Friday, March 03, 2006

Political Sushi

This week I have been attempting to write a post, but I kept waiting...not sure for what...

Two political issues are dominating my mind recently. Both are severe indicators of our government's ineptitude: the resurfacing of hurricane Katrina, and the continued Civil War talk in Iraq...

The Civil War talk is a greater indicator of our cockiness as a nation-building entity. Not only do we get to come in, knock out your old regime, design your new regime, and standby while you get things started, but we get to tell your country whether or not you're actually having a legitimate fight over your own country.

While governmental officials, cable news pundits, and just about everyone else, all deny that Iraq is going through the motions of a Civil War, Iraqis on the street are actually fighting for their liberty. Whether or not this violence is sectarian misses the point. The point is that the United States can't actually bring itself to admit that a Civil War in Iraq might actually be a realistic indicator of the country's democratic outlook.

A bothersome aspect of these anti-Civil War talks is the ignorance that Americans are revealing about their own nation. Here we are, a nation that has spent more time struggling and in-fighting than ruling a settled government, approximately 150 years removed from a brutal Civil War, and hardly even 40 years removed from an equally brutal Civil Rights fight. And we have the nerve to criticize Iraqis for fighting for their country?

We might not understand the reasons they are fighting, which is understandable. It is THEIR nation, not ours. But, I suppose as nation-builder, we get to verify whether or not they get to have a civil war. Perhaps because their nation is not yet a functioning democracy, operating apart from an intrusive external ruling hand, the Iraqis really aren't having a Civil War because they do not yet have their own, truthful, community or civil society...

The Katrina issue confounds me. Where I feel a vitality when I think about the fighting in Iraq, a real concern that Iraqis can fight for what they feel is worth fighting for, I feel grand confusion thinking about Katrina.

How does our government get away with such ineptitude?

The leader of our country assures state leaders that the federal government is prepared. WRONG. The leader of the state of Louisiana purportedly trusts the levees. WRONG. Recently, it has also been reported that an internal argument within Red Cross involving the allocation of funds (a repeat problem they faced in 2001 after September 11) has slowed their organization's response capabilities. Public bureaucracy, private bureaucracy, it's all the same...

And yet, part of me can't help but think that the government didn't actually care about what happened to the poor souls at the Superdome, the poor souls abandoned by their own city (what's this deal about city buses available to take the poor out of the city that were not used?), their state, and their country (who really never cared about them anyhow): since when has liberalism cared about those without estate?

Life, liberty, and estate has great benefits: but should one reverse the equation, one will find that those without estate receive no liberty, and thus have no life beneath the state.

Can anyone prove to me otherwise, that our elected representatives, in all of our liberal institutions, actually, legitimately, cared about the fate of these poor, stranded souls? President Bush is a terriblly incompassionate conservative; why didn't he make his confidence about responses to the Hurricane, the day before it struck, known to all those people at the Dome? Why did the governor of Louisiana instill confidence in the levees?

Why was it that the only persons that knew that the levees would break and that disaster would ensue weren't in a position to do anything?


Anonymous Vinnie said...

Another excellent post...To me, the Katrina situation really underscores that broader problem of politicians, even principled ones, seeking out and interpreting facts in such a way that will reaffirm their preconceived feelings rather than seeking out a more complete understanding of the situation. This is especially prevalent and dire, it seems, in a situation where more acute knowledge and analysis is required (i.e. a complex scientific issue). Though I know this is an obvious criticism, the issue strikes a nerve with me being an environmental engineer and knowing that I will likely face this frustration often in my future career.

8:25 PM  
Blogger Nick Z. said...

Thanks for the comment, Vinnie. I think you're right about politicians in your comments.

I wonder, though, why it is so difficult to say things such as, "look, citizens, we're completely unprepared" power such a valuable entity to hang onto that politicians would rather keep their position of strength, than admit that they don't, in fact, have many of the answers or abilities to help their constituents?

7:28 AM  

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