Fwd: +Mark Steyn on "Katrina"+

John blueoval at 1SMARTISP.NET
Wed Sep 7 10:38:10 MDT 2005

 Mark Steyn
Proof that nothing changed after Sept. 11

September 4, 2005


In the Atlantic Monthly a few years back, Robert D. Kaplan went to 
Liberia, Sierra Leone, and other failed jurisdictions of West 
Africa and concluded that many of the "citizens" of these 
"states," roaming the streets raping and killing, belonged to a 
phenomenon called "re-primitivized man."

Anyone watching TV in recent days will have seen plenty of 
"re-primitivized man," not in Liberia or Somalia, but in 
Louisiana. Cops smasing the Wal-Mart cabinet so they can get their 
share of the booty along with the rest of the looters, gangs 
firing on a children's hospital and on rescue helicopters, 
hurricane victims being raped in the New Orleans Convention 
Center....If you're minded, as many of the world's anti-Americans 
are, to regard the United States as a depraved swamp, it was a 
grand old week: Mother Nature delivered the swamp, but plenty of 
natives supplies the depravity.

Not all of them, of course. But it doesn't really matter if it's 
only 5 percent or 2 percent or 0.01 percent if everybody else is 
giving them free rein. Not exactly the most impressive law 
enforcement agency even on a good day, the New Orleans Police 
Department sent along some 80 officers to rescue the rape victims 
trapped in the Convention Center, but were beaten back by a mob.

Meanwhile, the ever more pitiful governor was, unlike many of her 
fellow Louisianans, safe on dry land but still floundering way out 
of her depth, unable to stand up to the lawlessness even 
rhetorically or to communicate anything other than emotive 

With most disasters, it's a good rule to let the rescue teams do 
their work and leave the sniping till folks are safe. But in New 
Orleans last week the emergency work has been seriously hampered 
by actual literal sniping, as at that hospital. The authorities 
lost control of the streets. Which one of Tom Ridge's Homeland 
Security color codes does that fall under?

After Sept. 11, many people who should have known better argued 
that it was somehow a vindication of government.

"One of the things that's changed so much since Sept. 11," agreed 
Vice President Dick Cheney, "is the extent to which people do 
trust the government -- big shift -- and value it, and have high 
expectations for what we can do."

Hard to see why he'd say that. Sept. 11 was an appalling 
comprehensive failure of just about every relevant federal agency. 
The only government that worked that day was local and state: The 
great defining image, redeeming American honor at a moment of 
national hjumiliation, is those brave New York firemen pounding up 
the stairs of the  World Trade Center. What consolations can be 
drawn from the lopsided tango between slapdash bureaucrats and 
subhuman predators in New Orleans?

To be fair, next door, Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi has been 
the Guiliani of the hour, and there are many tales of great 
courage, like the teams from the Children's Hospital of Alabama 
who've been helicoptering into New Orleans to rescue newborn 

The comparison with Sept. 11 isn't exact, but it's fair to this 
extent: Katrina was the biggest disaster on American soil since 
that day provoked the total overhaul of the system and the 
devotion of billions of dollars and the finest minds in the nation 
to the prioritizing of homeland security. It was, thus, the first 
major test of the post-9/11 structures. Happy with the results?

Muhammad Yousef Al-Mlaifi, director of the Kuwaiti Ministry of 
Endowment (and no, I've no idea what that means, though feel free 
to do your own jokes), wrote a hurricane essay arguing the novel 
line that "The Terrorist Katrina Is A Soldier Of Allah." You could 
sort of see his point. Imagine if al-Qaida were less boneheaded 
and had troubled themselves to learn a bit more about the Great 
Satan's weak spots. Imagine if they'd decided to blow up a couple 
of levees and flood a great American city. Would local and state 
government have responded any more effectively than they did last 
week? After all, Katrina, unlike Osama, let 'em know she was 
heading their way.

The nation's taxpayers will now be asked to rebuild New Orleans. 
The rationale for doing so is that it is a great city of national 
significance. Fine. But, if it's of national significance, what 
have all the homeland security task forces been doing these last 
four years? Why is the defense of the city still left to a system 
of levees each with its own individual administrative regime? If 
it's of national significance, why did the porkmeisters of the 
national legislature and national executive branch slash a request 
by the Army Corps of Engineers for $105 million for additional 
flood protection measures there down to just over $40 million, at 
the same time they approved a $230 million bridge to an 
uninhabited Alaskan island? Given that the transport 
infrastructure's already in place, maybe it makes more sense to 
rebuild New Orleans in Alaska.

One thing that became clear two or three months after "the day 
that everything changed" is that nothing changed -- that huge 
swathes of the political culture in America remain committed to a 
bargain that stiffs the people at every level, a system of lavish 
funding of pseudo-action. You could have done as the anti-war left 
wanted and re-allocated every dollar spent in Iraq to Louisiana. 
Or you could have done as some of the rest of us want and 
re-allocated every buck spent on, say, subsidizing Ted Turner's 
and Sam Donaldson's play-farming activities. But, in either case, 
I'lll bet Louisiana's kleptocrat public service would have 
pocketed the dough and carried on as usual -- and, come the big 
day, the state would still have flopped out, and New Orleans' 
foul-mouthed mayor would still be ranting about why it was all 
everybody's else's fault.

Those levee's broke, they failed. And you think about Chicago and 
San Francisco and Boston and you wonder what's waiting to fail 
there. The assumption was that after 9/11, big towns and small 
took stock and identified their weak points. That's what they told 
us they were doing, and that's what they were getting big tax 
bucks to do. But in New Orleans no one had a plan that addressed 
levee failure, and no one had a plan for the large percentage of 
vehicleless citizens who'd be unable to evacuate, and no one had a 
plan to deal with widespread looting. Given that all these local 
factors are widely known - New Orleans is a below-sea-level city 
with high crime and a low rate of automobile ownership -- it makes 
you wonder how the city would cope with something truly surprising 
-- like, say, a biological attack.

Oh, well, maybe the 9-11 commission can rename themselves the 
Katrina Kommission. Back in the real world, America's enemies will 
draw many uselful lessons from the events of this last week. Will 

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