When Katrina Becomes Our Baghdad
by Douglas Herman
Who knew wind and water could pack a Pentagon-like punch? America'or at least four southern states'suffered a Biblical bombardment, leaving a landscape swept clean. Call it shock & awe, Southern-style. Or as I prefer: call it sound and fury signifying nothing'and everything. Pat Robertson might call it an Act of God. I don't know. Maybe karma comes around and kicks us all in the ass. Maybe a few million, God-fearing, flag-waving Americans spread across four southern states now know what Baghdad has suffered in the last couple of years. No water, no electricity, wrecked homes, stifling heat. Devastation everywhere. 'Hell on earth,' said Chris Matthews looking at the footage in the wake of hurricane Katrina. Hard to look at Biloxi or Baghdad and not feel a great deal of sympathy for both places. But most folks forget, in their patriotic self-absorption, that we brought the devastation on Iraq. Suddenly the shock of being on the receiving end of some equally powerful and devastating force''Hell on earth'--stuns them. The sad irony is that poor people'in Baghdad and Biloxi, in Fallujah and New Orleans--overwhelmingly bear the brunt of both devastations. 'Newscasts were reporting that in a city (New Orleans) whose desperate state is akin to Dacca in Bangladesh a few years ago, there were precisely seven Coast Guard helicopters in operation,' wrote Alexander Cockburn in Counterpunch. 'Where are the National Guard helicopters? Presumably strafing Iraqi citizens on the roads outside Baghdad and Fallujah.' Even sadder is that, while Baghdad will likely suffer additional suffering in the years to come, the Gulf coast will certainly suffer additional hurricane damage in the decades to come. Or even centuries. I should know; I live here in Florida and stood in the wind of Katrina when it breezed through Pompano Beach as a Force One hurricane. I fully expect another couple of kick-ass hurricanes to sweep through in the next month or so. Global warming--critics claim--is caused by burning of fossil fuels. Ironically, the same fossil fuels which we are trying to seize in Iraq. And superstorms'Katrina attained Force 5 in a matter of hours after passing through Florida'are caused by global warming, according to these same critics. Evidently, karma comes around and kicks us all in the ass. By the way, does anyone remember Rumsfeld's peculiar observation, during the fall of Baghdad? He said that democracy was messy, while we watched looters ransack the city on TV. Democracy in action, Rumsfeld called it. Well, why not apply the same standard to New Orleans then? Just a thought.