P. Edronkin

Cleaning Up After Hurricane Katrina

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There is a lot of talk about what went wrong with hurricane Katrina and the destruction of New Orleans; certainly, FEMA and the U.S. government at the political level miscalculated and failed completely, yet, no one seems to concentrate in two very important issues:

One is that of the future of the survivors. What will happen to them? Being lifted to helicopters is fine, but their lives have been destroyed, and something should be done about that. Once the immediate dangers and problems of survival are solved, long-term issues arise, but seems that the government of the United States is more akin to spend the public money in 'major offensives' in Iraq and free-trade agreements with Latin American countries that don't want them at all.

And the second issue is that of climate change: meteorologists around the world are saying that there is enough data to transform the simple hypothesis of global warming into a firm theory. And from here, two questions should be asked:

First of all, was Katrina a consequence of global warming or just an abnormally strong hurricane?

And secondly, will this happen again? Because if the first question is answered positively, the implications for the second one are obvious and immediate: the situation will get worse and we will have more and stronger hurricanes, tornadoes and extreme weather developments coming.

There are political decisions to be made, and the U.S. president coming after Mr. Bush will have a lot to do: the war in Iraq while not lost already, has not been won and after all, if the mightiest army cannot control a bunch of angry fellows wearing sandals, perhaps we should say that things are out of control there; history tells that wars that cannot be won, one day will lead to defeat, even if it is just because the public may get fed-up with the whole business. So the next U.S. president will either have to win it at the last minute, or accept defeat, unless Mr. Bush performs some miracle.

And then, there is that perky climate change issue: indeed, 'the economy' might suffer the consequences derived from fulfilling obligations related to the Kyoto Protocol, but so it does when the country does not fulfill them, tinkers with the environment and nature then reminds everyone who is the boss in town by sending things like hurricane Katrina.

Mr. Bush has made many gross mistakes: under his watch, the United States was grievously attacked by Al-Qaida, then Iraq was attacked pre-emptively much like Pearl Harbour, in the view of the Japanese, and for quite unclear reasons. Hundreds of people got detained in connection to alleged terrorist plots, but members of the Bin Laden family could easily and legally get out of the country only a few days after the attacks on New York and Washington. Under his watch, Columbia was destroyed, and that had to do with political decisions as well, the country was left with no allies, there are CIA scandals here and there, and companies receive special treatment as contractors in Iraq. The list of shortcomings, failures and dark spots in the record is too long to mention.

The next president of the United States will have a lot of cleanup to do, in Iraq, in Louisiana, and if things continue this present course, in other places as well.

People around the world are thinking that the U.S. is now a liability more than a leader. If the United States still wants to have a leading role in the world, it better become more credible, again.

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