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Syria Arrests 70 Arabs Attempting to Infiltrate Iraq
Today's Headlines
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Home Front: Politix
Examiner Editorial - Human rights groups mum on Iraq progress
Supporters of democracy in Iraq are being targeted and assassinated by fellow Muslims, while religious and ethnic minorities are being subjected to similar persecution, and women face huge challenges in their uphill struggle for even the most basic rights.

Conditions being what they are, one would think that so-called "rights groups" - such as the National Organization for Women or Human Rights Watch - would be standing in solidarity with the people of Iraq, helping to advance their causes and promote their post-Saddam successes, Now there's a novel concept! especially since Iraq lies in a region where liberties don't exist for many.

That, however, does not seem to be the case. The sole press release regarding Iraqi women's rights put out by NOW is mostly critical of the Bush administration. NOW blames the administration for the fact that the Iraqi draft constitution does not explicitly mention women's rights and raises the proposition that the Bush administration has either "forgotten" its previous commitment to women's rights or even "purposely set it aside." Since NOW is upset they can't seem to control our constitution, I guess they think they should control the Iraqi document.

This despite that Iraqi women are now being encouraged to get an education and represent a quarter of the Iraqi parliament under the new constitution. That's a minimum of 25%, where the actual in the US is 21%, IIRC. Apparently NOW only sees the glass as half-empty. And the glass can never be full with Bush in office.

Groups committed to more general human rights are also silent on any progress being made in Iraq. In a 2005 report by Human Rights Watch, the United States military is accused of war crimes generally, if not wholly, stemming from the treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison and other facilities, including harsh interrogation, exposure to loud music and sleep deprivation.

However, the same group fails to give any serious play to Iraqis' newfound rights to freely assemble, peacefully express opinions against their government and travel.

And the 2005 report on Iraq by Amnesty International is amazingly similar to that of Human Rights Watch. Are we suggesting plagerism, here? Amnesty - which came under serious scrutiny earlier this summer when it was revealed it compared Guantanamo Bay to a Soviet-era gulag - screams about American abuses, but is largely silent on any human rights advances made thanks to the removal of Saddam Hussein. Well, yeah, but that was last week. Whaddaya done this week, eh?

It is disappointing that these groups - which, by and large, do fine work - I suppose the writer would know - apply their charter and mission selectively and fail to support the great successes that have occurred in Iraq following the U.S.-led invasion. Their disapproval of the war in Iraq and by extension the Bush administration (or vice versa) has led to an unfortunate exercise in hypocrisy on behalf at the expense of innocent civilians who would certainly benefit from the added support and exposure these groups could lend them. AI, HRW, and NOW could help in Iraq? Save lives, improve quality of life, encourage growth of the movement, that sort of stuff? What a cryin' shame they don't!

Unfortunately, it appears that taking digs and potshots at the Bush administration outweighs the importance of genuinely advocating the rights of the Iraqi people. Right, there is no highlight missing there. That was the point of the editorial.

The U.S. military is not the foremost violator of human rights in Iraq. Along with other coalition forces, it has facilitated the development of the democratic process in Iraq, freed the Iraqi press, helped in the distribution of medicine and other humanitarian aid, immunized many Iraqi children against common, preventable diseases and much more. They did? I didn't read about it in the Times.

If rights advocacy groups like NOW, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International wish to remain credible, they would do well to focus on - and support - the positive developments from time to time, instead of wasting their political capital on short-sighted objectives.

Posted by: Bobby || 09/02/2005 07:27 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [297 views] Top|| File under:

#1  If rights advocacy groups like NOW, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International wish to remain credible...

Sorry, but the word remain implies that still have some credibility. They don't. So the more appropriate line would be ... If rights advocacy groups like NOW, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International wish to reestablish their credibility...
Posted by: Thinenter Phineque8219 || 09/02/2005 9:09 Comments || Top||

#2  They lost thier credibility(They never had much)with me a long time ago.
Posted by: raptor || 09/02/2005 9:16 Comments || Top||

Old Europe fading from the stage
By Hassan Hanizadeh
Europe’s failure to win the confidence of the Iranian nation as well as the dubious attitude of the old continent to international political issues, particularly Iran’s nuclear dossier, compels Eastern countries to review their political relations with the European Union.
Iran was, of course, under no obligation to win the confidence of Europe...
Over the past four years since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, the U.S. adopted a security attitude toward every single global issue. As a result, the world has experienced more tension than at any time in recent history, with horrific massacres in the Middle East and the West. The bombings in Britain and Spain, the rise in tension in occupied Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and various other terrorist attacks are all the result of the U.S. security attitude in the Middle East.
Either that, or they're a vindication of the American position. It's our opinion that worse would have happened if we had not taken a "security attitude" toward global issues. Europe hasn't, and it's been Europe that's been boomed lately, Europe where there have been ricin plots, and Europe where Islamic heroes have been slaughtering people in the streets.
Unfortunately, Old Europe, to borrow a phrase from U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, has now truly become a tired and old continent. It has failed to formulate a specific strategy to respond to global crises and receives its orders from the other side of the Atlantic.
Not that we've noticed from over here on the other side of the Atlantic. In fact, Europe's determination to take a contrarian attitude toward security affairs has been a sore point.
The European Union’s blind acceptance of the U.S. security policies indicates that the EU has lost its ability to solve problems in the Middle East and is in the last years of its political life.
First, there's been no blind acceptance. Second, Europe's approach to "solving problems" in the Middle East has resulted in the current stagnation and prevalent autocracies.
Europe was once a major player in the Middle East during both the first and second world wars and never allowed the United States to interfere in important political issues, since it regarded the U.S. as a young, inexperienced country with no understanding of the subtleties of geostrategy.
With the exception of Britain, there's no country in Europe that has the same continuity of government as the U.S., and precious few in the world.
Until the international conferences of the 1940s, Europe used to make major political decisions without U.S. meddling. However, the international situation has changed, and now the United States makes global decisions unilaterally, while the European Union is only a tool for the implementation of U.S. policies. French President Jacques Chirac’s recent threat to refer Iran’s nuclear dossier to the United Nations Security Council is further proof of this fact.
Counting on him not to do it, were you?Musta been a disappointment.
Under pressure from both French Zionists and the international Zionist lobby, Chirac is neglecting the interests of France and Europe and only trying to mollify the United States and the Zionist regime.
Do you get the impression the writer's wearing a set of blinders, like a draft horse?
Iran and France, which have had political and cultural relations for centuries, are now drifting apart because the current French government seems to be unable to make its own decisions anymore.
At least unable to make its down decisions to Iran's liking...
Undoubtedly, if France, Germany, and Britain made use of all their abilities to help resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, they could regain their lost political influence in the Middle East. During the past two years, the Islamic Republic of Iran has focused all its efforts on proving its good faith and on gaining the world’s confidence about its nuclear program, but the ever increasing U.S. influence on the decisions of the EU big three has politicized the issue.
Dear Gawd! International politix politicized? That's never happened before...
Eastern nations, and particularly Muslim nations, will certainly never forget the EU’s unfair attitude toward Iran’s nuclear dossier. This will lead to Europe’s political isolation in the Middle East. Iran has now begun implementing its new policy wit the goal of finding new influential friends in the world and this new policy will certainly lead to the formation of a new regional and global bloc which can break the monopoly of the U.S. and the EU. Although Iran’s principled policy, which seeks to peacefully resolve the dispute over its nuclear program, does not challenge the EU, it is a new attitude which can be regarded as a political victory for Iran and a political failure for Europe.
It can also be regarded as a delusion on Iran's part that it's a great power, rather than a cultural backwater with an attitude...
This new attitude will certainly serve as a political model for other developing countries, particularly Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) states and OPEC members, and will enable them to make decisions without EU or U.S. meddling. Ironically, Rumsfeld’s remarks about Europe being an old continent are coming true due to Europe’s wrong decisions.
Posted by: Fred || 09/02/2005 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [459 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Did we dose the Iranian's water supplys with LSD? I think Hassan is taking too much water.
Posted by: Sock Puppet O´ Doom || 09/02/2005 5:44 Comments || Top||

#2  French Zionists? Do you mean the ones fleeing to Isreal and the United States as quickly as they can?
Posted by: Secret Master || 09/02/2005 13:26 Comments || Top||

#3  It's difficult to see clearly thru Zionist-colored glasses.
Posted by: Seafarious || 09/02/2005 13:48 Comments || Top||

#4  When I've had a really bad day people learn really quick not to fuck with me.
The US has had a really bad day. IRAN should FOAD!
Posted by: 3dc || 09/03/2005 0:00 Comments || Top||

Home Front: Culture Wars
One nation, under God
James 2:14-17
What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

Deeds, not words.

"Feed My Lambs" - and they are.

Stand and be counted: The Salvation Army. Catholic Charities. Mennonite Disaster Services. Methodist Relief. Episcopal Relief and Development. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. Samaritan's Purse. Operation Blessing. United Jewish Charities.LDS Humanitarian Services. Lutheran World Relief. Lutheran Disaster Response. Greek Orthodox Disaster Relief. Church World Service. Nazarene Compassionate Ministries. Orthodox Union Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund. The United Methodist Committee on Relief.

The list goes on and on.

Regardless of creed or denomination, the religious character of Americans shows itself as part of the true backbone of America in times like these.

One nation, under God, indeed.
Posted by: Oldspook || 09/02/2005 12:11 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [333 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Except the Atheists and their ACLU allies, who seem mute on this except for preparing lawsuits against public officials for praying, and the Army and National Guard for shooting looters (and thereby violating their civil rights).
Posted by: Fliting Graimp6933 || 09/02/2005 12:46 Comments || Top||

#2  The ACLU does not equal all atheists. There are plenty of war veterans who are atheists, plenty of Republicans and conservatives and even Libertarians who are atheists, and plenty of people who will be/have been donating more than they can afford to the hurricane survivors who are atheists. There are even plenty of atheists who have religious friends like you, Fliting Graimp6933. "Judge not, lest ye be judged," is a motto you should engrave upon your heart, if only to prevent such rudeness in the future.
Posted by: trailing wife || 09/02/2005 13:17 Comments || Top||

#3  And by the way, some 11% of Americans are either atheist or agnostic, so you might want to be careful who you insult -- the odds are high it will be someone you know... and they might choose to take umbrage.
Posted by: trailing wife || 09/02/2005 13:24 Comments || Top||

#4  And that doesn't even count the apathists who don't know whether there are any gods and don't really give a damn.
Posted by: Angomble Spesing4071 || 09/02/2005 14:15 Comments || Top||

#5  He is right in point out that the relief agencies and efforts are largely "religous" in character and nature. And there are no avowedly "Atheist" organizations out there doing anything.

And I agree about the ACLU probably preparing lawsuits.

As for people around me being atheist? WHo cares. Thats their folly, and they are welcome to it. I generally pity them as long as they don't try to constrain me in what my religion requires me to do.

The atheists I've met that fall generally into 1 of 2 stripes: the idiot communists/socialists who sacrifice men to their own gods of the "collective" and want to tell every one selse what to do, and the zealous Rand purists, who cut men from one another in their "my-me-mine" view of life not caring about true compassion nor making room for it, in fear that it might rupture the consistency of the philosophical ediface their leader constructed, they try to be Mr SPock from Star Trek. Remarkable is that both groups have schisms, purges, power-struggles, attempt to tell others what to do while failing at it miserably themselves, and remain insignificant when it comes to daily life in the world that is. Of these, I used to be the latter until the whole of things fell apart in showed the flaws in the very structure of the Objectivism as a political entity.

And I speak from experience in that there are few if any atheists in foxholes. Facing life and death clarifies the heart and mind wonderfully.
Posted by: Oldspook || 09/02/2005 17:12 Comments || Top||

#6  I am an atheist. I judge people based upon their deeds - their words, whether mumbled or screeched, are merely wind, at best, and misdirection, at worst. I've given generously - to the soldiers, to the tsunami victims, to Cal earthquake victims, to the Fla hurricane victims, and to the Katrina victims, just to name a few. I've fought from a foxhole with the first issue of the M-16, jamming and clogging in the worst moments. I've consistently offered support to my friends of religion - but because they and theirs are doers of good deeds, not for what belief they espouse.

I have happily cherry-picked every religion and ideology for those tenets that make sense, contribute to the common good, have stood the test of time - made them mine - and discarded the trainloads of silly bullshit that were offered up with them. My deeds are mine, borne of my own mind, by my own logic, from my own heart - no external codes drive me - it is a personal synthesis of the best I can find among mankind. If you don't like the way I act, then truly I am to blame.

I've fought the forces of totalitarianism - the failed ideologies of communism, socialism, fascism, et al. I've fought the self-defeatism of the PC fools and Moonbat tools. The ANSWER, ACLU, etc entities are enemies of freedom and individualism, thus they are my enemies. They are fascists and fear / hate mongerers.

So help me out here - I don't know which fucking pigeonhole fits me.

"If you ain't like me you're broke..." seems to be the message here... or did I misunderstand?
Posted by: .com || 09/02/2005 21:39 Comments || Top||

Home Front: Economy
New Orleans: A Geopolitical Prize
Long, really need to be p. 49-ed; no source, this is a Stratfor freebie, and an interesting one, lot of things I didn't know about New Orleans and Mississipi. Stratfor has done a good serie on Katrina on the same theme IMHO. I'm sure the USA and the New Orleaners (?) will endure and overcome, no doubt about it, but in the meantime, my heart goes to thoses who have lost everything, including loved ones.
By George Friedman

The American political system was founded in Philadelphia, but the American nation was built on the vast farmlands that stretch from the Alleghenies to the Rockies. That farmland produced the wealth that funded American industrialization: It permitted the formation of a class of small landholders who, amazingly, could produce more than they could consume. They could sell their excess crops in the east and in Europe and save that money, which eventually became the founding capital of American industry.

But it was not the extraordinary land nor the farmers and ranchers who alone set the process in motion. Rather, it was geography -- the extraordinary system of rivers that flowed through the Midwest and allowed them to ship their surplus to the rest of the world. All of the rivers flowed into one -- the Mississippi -- and the Mississippi flowed to the ports in and around one city: New Orleans. It was in New Orleans that the barges from upstream were unloaded and their cargos stored, sold and reloaded on ocean-going vessels. Until last Sunday, New Orleans was, in many ways, the pivot of the American economy.

Continued on Page 49
Posted by: anonymous5089 || 09/02/2005 05:46 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [390 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Read this last night. Really puts this all in perspective.

There are people going to work for the first time today in the federal government that will be working at fixing this their whole working life. That is how big this is.
Posted by: Sock Puppet O´ Doom || 09/02/2005 8:41 Comments || Top||

#2  The much trashed TomBigbee Channal may yet prove the critic wrong, very wrong. Its not a complete substitution but at least offers an alternative means to redirect river traffic to an alternate port, which was not damaged [particularly to infrastructure] as bad as the NO area.
Posted by: Thinenter Phineque8219 || 09/02/2005 9:16 Comments || Top||

#3  The US needs a port and a petroleum handling facility. They will be rebuilt. Whether the people who work and support those facilities need live in old New Orleans and thus below sea level is a matter to be determined. It would be fascinating to watch the process, but little or none of it will be reported by the MSM.
Posted by: Mrs. Davis || 09/02/2005 9:41 Comments || Top||

#4  In the MEAN TIME .. since we can't ship the grain harvest - turn it into Gasehol - Archer D. are you listening?
Posted by: 3dc || 09/02/2005 10:23 Comments || Top||

#5  I see it as a new American frontier for adventurous souls.
Posted by: Seafarious || 09/02/2005 11:55 Comments || Top||

#6  If oil-workers brave hideous Irag for money--the Gulf area will return. Of course, the energy will be controlled by the usual suspect corporations and the government they employ. Meanwhile they will empty our piggybanks.
Posted by: Gleregum Elmaimp9510 || 09/02/2005 12:12 Comments || Top||

#7  You have a choice, Gleregum Elmaimp9510. Either the eeeeevil oil corporations, which have the skills and tools to extract the oil from underground, control the process, and therefore earn the profits, or there will be no oil extracted. In which case you will be thrilled to get oil at US$100/bbl, when it can be gotten at all. Actually, unless you are someone politically or economically Very Important, you won't even get the opportunity to try to buy any at that price.
Posted by: trailing wife || 09/02/2005 13:21 Comments || Top||

#8  Ran across this at another site and was going to drop in here. I think in the days, weeks and months ahead there will be debates on just what kind of city the nation needs in the region. Both in the corridors of power and the financial world. Plus we spent how much to dredge the Tombigbee Waterway. Maybe now it might be a good idea to think about putting it to its intended use to relieve some of the pressure off of NO.

By George Friedman

The American political system was founded in Philadelphia, but the American nation was built on the vast farmlands that stretch from the Alleghenies to the Rockies. That farmland produced the wealth that funded American industrialization: It permitted the formation of a class of small landholders who, amazingly, could produce more than they could consume. They could sell their excess crops in the east and in Europe and save that money, which eventually became the founding capital of American industry.

But it was not the extraordinary land nor the farmers and ranchers who alone set the process in motion. Rather, it was geography -- the extraordinary system of rivers that flowed through the Midwest and allowed them to ship their surplus to the rest of the world. All of the rivers flowed into one -- the Mississippi -- and the Mississippi flowed to the ports in and around one city: New Orleans. It was in New Orleans that the barges from upstream were unloaded and their cargos stored, sold and reloaded on ocean-going vessels. Until last Sunday, New Orleans was, in many ways, the pivot of the American economy.

For that reason, the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815 was a key moment in American history. Even though the battle occurred after the War of 1812 was over, had the British taken New Orleans, we suspect they wouldn't have given it back. Without New Orleans, the entire Louisiana Purchase would have been valueless to the United States. Or, to state it more precisely, the British would control the region because, at the end of the day, the value of the Purchase was the land and the rivers - which all converged on the Mississippi and the ultimate port of New Orleans. The hero of the battle was Andrew Jackson, and when he became president, his obsession with Texas had much to do with keeping the Mexicans away from New Orleans.

During the Cold War, a macabre topic of discussion among bored graduate students who studied such things was this: If the Soviets could destroy one city with a large nuclear device, which would it be? The usual answers were Washington or New York. For me, the answer was simple: New Orleans. If the Mississippi River was shut to traffic, then the foundations of the economy would be shattered. The industrial minerals needed in the factories wouldn't come in, and the agricultural wealth wouldn't flow out. Alternative routes really weren't available. The Germans knew it too: A U-boat campaign occurred near the mouth of the Mississippi during World War II. Both the Germans and Stratfor have stood with Andy Jackson: New Orleans was the prize.

Last Sunday, nature took out New Orleans almost as surely as a nuclear strike. Hurricane Katrina's geopolitical effect was not, in many ways, distinguishable from a mushroom cloud. The key exit from North America was closed. The petrochemical industry, which has become an added value to the region since Jackson's days, was at risk. The navigability of the Mississippi south of New Orleans was a question mark. New Orleans as a city and as a port complex had ceased to exist, and it was not clear that it could recover.

The ports of South Louisiana and New Orleans, which run north and south of the city, are as important today as at any point during the history of the republic. On its own merit, the Port of South Louisiana is the largest port in the United States by tonnage and the fifth-largest in the world. It exports more than 52 million tons a year, of which more than half are agricultural products -- corn, soybeans and so on. A larger proportion of U.S. agriculture flows out of the port. Almost as much cargo, nearly 57 million tons, comes in through the port -- including not only crude oil, but chemicals and fertilizers, coal, concrete and so on.

A simple way to think about the New Orleans port complex is that it is where the bulk commodities of agriculture go out to the world and the bulk commodities of industrialism come in. The commodity chain of the global food industry starts here, as does that of American industrialism. If these facilities are gone, more than the price of goods shifts: The very physical structure of the global economy would have to be reshaped. Consider the impact to the U.S. auto industry if steel doesn't come up the river, or the effect on global food supplies if U.S. corn and soybeans don't get to the markets.

The problem is that there are no good shipping alternatives. River transport is cheap, and most of the commodities we are discussing have low value-to-weight ratios. The U.S. transport system was built on the assumption that these commodities would travel to and from New Orleans by barge, where they would be loaded on ships or offloaded. Apart from port capacity elsewhere in the United States, there aren't enough trucks or rail cars to handle the long-distance hauling of these enormous quantities -- assuming for the moment that the economics could be managed, which they can't be.

The focus in the media has been on the oil industry in Louisiana and Mississippi. This is not a trivial question, but in a certain sense, it is dwarfed by the shipping issue. First, Louisiana is the source of about 15 percent of U.S.-produced petroleum, much of it from the Gulf. The local refineries are critical to American infrastructure. Were all of these facilities to be lost, the effect on the price of oil worldwide would be extraordinarily painful. If the river itself became unnavigable or if the ports are no longer functioning, however, the impact to the wider economy would be significantly more severe. In a sense, there is more flexibility in oil than in the physical transport of these other commodities.

There is clearly good news as information comes in. By all accounts, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, which services supertankers in the Gulf, is intact. Port Fourchon, which is the center of extraction operations in the Gulf, has sustained damage but is recoverable. The status of the oil platforms is unclear and it is not known what the underwater systems look like, but on the surface, the damage - though not trivial -- is manageable.

The news on the river is also far better than would have been expected on Sunday. The river has not changed its course. No major levees containing the river have burst. The Mississippi apparently has not silted up to such an extent that massive dredging would be required to render it navigable. Even the port facilities, although apparently damaged in many places and destroyed in few, are still there. The river, as transport corridor, has not been lost.

What has been lost is the city of New Orleans and many of the residential suburban areas around it. The population has fled, leaving behind a relatively small number of people in desperate straits. Some are dead, others are dying, and the magnitude of the situation dwarfs the resources required to ameliorate their condition. But it is not the population that is trapped in New Orleans that is of geopolitical significance: It is the population that has left and has nowhere to return to.

The oil fields, pipelines and ports required a skilled workforce in order to operate. That workforce requires homes. They require stores to buy food and other supplies. Hospitals and doctors. Schools for their children. In other words, in order to operate the facilities critical to the United States, you need a workforce to do it -- and that workforce is gone. Unlike in other disasters, that workforce cannot return to the region because they have no place to live. New Orleans is gone, and the metropolitan area surrounding New Orleans is either gone or so badly damaged that it will not be inhabitable for a long time.

It is possible to jury-rig around this problem for a short time. But the fact is that those who have left the area have gone to live with relatives and friends. Those who had the ability to leave also had networks of relationships and resources to manage their exile. But those resources are not infinite -- and as it becomes apparent that these people will not be returning to New Orleans any time soon, they will be enrolling their children in new schools, finding new jobs, finding new accommodations. If they have any insurance money coming, they will collect it. If they have none, then -- whatever emotional connections they may have to their home -- their economic connection to it has been severed. In a very short time, these people will be making decisions that will start to reshape population and workforce patterns in the region.

A city is a complex and ongoing process - one that requires physical infrastructure to support the people who live in it and people to operate that physical infrastructure. We don't simply mean power plants or sewage treatment facilities, although they are critical. Someone has to be able to sell a bottle of milk or a new shirt. Someone has to be able to repair a car or do surgery. And the people who do those things, along with the infrastructure that supports them, are gone -- and they are not coming back anytime soon.

It is in this sense, then, that it seems almost as if a nuclear weapon went off in New Orleans. The people mostly have fled rather than died, but they are gone. Not all of the facilities are destroyed, but most are. It appears to us that New Orleans and its environs have passed the point of recoverability. The area can recover, to be sure, but only with the commitment of massive resources from outside -- and those resources would always be at risk to another Katrina.

The displacement of population is the crisis that New Orleans faces. It is also a national crisis, because the largest port in the United States cannot function without a city around it. The physical and business processes of a port cannot occur in a ghost town, and right now, that is what New Orleans is. It is not about the facilities, and it is not about the oil. It is about the loss of a city's population and the paralysis of the largest port in the United States.

Let's go back to the beginning. The United States historically has depended on the Mississippi and its tributaries for transport. Barges navigate the river. Ships go on the ocean. The barges must offload to the ships and vice versa. There must be a facility to empower this exchange. It is also the facility where goods are stored in transit. Without this port, the river can't be used. Protecting that port has been, from the time of the Louisiana Purchase, a fundamental national security issue for the United States.

Katrina has taken out the port -- not by destroying the facilities, but by rendering the area uninhabited and potentially uninhabitable. That means that even if the Mississippi remains navigable, the absence of a port near the mouth of the river makes the Mississippi enormously less useful than it was. For these reasons, the United States has lost not only its biggest port complex, but also the utility of its river transport system -- the foundation of the entire American transport system. There are some substitutes, but none with sufficient capacity to solve the problem.

It follows from this that the port will have to be revived and, one would assume, the city as well. The ports around New Orleans are located as far north as they can be and still be accessed by ocean-going vessels. The need for ships to be able to pass each other in the waterways, which narrow to the north, adds to the problem. Besides, the Highway 190 bridge in Baton Rouge blocks the river going north. New Orleans is where it is for a reason: The United States needs a city right there.

New Orleans is not optional for the United States' commercial infrastructure. It is a terrible place for a city to be located, but exactly the place where a city must exist. With that as a given, a city will return there because the alternatives are too devastating. The harvest is coming, and that means that the port will have to be opened soon. As in Iraq, premiums will be paid to people prepared to endure the hardships of working in New Orleans. But in the end, the city will return because it has to.

Geopolitics is the stuff of permanent geographical realities and the way they interact with political life. Geopolitics created New Orleans. Geopolitics caused American presidents to obsess over its safety. And geopolitics will force the city's resurrection, even if it is in the worst imaginable place.
Posted by: Cheaderhead || 09/02/2005 15:21 Comments || Top||

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