Civil Unrest

My apologies for not providing more links myself… time is short… but, if you do a search on the Internet for the progression of a nations or areas stability and civility you will see that before a people can feel empowered and safe, they must have access to the basics. Food, water, heat, and a secure environment.

After seeing the pictures of New Orleans yesterday and hearing the many reports I can’t help but see the obvious similarities to Iraq.

And then I see this

The evacuation of stranded hurricane victims from New Orleans’ Superdome stadium has been suspended after shots were fired at a rescue helicopter.
“We have suspended operations until they gain control of the Superdome,” an ambulance official told the Associated Press news agency.

Many thoughts are running through my head, but out of respect for the people who are victims here, I am reluctant to go full bore.

I will only say this… I think all levels of the US Government have been thrown into the deep end, and they’re about to learn a LOT. I only hope they apply that knowledge to other spheres of influence.

Please… give often and give generously. Contact your local Red Cross or other Humanitarian agency.

Sometimes it seems like there are just too many disasters and human catastrophes out there to keep track of. That is why we just have to keep giving… , the city of Bam, Iran, the country of Iraq, the Tsunami region, the continent of Africa… and now the Gulf Coast.

These people need nothing more than a helping hand. But they need a lot of them.

Give.

15 thoughts on “Civil Unrest”

  1. Let’s not make premature assumptions. We have all been fooled by reports – In July the London police shot some poor innocent soul in the head with 7 bullets based on erroneous assumptions. It took a while but the facts finally have come out. So let’s wait before you start fantasizing about the end of law and order in our wonderful country. If you think lawlessness is confined to American society, think again.

    New Orleans is now populated with desperate people and some of them are not the cream of society and may even be mentally unbalanced. We’ve had rioting and shooting at emergency personnel since the 60s. Remember Watts and Detroit circa 1969 – 1970? No, probably not. More likely any lawlessnes we experience now can be traced directly back to the erosion of respect for authority exhibited during the anti-war protests of the 60s and early 70s.

  2. PS Chris, thanks for not going “full bore” as the US struggles to deal with the aftermath of the worst disaster to hit the country since the San Francisco quake of 1906 and the 1900 hurricane of Galveston TX where 12000 died.

    This is not the time for Canadians and other Euro types to tell us how inept we are and we should’ve, could’ve done this or that. A metro area of 1.3 million is now largely uninhabitable. The logistics needed to deal with this fact is developing as rapidly as possible. Of course, those of us outside the area sitting in comfortable easy chairs after a nice dinner can focus on blaming GWB and his government for not getting the mess cleaned up faster. That will be very helpful, no doubt. Oh, sorry. I guess I’m making assumptions based only on your “full bore” comment. Shame on me.

  3. Jane:

    “If you think lawlessness is confined to American society, think again.”

    I absolutely do NOT think that. Nor have I criticized anything to do with this relief operation… they’re dealing with it the best they can.

    All I am saying is that the disaster relief effort that is happening right now in New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast is and will continue to mirror similar situations that the US finds itself in around the world in terms of the break down of civil law and order and lack of basic services. There is no doubt in my mind that the many institutions inside America that are set up to deal with these disasters will do so very well… it is the institutions that handle affairs outside of US Borders that have a lesson to learn.

    You know my position on Iraq well and you know how I feel about the current US Administrations propensity for “Nation Building” Well.. now they have to basically do exactly the same thing… except in their own backyard.

    There are many many parallels here, I think you can honestly recognize them.

    All I want is for people to recognize that and apply the hard lessons that will inevitably be learned RIGHT NOW in the Gulf Coast to other situations.

    If you want examples:

    #1) Security and stability through overwhelming numbers of soldiers
    #2) Securing the well being of all refugees first and foremost.
    #3) Securing access to basic services.

    So far, #1 is on its’ way, #2 is progressing well and #3 is next on the list.

    Notice how there’s no talk about how the people being moved into the Astrodome will be OK as long as they can vote in the Primaries next time ’round?

    It’s those kinds of lessons…

  4. Okay, then. Truce. However, we have worked very hard to provide services in Iraq. The blame for lack of services can be laid at the feet of the insurgents and terrorists from outside Iraq. Most Iraqis have dry homes, sanitation, food, electricity, water, school and medical care albeit interruptions seem to occur and some areas have it worse than others. Under Saddam, children starved and received little preventive medical care if any unless they were Sunni children. That is what is so horrific about the OFF scandal.

  5. “The blame for lack of services can be laid at the feet of the insurgents and terrorists from outside Iraq.”

    That is absolute and utter tripe… the lack of basic services is the direct result of the initial war which ravaged infrastructure and subsequent lack of security due to lack of manpower and planning, just as the situation in New Orleans is the direct result of the Hurricane and subsequent flooding.

    it’s as if you said this Jane:

    “The blame for lack of services can be laid at the feet of the looters and extortionists outside New Orleans.”

    You know that’s false… please, step back for a moment.

  6. The point is… you have it backwards… criminals and bandits do not create a lack of basic services… it is the lack of basic services that creates the criminals and civil unrest.

    Tragedy breeds desperation.

    Desperation breeds anger.

    Anger breeds violence.

    Violence breeds Tragedy.

    And so on… we saw it in Iraq. There was a window right after Saddam fell when most Iraqis were desperate, but hopeful… now, we are in this terrible cycle.

    There is no doubt in my mind that New Orleans will not fall into the same cycle, it is after all, only one region in a very large and prosperous and generous nation… but we are seeing the seeds of what happened in Iraq and I want people to recognize them for what they are.

  7. Tripe? “However, we have worked very hard to provide services in Iraq.” Is that tripe too? I have read many many reports of sabatoge of basic utilities in Iraq. We build it and they tear it down. Further, when the first priority has to be the defeat of murderous groups determinted to undermine political stability and sow death and destruction targeting their own people, the result is that the resources to improve quality of life are impaired dramatically. Without the so-called insurgency, Iraq would have been back to normal by now and perhaps much improved compared to life under Saddam.

    AND your assessment that the goups causing all the violence in Iraq are victims of tragedy is laughable. The Ba’athist ruled the country. They had it all and now they are supposed to be poor victims? The majority of the fighting is being carried out by outsiders, reportedly many upper class disallusioned advocates of Wahhabism from neighboring countries. You have this overly dramatic and emotional assessment of Shakespearean flavor to the “freedom” fighters wreaking havoc on defenseless Iraqi women and children. Time to grow-up. This is about power, not about food and water.

    The aim of the lawless in Iraq is not to provide basic needs to the people they maim, torture and kill (or perhaps you don’t read what the terrorists did to their own in Fallajuh) but to insure that they themselves will be in power ultimately and they don’t care who suffers and dies while they pursue their own interests.

    I’ll have to agree that planning for insurrection wasn’t done. Planning for New Orleans to stay dry (ala the Netherlands) wasn’t done, either. But your comments and comparison of Iraq with New Orleans only serves to illustrate the typical leftist obsession with presenting the worst possible interpretation of US actions.

  8. “They had it all and now they are supposed to be poor victims?”

    No Jane… you’re not getting it… the point is IRAQI’s are the victims. Doesn’t matter if they’re Baathist or Sunni or Shia or Christian or Turkomen or Kurdish…. they ALL are living in an unstable country brought on by a massive catastrophe (war) which has deprived many (not all… but clearly enough) of the most basic of services. This is, in its’ essence no different from being hit by a Hurricane… the only difference is Iraqis are in Iraq where resources are extremely limited and must be brought in from far away places.

    ” We build it and they tear it down. “

    So tell your government to do the job RIGHT and send in as many troops as the US Military and State Department recommended!! Contrary to what you may believe, I *know* that there are plenty of people who have the right answers in the US right now… unfortunately they are NOT being listened to.

    “However, we have worked very hard to provide services in Iraq.”

    No, that is not tripe… it’s the honest truth… but you have admit that along with that the reason that hard work has been so wasted is because security and planning simply wasn’t up to snuff.

    “The majority of the fighting is being carried out by outsiders”

    Again, you’re not understanding my point… the point is that, if the US concentrated LESS on fighting the insurgency and MORE on providing the security to the people who are working to restore basic services (ie. Massive security presence guarding all basic services), THEN people would start to be able to lead normal lives…. THEN the insurgency would go away, for good.

    Only when people believe that things are getting BETTER will they become civil.

    “This is about power, not about food and water.”

    Why don’t you ask an Iraqi that, or better yet… someone stranded on their rooftop in New Orleans.

  9. “but you have admit that along with that the reason that hard work has been so wasted is because security and planning simply wasn’t up to snuff.”

    “send in as many troops as the US Military and State Department recommended!!”

    You are a couple of years out of date IMO. The time for more troops has passed. The Iraqis don’t want more American troops there. They want us to train an Iraqi army who will “build there own nation”. MOre troops most analysts say aren’t the answer at this point.

    Yes, I agree we didn’t plan for the correct outcome after the regime fell in Iraq. Admitted, true, your right, correct, mea culpa, we miscalculated, we had murky crystal balls, we goofed, we missed the mark…now can we look at the present and the future? Now that all and sundry can see that the aftermath of the war was poorly planned for and not foreseen by the neo-con stooges?

    The question under debate, I believe, is do the Iraqis have, at this point, basic services? I have read nothing in the past year or so to indicate that they are not receiving adequate food, water and housing. I’m sure there are some in need but not 100,000s of people. Their electricity gets cut off regularly, I read and of course it’s dangerous in Baghdad particularly. The Kurds are doing fine and the Southern Shia are as well. The Sunni live amidst daily violence and the whole country is unstable politically.

    “the point is that, if the US concentrated LESS on fighting the insurgency and MORE on providing the security to the people who are working to restore basic services (ie. Massive security presence guarding all basic services), THEN people would start to be able to lead normal lives…. THEN the insurgency would go away, for good.”

    Your suggestion is not logical IMO. The insurgents are interrupting normal life in Iraq. The violence is the problem. They have food water and housing (basic services) and some medical services. One Iraqi blogger is a dentist for Pete’s sake. If it were chaos like N’Awlins is right now, nobody would be practicing dentistry. What Iraqis lack is security, safety and confidence that they will live to see another day. When they have it, when the insurgency is defeated “THEN people would start to be able to lead normal lives….”

    Anyway, back in N’Awlins, the military is now there and will continue to grow in numbers. They will be under the authority of State and local governments, this is not marial law – the army will not be in control. However, some thugs roaming the streets are in for some heavy weather in the days to come. These lawless bastards packing guns to commandeer vehicles and anything else they want are in for some surprises. even as I post this.

  10. The United States in Iraq is probably no longer in a position to do what it should have done two years ago, ie. flood the country with troops. Our plan now is to help the Iraqis do this but it will be another year at least before Iraqi troops are sufficient in number to begin to secure the country themselves. And this can only happen if the major population groups agree to belong to a common state, something that right now looks very uncertain. Most of Iraq is better off now than it was under Saddam Hussein. Whether it stays that way is the question.

    The New Orleans area and the Mississippi Gulf coast reflect disaster planning that was clearly inadequate. Federal and state authorities seem to be horribly dilatory in mobilizing large numbers of troops from all over the country and getting them on the scene to rescue people and restore civil order. Of course, a lot may be happening that simply isn’t being reported. We are still only talking about a few days and the situation may be under greater control by next week. But I wonder if a better analogy is with 9/11, not Iraq. The last few days have resembled 9/11 in showing every sign of a government caught off guard and struggling to adapt to an unprecedented situation.

    There may be an opportunity that comes out of this tragedy. As a nation we are simply not prepared for emergencies on this scale. If we could find the will to make ourselves prepared and to achieve energy independence, I can’t help but think that a new and more general attitude of seriousness would begin to penetrate government and society and make our foreign as well as domestic policy more carefully thought-out and more effective.

  11. Here’s a link supporting the “not prepared” observation from David.

    http://www.principal.com/marketnews/news_template.htm?story=20050902/200509022001articlepredictedNewOrleansflood.xml

    and another with a ray of hope:

    http://www.principal.com/marketnews/news_template.htm?story=20050902/PIC20050902NewOrleansfightsbackfromnearanarchy.xml

    I think that a major contribution to the state of anarchy these past few days is the fact that there have been no communication services at all. These relief and rescue groups have been unable to keep in contact. Coordination of activities has been almost zero and that means resources have not been used effectively. Further, the main effort for several days has been to rescue stranded flood victims and to evacuate the hospitals. The people at the superdome have been about 3rd on the list of priorities as far as I can see. Wednesday and Thursday they became increasingly desperate. The scenes there are pretty horrific but at least they are not in danger of drowning.

  12. “Yes, I agree we didn’t plan for the correct outcome after the regime fell in Iraq. Admitted, true, your right, correct, mea culpa…”

    Thank you Jane, I wish others who shared your views were also so willing to say that. I admit it frustrates me to no end.

    The situation as it stands currently in Iraq is as you say… the time for more foreign troops probably has passed but I still wish the US Administration would swallow its’ pride and go about setting up a true multinational effort to stabilise and help Iraq, as is happening in Afghanistan. At least then it wouldn’t just be the US left with the burden.

    As for New Orleans, I’m actually far more lenient on the situation. My wife actually is less forgiving than me when it comes to the state of the rescue operations so far… that is quite unusual I assure you. 🙂

    It is clear that the US was unprepared for such a catastrophe… but then, I see it as human nature to be unprepared for the unimaginable and react rather than be proactive. Yes, the Gulf Coast should have probably taken a note or two from the Netherlands before last week, but it’s too late for that now.

    What I think will be the real crisis in all this is the ongoing refugee situation… there are 100s of 1000s of refugees and no place to put them.

    It’s time people start opening their doors and welcoming some of these people in. There is no reason for them to wallow in filth in an overrun stadium or two or three. And I can’t see them setting up massive refugee camps in the Midwest with winter approaching.

    Why haven’t there been calls for people to take some of these poor displaced people in?

  13. Chris,

    “I still wish the US Administration would swallow its’ pride and go about setting up a true multinational effort to stabilise and help Iraq, as is happening in Afghanistan.”

    I haven’t heard Canada or other NATO allies complaining that they would be eager to send troops to Iraq if only such troops would be under multinational control. The US would be happy to transfer military responsibility in Iraq to NATO as in Afghanistan and I believe we have offered to do so.

    Your complaint would have been valid in June 2003, when we brushed aside calls for placing Iraq under UN control. But as far as today is concerned, if America offered to transfer responsibility for Iraq to a NATO force, would Canada then send troops to Iraq?

    I don’t think it is fair to fault the United States for arrogance today if US humility would also fail to induce key allies to send troops. But I also think this is water under the bridge. More foreign troops really aren’t needed. The Germans and others are training Iraqi police outside the country and the proper role for outsiders now is to help the Iraqis take over security for themselves.

  14. I’m in agreement with David and also finding some common ground with you, Chris. (Ooooo scary!! )

    Please explain to Tee that without communication, relief is not very effective. The emergency teams in there at the first opportunity were focused on reaching those in danger of drowning. They were out in boats searching for live people on roof tops and hanging from tree limbs. They were also focused on evacuating and tending to the sick in the hospitals. The people in shelter at the Superdome were at least not in immediate danger, although many are very young or very elderly with special needs. Many, many people were actually rescued and may still be rescued.

    The Superdome situation became increasingly desperate within two or three days after the storm. Those refugees’ needs increase with each passing day – little children with no water and no fresh diapers, the elderly who need medicine and water just as desperately. I’m now satisfied that there has been a break-through as I saw hundreds of yellow school buses in a parade to the super dome. Help is there now. The Astrodome is full so 25000 people have been evacuated as of late yesterday. Actually I think the response to Katrina is similar to the tsunami at Christmas as far as the early frustrations and the seemingly slow response. To victims three days without respite is a lifetime. But you just don’t mobilize in 15 minutes.

    Anyway longterm, New Orleans will remain a challange and will take a huge determination to ever get it back to a real community again. I think it will happen but on a much smaller scale.

  15. As David says:

    “There may be an opportunity that comes out of this tragedy. As a nation we are simply not prepared for emergencies on this scale. If we could find the will to make ourselves prepared and to achieve energy independence, I can’t help but think that a new and more general attitude of seriousness would begin to penetrate government and society and make our foreign as well as domestic policy more carefully thought-out and more effective.”

    We are not prepared for huge disasters. Amen to that! I liken ours to a “state of denial” when it comes to investing the resources needed to counter the worst possible case of destruction in our own country. It really frustrates me and I blame politicians who have been ignoring these possiblities for about a century. Perhaps we are so unprepared due to our federalists mentality. It is difficult to marshall all the strength needed to avoid or recover from disasters when it is seen usually as a problem for a particular state government and not a country-wide danger. Unfortunately we about to see the impact of this huge problem on the country in the wake of the port of New Orleans and the refineries shut down for who knows how long. The Midwest is dependent on the port for our ability to trade our goods around the world. Our commodaties travel most of the way down the mississippi and out to sea. Plus the refineries impact on fuel prices will be a grave danger to our current economic growth. Yes it is a national disaster, not a Louisiana disaster.

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