5
Sep
2005

Katrina makes a mockery of American Exceptionalism

The US is now seen in a new light, not much different than Bangladesh, Sudan, Ethiopia, or Haiti as just another place where horrific natural disasters occur. The US has always believed itself above these things, an exception to the global rule. Hence American Exceptionalism: the doctrine that gives us the right to have all the nuclear bombs it wants, a military as large as the next 32 countries combined, and the authority to dicate terms to any country that lacks 'superpower' status. Katrina puts this fragile exceptionalism in a new light because it contrasts imperial ambitions with a shameful disregard for the welfare of its citizens in dire need.

It becomes all too apparent that the neo-con's foreign adventurism has come at the expense of domestic needs. Witness the social blights of American cities, vast pockets of poverty, New Orleans being a good example. No neocon has ever proposed a plan to boost the morale and economny of these blighted areas. The gang of Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith, Kristol, Krauthammer, and Rumsfeld were too busy restructuring the Middle East or preventing new countries from becoming nuclear to care for blighted American cities. Such places were theoretically not supposed to exist, and if they did, it wasn't a matter that concered the federal government.

It is incredible how few people are standing up and taking responsibility for the inadequate rescue response. The federal government is claiming they responded within the normal time frame of up to 96 hours. State and local authorities are expected to manage the first 96 hours, apparently. But with a disaster of this magnitude, only the federal government could have moved enough people and supplies to make a difference. This is what federal governments are for. Unfortunately the leadership is more interested in jockying for an ever more dominant position in this New American Century.

The terrorist boogeyman has taken hold of the American psyche and will not let go. Ever since that band of 20 terrorists struck on 911, the US has been whipped into a frenzy of fear, shifting its resources into homeland security, much of it going into expensive privatized contracts to the tune of hundreds of billions. Agencies like FEMA, before they were castrated, knew that huricanes struck every year and were the first order of business. Neocon politicians in charge were busy putting terrorism to use by using it to justify their New American Century. The people have been duped utterly in one of history's most tragic deceptions. Even moreso now, we are falling into the pattern that destroyed ancient Athens, that of a demagogue leading the people into needless and costly foreign adventure, ending in total ruin and defeat.

If terrorists were a true threat warranting the lion's share of our defense budget, then why hasn't another band of 20 taken to poisoning our reservoirs, booby trapping our shopping malls, setting our national forests on fire? Because they are a boogeyman threat and do not exist in serious numbers. We need to listen to the terrorists to understand them. We don't have to agree with them. We need to defuse their anger by striving for a common justice. They are people who believe they are practicing their version of homeland security. When their fear looks into our fear and sees its own reflection, somebody better call Houston and tell them we have 'a problem.'

Hugo Chavez believes the US is the biggest menace to the world today. The US global hegemony simply inspires fear in other countries, and this in itself is dangerous. The best possible defense for the US is to practice goodwill and respect for all nations, large and small. It is also the cheapest defense, proven to build allies not enemies. It may not be as exciting as ruling the entire world but it is safer for the planet.

Bush's words upon landing on Louisiana soil were full of the buzzwords his advisors told him to stress, and his kissing of two black women was just what the spin doctor oredered, but I noticed his words lacked any spiritual depth, any deep sympathy or understanding with the victims. George exhibited his usual pinhead consciousness, slightly perterbed, smirky and vindictive. He has been called a 'dry drunk' by one reporter lately and I've not seen a better term applied to him. As a former drunk he seems still under the gravitational influence of alchohol even though he supposedly quit years ago.

In fairness, there were plenty of experts during Clinton's administration that called for immediate action to reconfigure the levies of New Orleans before tens of thousands drowned. Bush simply continued the pattern by doing things like appointing a lawyer as head of FEMA, then trimming its budget 40%, etc. And the local government of New Orleans surely could have tried harder to evacuate the carless population. They should have known not to wait for FEMA.

But most of all, the people will see that American exceptionalism and the neocon plan to make the entire world its business has been nothing but 'imperial overstretch,' and the administration's concern for the welfare of its own citizens woefully lacking.

May God help the remaining people of New Orleans, and the United States of America.

John
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