administration funding cuts forced federal engineers to delay improvements on the levees, floodgates and pumping stations that failed to protect New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters, agency documents showed on Thursday.

A May 2005 Corps memo said that funding levels for fiscal years 2005 and 2006 would not be enough to pay for new construction on the levees.

“White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the administration had funded flood control efforts adequately.”

Uh-huh. Hey, remember that wacky Iraq minister who gave us some good laughs with his fantastic ideation and disconnection with reality? Well, looks like you don’t need a brutal dictatorship to have a spokesman like that.


Anonymous said...

You're speaking of " Baghdad Bob".

WestEnder said...

Yes, he's the one!

Anonymous said...

What makes you think we're not in a brutal dictatorship?

WestEnder said...

Well, I think a dictatorship is a situation in which one party has effective control over everything, and one person has effective control over that party.

I think at this point in the U.S., we have more of a corporate oligarchy than a dictatorship. Just about every major policy decision benefits corporations. The tax code benefits corporations, as does the campaign finance system, as does the Iraq war, as does the "war on terror", etc.

So far the brutality has been relegated to foreign nations where U.S. corporate interests lie, but there's no reason to think it can't come back here. And when it does, it will be called "terrorism", not "failed American foreign policy."