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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

No connection at all. No, really

"Relief efforts to combat Hurricane Katrina suffered near catastrophic failures due to endemic corruption, divisions within the military and troop shortages caused by the Iraq war, an official American inquiry into the disaster has revealed.

"The confidential report, which has been seen by The Independent, details how funds for flood control were diverted to other projects, desperately needed National Guards were stuck in Iraq and how military personnel had to 'sneak off post' to help with relief efforts because their commander had refused permission."

The Independent, October 3

America is a superpower little suited to effective multitasking.

19 Comments:

Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

All the talk of "small government" and efficiency is looking a bit silly, really. Especially if you compare the response to Katrina to the massive campaigns in Indonesia and China to deal with natural disasters and disease outbreaks.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 11:01:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Read this, geniuses.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 4:43:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

And dirtbikeoption : that's perhaps the dumbest thing I've ever seen you write.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 4:49:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Ouch.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 5:47:00 pm  
Blogger joe2 said...

In the washup, check google, and "dangerous dolphins loose after katrina". Suppose this is a nonsense. A link to Guardian provided , there. Was this where funds were spent instead of levys?

Dirtbikeoption I support your say.
Why do people attack the individual
rather than the say?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 7:08:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Joe2, playing the man is easier. It's a common tactic (if you can call it that) among those who log in to ridicule Antony's views. Water off a duck's back.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 9:04:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

James, I have just finished reading this week's Economist, which features an article on the rifts and contradictions within the conservative movement in the US. One of the contradictions identified is the conflict between big government and small government advocates. Bush Jnr has fallen into the former category (spending on Medicare and education programs, and I'd say war as well) while attempting to pander to the latter (by cutting taxes and talking the small government talk).

This "small government" debate is a widely acknowledged challenge to neo-cons. So I guess that isn't the bit that you think is dumb.

So what is dumb about my suggestion, James? Is it unfair (sorry, dumb) to compare the poor emergency response to Katrina with the effective state response to massive flooding in China earlier this year? Or to suggest that there is a stark contrast between concern for the poor in an advanced capitalist nation and the massive polio immunisation drive carried out across thousands of islands in an emerging/developing nation?

Show me how this is dumb, then we can discuss.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 9:31:00 am  
Blogger Glenn Condell said...

'Why do people attack the individual rather than the say?'

Because it's all they have left Joe. And their natures find abuse easier than analysis.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 3:18:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 8:50:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 9:05:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Sorry about deleted posts - just edited out a tautology.

dirtbikeoption : I read the same article. And I fall into the small government supporting category. Your comment was dumb for the following reasons:

1) To say the Katrina and its aftermath was a failure of small government is ridiculous. The total amount of government in the USA at present clearly is not worthy of the term "small government". Despite what you may believe, I'm not much of a fan of GWB - although I tend to go into bat for him when the idiotarians start frothing at the mouth every time he exhales - mainly because blatant stupidity irritates me.
2) You fail to understand the strong federal system of the USA. I suggest you read the blog post I linked to above for a more comprehensive discussion on the matter.
3) Big government intervention clearly doesn't automatically lead to good results, and for every "pro" example you provide I can hit you with a counter-example. Take France, one of the biggest governments in the world. You'd think they'd be well prepared for natural disasters, right? So how many died in the *heatwave* (not exactly the most intimidating of natural disasters) of 2003? I think the figure was 13 000. And we're talking mid-thirties temperatures, here. As for your China example, I simply don't believe you know enough about the government reaction to the flooding or the damage the flooding caused to make a comment about its effectiveness. It's not your fault about that, however I'm a little surprised at your naivety for quoting such an example. As someone who's travelled extensively through China and have some first hand understanding of how the Chinese system works, I can unequivocally state that what we see on the news about China is carefully filtered by the Ministry of Truth before it leaves the Middle Kingdom. Especially in regards to something like a natural disaster. As for Indonesia, you'll find it has a considerably smaller government than the USA. However, considering this fact is not really helpful, as some American states are considerably better organised than others. Hey, same in Indonesia. I bet a disaster relief programme on Java would be considerably better run than one on Irian Jaya, for example. And an immunisation programme is hardly analagous to a massive flood relief effort. Even the Louisiana authorities could organise an effective immunisation drive. How did Indonesia cope with the tsunami? Your examples don't stack up, sorry.

The major reason why I think your comment was dumb is down to your assertion that small government inefficiency caused the poor relief effort in Louisiana. This is patently false. Bad government caused the problems in Louisiana, and Louisiana's state government is one of the worst in the USA. Your initial comment was dumb because it stank of an ill-informed knee jerk reaction about the country you guys love to hate - the Great Satan USA. Ditto Loewenstein's obtuse assertion that "America is a superpower little suited to effective multitasking", and it shows complete ignorance of every facet of the country. Especially considering that, out of the nations, the USA is history's most effective multitasker. Still, ignorance of the subject in question has never stopped him making a silly remark before. It's also what I expect from the regular patrons of this blog.

And as for your catty "playing the man" remark - whatever. I've tried before to argue with you guys. If I play the man, so be it. I get sick of you and others blithely announcing some ill-fitting jumble of ideas that collapses from the most timid prod. Eventually, I read it and just react. However, if requested, I am willing to elaborate. As I have done here.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 9:33:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Sorry, James. I am not blaming the post-hurricane problems on small government, nor on Bush Jnr. I am simply suggesting that talk of reducing the size of government is simply another neo-con fetish which seems quite at odds with reality - namely, that size (at least when it comes to government) doesn't matter. A small government can be just as corrupt as a large one - and problems like lack of cash, corruption, infighting, military adventurism, etc are far more important than debating the size of the government.

As far as China and Indonesia go, I was attempting to contrast massive (that is, large-scale) post-disaster operations undertaken in the South in order to highlight the fact that the world's only superpower faces very serious problems within its own government, in terms both of culture and organisational structure. I'd say that China demonstrated more concern for the poor than the US did, and Indonesia acted on a far larger scale than the US did. So why is a superpower - with unquestioned economic power and political clout - singularly unimpressive under similar conditions? Surely the first world should do a better - and more humane - job than the third world?

The "but France let people die in the heat wave" argument is well-worn. And if you wish to prove that big government doesn't save lives then that will likely be a good case study. But I am not suggesting that. And I was equally shocked by the inability of France to respond to that crisis given its status as a modern late-industrial nation. Perhaps we even agree on this.

For the record: I do not despise the United States, nor am I ignorant of its political history or governmental system. Your suggestion that I read your blog in order to better understand the US is ridiculous and patronising.

Finally, if you found my "playing the man" comment offensive, then hold off on the "dumb" and "stupid" bits. Shit, imagine if I had called you a fuckwit.

Oh, no need to elaborate. If I need further long-winded enlightenment, I'll visit your blog.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 10:03:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Okay. Here's your initial comment:

All the talk of "small government" and efficiency is looking a bit silly, really. Especially if you compare the response to Katrina [snip!]

Which in the context of the subject matter of Antony's original post, is clearly a direct criticism of small government. And all your talk of neocons would suggest an indirect attack at Bush. To say "I am not blaming the post-hurricane problems on small government" for the reasons you outlined is just shifting the goalposts. Sorry, I'm not buying it. If, by your original comment, you actually meant what you were going on about in the post prior to this one, then you need to improve your written communication skills.

So why is a superpower - with unquestioned economic power and political clout - singularly unimpressive under similar conditions?

Like I said to you before, read my blog article. That provides a very direct answer to your question. If you aren't going to read it, please stop asking the question. I don't see why I should repeat myself. The reason why Katrina was so remarkable was due to the fact that that kind of thing simply doesn't happen in the USA - or any other developed nation. If the kind of shoddy planning was par for the course when a natural disaster comes around, then do you think there'd be all this soul searching? No. So when you say the world's only superpower faces very serious problems within its own government, in terms both of culture and organisational structure., you're partially correct. Louisiana faces very serious problems within its government, in terms of culture and organisational structure. The USA as a whole faces problems. Like pretty much every other country in the world.

I'd say that China demonstrated more concern for the poor than the US did, and Indonesia acted on a far larger scale than the US did.

Well, I'd assert that you don't know what you're talking about - for the reasons I mentioned in my post directly above. But that's neither here nor there. What motivates you to piss into the wind - merely to have a dig at the States - is what interests me, because it bolsters my assertion that your reaction was kneejerk. You have failed to deal with the point I made regarding you not comparing apples with apples. Do you seriously think an immunisation drive is analagous to a Katrina-like event? And, since you think Indonesia is so praiseworthy, perhaps you'd like to comment on their tsunami relief efforts. You overlooked that one from my last post, too.

Finally, if you found my "playing the man" comment offensive, then hold off on the "dumb" and "stupid" bits. Shit, imagine if I had called you a fuckwit.

I didn't find it offensive in the slightest - but it was catty. Re. "dumb" and "stupid" - I calls it hows I sees it. If you had have called me a fuckwit I probably wouldn't have noticed, let alone cared.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 11:07:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Whoops! What do you know, further evidence of New Orleans local government incompetence...

But I'm sure it's still somehow Bush's fault.

Thursday, October 06, 2005 2:20:00 am  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

James, you are still reading far too much into my initial couple of sentences. I clicked the button that said "comment", not "fucking patronising essay". Anyway, by way of quick repsonse I shall attempt brevity.

In light of current problems in the US - cronyism, incompetence, intra-party bickering - "talk of 'small government'" looks silly, and diversionary. And contrasted with other countries - poorly equipped by comparison - the US has responded inadequately to a natural disaster. Simple.

I can hear your points loud and clear. If you still cannot see mine (or refuse to), then we should agree to disagree.

I for one don't have the time for another lengthy rebuttal of your comment. And given your desire to disagree verbosely with anyone who comments on Loewenstein's blog, surely you would concur that a further stoush would only take us round in circles and waste time for both of us.

Thursday, October 06, 2005 8:00:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

I can see your points, it's just that they weren't the points you were making at the start. And your comparisons with China and Indonesia have been shown up as sham. So I suppose you're right; there's not much more to say.

Thursday, October 06, 2005 9:05:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

If you reckon, James. A pity we do not share classes.

Thursday, October 06, 2005 10:12:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Friday, October 07, 2005 11:31:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Perhaps. Although I am somewhat of a heretic in most of my classes. Usually I keep quiet in tutes, unless I'm feeling a tad combatative. I usually can't be bothered having to take on allcomers, which is the inevitable outcome. Anyway, today discussion was on public policy regarding welfare. I stayed silent for half an hour, until I was asked my opinion of the welfare state. I announced that I believe we should gradually dismantle dismantle it. Of course, such a remark resulted in half an hour of swatting collectivists - including the tutor. Fun. Point is, if we were in class you'd have to wait your turn.

Friday, October 07, 2005 11:37:00 pm  

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