Effective Governing

I don’t even think there is a need to link to this.  The stories are legion and widespread about the U.S. government’s inept response to Hurricane Katrina:

From Wiki

The storm weakened before making its second landfall as a Category 3 storm on the morning of Monday, August 29 in southeast Louisiana. It caused severe destruction along the Gulf coast from central Florida to Texas, much of it due to the storm surge. The most severe loss of life and property damage occurred in New Orleans, Louisiana, which flooded as the levee system catastrophically failed, in many cases hours after the storm had moved inland. The federal flood protection system in New Orleans failed at more than fifty places. Nearly every levee in metro New Orleans was breached as Hurricane Katrina passed just east of the city limits. Eventually 80% of the city became flooded and also large tracts of neighboring parishes, and the floodwaters lingered for weeks. At least 1,836 people lost their lives in the actual hurricane and in the subsequent floods.

Here it is, June 2009, almost four years later and New Orleans still has large swaths of vacant lots where homes used to be.

Contrast that to this.  I am reading Robin Wright’s Shadows and Dreams: The Future of the Middle East.  I will quote extensively from Ms. Wright’s book.

Hezbollah’s fourth phase began on July 12, 2006, a scorching hot summer day along the dusty Lebanese-Israeli border.  At 9:05 A.M., as hezbollah fired rockets in other directions to divert attention, a band of Shiite guerrillas scrambled across the fortified security fence into Israel’s northern farmland.  The militants found their target on a secluded stretch of road near a peach orchard.  In a lightning strike on the small Israeli border patrol, they fired rockets that blew up two Israeli military Humvees, killed three Israeli troops and wounded two other soldiers.

The Hezbollahs then nabbed the two injured Israelis . . . and fled back across the border.

The raid changed Hezbollah and the Middle East.

Indeed it did.  Israel responded quickly and forcefully.  Thirty-four days later, August 14, 2006, the war was over.

Politically, Prime Minister Olmert’s new government paid a huge price.  The initial overwhelming enthusiasm for the war slipped steadily.  In a sharp public rebuke, a survey after the war found sixty-three percent of Israelis wanted Olmert to resign.  A year later, Olmert’s support had plummeted to less than three percent.

But the Israeli war machine did catastrophic damage to Lebanon’s infrastructure.  Roads, bridges, houses, apartment complexes – complete devastation.

Just hours after the United Nations cease-fire took hold [Hezbollah leader] Nasrallah appeared on television to give the last and perhaps the most important of his nine wartime speeches.  With meticulous precision, he detailed Hezbollah’s plan to reconstruct Lebanon.

“You will not have to ask for anyone’s help.  You will not have to stand in lines or go anywhere,” he promised people stranded in the cutoff south.  “Today is the day to keep up our promises.  All our brothers will be in your service starting tomorrow.”

In a telling signal to his movement, Nasrallah added, “Completing the victory can come with reconstruction.”

Within twenty-four hours, Hezbollah bulldozers were roaring down streets of the dahiya, clearing away rubble.  Trucks delivered crates of food – peppers and peaches, sardines and cheese, as well as “victory sweets.”  Trucks ferried in water.

Within two days, Hezbollah teams with clipboards were dispersed in southern towns doing house-to-house assessments , cataloging damage, knocking on doors to check on what people needed.  In the dahiya a high school was converted into a reconstruction center.  Signs on the wall directed Lebanese who had lost their homes.  One line was marked DAMAGED: the other DESTROYED.

Within four days, Hezbollah was doling out $12,000 – in crisp American bills – per household to pay for one years rent and to buy what Nasrallah called “decent and suitable” furniture.  With 15,000 destroyed housing units, the total was well over $150 million dollars just for compensation, before rebuilding even began.

By the end of two weeks, Hezbollah had divided the dahiya into eighty-six zones.  Each zone had a four-person engineering team assigned to develop plans for rebuilding.

It might be useful to recall the picture of President Bush flying over New Orleans in Air Force One looking out the window at the devastation below and compare it to Lebanon’s “roll-up-the-sleeves-and-get-to-work” attitude.

Perhaps capitalism is so greedy that it cannot have any empathy for those that are the victims of a natural calamity.

Explore posts in the same categories: Domestic Issues

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