Monday, September 05, 2005

Katrina - A Political Forecast

The rain falls like tears tonight as the last survivors of Katrina are plucked from their living death, emaciated, shaken to the core... the revolution has begun. The question in their eyes is 'if our government can leave us like this, what allegiance do we owe it?'.

A question more shocking in its clarity in the US than it would be in Australia where allegiance is only required of immigrants, non-allegiance is a birth right.

It's a question that is being asked by the allies of the US as well. Although only dear old Victor Chavez in Venezuela was game enough to be critical of the US government - before he offered help. You can bet your bottom dollar that there's been lots of late night meetings in the corridors of power in Canberra, reassessing their reassessments of US power 'n influence.

What matters is how the politics of the situation is played out. Worst case scenario, right at the moment has gotta be race riots, although the weather for one is against it and the race issue is really a bit of a sidetrack.

The problem is that people's welfare was a poor second to the war in Iraq. The director of FEMA, who's already the chief scapegoat, was in charge of emergency responses for the whole country not just the black bits. Authoritarian administrations usually succumb to some fatal hubris, Nero fiddled and Bush played golf. It's not just the director of FEMA whose days are numbered.

In the current situation, it's difficult to see anyone countenancing Cheney or Rumsfield as the next President but they are the next in line if Bush is impeached. The alternative is for Congress and the House of Represetatives to take control of the Executive in some way. Since neither of these possibilities seems likely, the only other alternative will be on the streets. The only way that the street can be restrained at a time like this is if a full accounting of the circumstances surrounding the cyclone and it's aftermath is given.

I hope that someone in the US legislature realizes that an enquiry needs to be held not just to determine blame but to ensure that the truth is told and that the victims can attest to their own pain and suffering. As well as the stories of horror and despair, there will come also the stories of heroism and self sacrifice, freed from jingoism of patriotism and the TV news. Then people will realize that there are shades of grey in amongst the black and the white.

All one can say at the moment is that the US has reached one of those fluid moments in history where it's course is going to change. This dream is over.
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