portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary united states

economic justice | government | imperialism & war | katrina aftermath

Katrina and the Neocons' Iraqi War: Wake-up Calls?

Hurricane "Katrina" hit the central Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, causing devastation. When the Army Corps of Engineers had asked for additional funding to protect the New Orleans region from flooding, the Bush-Cheney Gang said, "No!" Meanwhile, the Neocon-inspired Iraqi War continues to waste hundreds of billions of dollars of our nation's resources. Isn't it time for the American people to wake-up and take action to restore the Republic?
Time to Restore the Republic!
Time to Restore the Republic!
On Aug. 29, 2005, the central Gulf Coast of the U.S. endured a merciless assault from a "Category Five" hurricane - Katrina. Taking devastating hits were New Orleans, Louisiana; Biloxi, Mississippi; and Mobile, Alabama. The property damages inflicted by the storm are estimated to cost between $16 to $25 billion. Flood surges dumped all kinds of pollutants, chemicals and human waste on impacted areas, with New Orleans, one of the great cities of the South, brought to a total standstill. At least, 100 people were reported dead and tens of thousands more were left homeless by the killer storm. Over 5,000,000 residents in the Gulf Coast area are presently without electricity. It could take from six to eight weeks, or longer, for the power companies to restore service to the customers affected.

Is there a message here from Katrina for America? Can we use this time of tragedy to reflect and take an honest look at ourselves? Will people ever start to notice just how vulnerable we are as a nation, not only to natural disasters, but to man-made economic and political ones, as well?

On the economic front, did you know that 8,000 U.S. companies, totally $1.3 trillion, were sold to foreign interests in the last 10 years (e.g. Chrysler, Amoco and Arco Oil)? Many of our major industries are now controlled by foreign companies. In addition, we have lost four million high-paying manufacturing jobs in the last ten years. Also, 99% of the U.S. Federal Deficit was financed by foreign investors in 2004. From 1998 to 2004, foreign countries have spent $620 million in Washington, DC, lobbying for free trade, tax incentives and contracts. (1) Do you get the feeling the American people are being royally shafted by the special interests? If so, you're right.

Will America ever become conscious, too, of the massive suffering that we as a country have imposed on the innocent peoples of Iraq? Shouldn't we ponder: "What does that exactly mean for our relationship with the Muslim World, not only for the possibility of increased terrorism, but also for the alarming rise in the price of energy?" The toll from the man-made Iraqi War is of a mega-catastrophe level! A nation of 22 million souls, Iraq, and its ancient cities, like Baghdad, Fallujah and Mosul, have been reduced mostly to rubble by the U.S.'s invasion and occupation of that country. Water, gasoline, food, medical supplies and electricity are always in need there, while dangerous radioactive depleted uranium dust saturates the country. As many as 100,000 Iraqi civilians may have been killed so far in that conflict. (2)

And just how did we get into that Iraqi mess? (3) The Iraqi War was the brain child of Paul Wolfowitz. At the time of the invasion-March 20, 2003-he was the Deputy Secretary of Defense and one of the highest ranking members of the Bush-Cheney Gang. Today, he is in charge of the World Bank. By common consent, Wolfowitz, a zealot and Neocon, (4) has been deemed the prime "architect" of that unjust and immoral blood-stained war. (5)

There are also all kinds of ramifications from the Iraqi War, and some have hit home because of the Katrina disaster. When the Louisiana National Guard, in the aftermath of the storm, was called out to protect property and life, only 65 percent of its personnel were able to answer the call! Why? The Bush-Cheney Gang had sent the rest of them to Iraq based on a war policy that we now know is nothing but a pack of lies. (6) Some of the members of that Guard are on their second tour of duty in the Iraqi hellhole. Of the 1,877 American military personnel that have died in Iraq, 47 were from the state of Louisiana and five called the city of New Orleans - home. The Iraqi War itself has cost this nation $190.8 billion, with no end in sight. (7)

And, then there is what the Bush-Cheney Gang didn't do to help the peoples of the central Gulf Coast region. As late as Feb. 7, 2005, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had identified and documented a strong need for additional flood and hurricane protection in the range of $150 million for the New Orleans region. The funds sought were to be used for "widening drainage canals, flood-proofing bridges and building pumping stations in Orleans and Jefferson parishes." (8) The Corps' justified request, however, received a deaf ear from the Bush-Cheney Gang, which insisted on wasting more of our nation's resources on the unwinnable Iraqi War and other madcap schemes.

One of the excessive expenditures now on the Bush-Cheney Gang's agenda, deals with Israel. The American taxpayers are expected to pick up the cost, $2.2 billion, for the recent removal of the illegal Israeli settlements from Occupied Gaza. (9) This operation has nothing whatsoever to do with the safety or security of the U.S. In fact, since 1948, U.S. taxpayers have subsidized the Israeli state to the tune of $100 billion-plus. (10) Keep in mind, the U.S. didn't have any enemies in the Islamic World prior to the creation of Israel and that none of Israel's troops are serving along side U.S. military personnel in Iraq. Why does this one-sided relationship with Zionist Israel persist? Where is the priority of this and past administrations?

Another result of Katrina is that the price of gasoline, immediately, jumped five cents a gallon at the pump. Consumers can also expect natural gas prices to be 20 percent higher than last Fall's, since the Katrina-suffering central Gulf Coast is one of the leading areas for the production and distribution of both oil and gas. The dysfunctional energy ploys of the Bush-Cheney Gang are big part of this current problem, too. (11) Question: "What man-made incident, more than any other, has helped to destabilize the international oil market in today's world? Try the U.S. invasion of Iraq! (12)

I believe that Katrina and the Iraqi War are wake up calls for America! It's time for all of us to take a good look at our country and see where we have been and where we are headed. Thanks to self-defeating economic policies, we are no longer competitive as a nation. We are only a "free market" for others, like the Plutocratic elite, to exploit. Our manufacturing base is fast disappearing and our trade deficits are transferring billions of dollars of U.S. assets to foreign control. (1) Our national debt now stands at $7.9 trillion! (13) The Iraqi War, too, inspired by the Neocons, has only made us more enemies. It has also led to the destabilizing of the price of oil.

Finally, the Bush-Cheney Gang's gross incompetence has also shown how vulnerable we are to monopolized energy market forces and to the future "Enronization of America!" It's time for the people to wake up and to take their country back before it is too late. By ancient right, the Republic belongs to the people, but only if they have the the courage and the vision to take the political action that is necessary to fully restore it.


1.  http://www.economyincrisis.org/
2.  http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/10/29/iraq.deaths/
3.  http://irmep.org/
4.  http://batr.net/neoconwatch/
5.  http://www.unknownnews.net/031102a-be.html
6.  http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/
7.  http://www.costofwar.com/
8. Deon Roberts, New Orleans City Business, "Bush's Budget for New Orleans District," 02/07/05.
9.  http://www.antiwar.com/reese/?articleid=7022
10.  http://www.washington-report.org/
11.  http://www.americanprogressaction.org/site/pp.asp?c=klLWJcP7H&b=100480
12.  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/2491045.stm
13.  http://www.uwsa.com/uwsa-usdebt.html

William Hughes 2005.

William Hughes is the author of "Saying ''No' to the War Party" (IUniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at  liamhughes@comcast.net.

homepage: homepage: http://home.comcast.net/~liamhughes/

Inaccuracies in the first paragraph 31.Aug.2005 07:25


The fact that you got two simple facts wrong in the first paragraph makes me question all the other "facts" which you present in this article. The gulf coast was not hit by a category 5 storm (Katrina weakened before it hit) and the number without power was exaggerated (it was about half of what you said). After that, all the other facts you cite don't even seem worth checking. Progressives do not need to be given basic misinformation and inaccurate facts -- even if some of the points you make might be valid. Maybe the author of this article should just stick to harmless conspiracy theories and leave more serious journalism to others.

tell us more... 31.Aug.2005 08:31


I heard it on the news that it was a #5 but that's commercial media. Shills.
Where are YOUR accurate facts to bring to this wire? How about some URLs that give you the impression that any reporting 'was exaggerated'. Thank you in advance.

was Katrina category 4 or category 5? 31.Aug.2005 10:27


according to wikipedia:
[  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina ]

"However, the system regained strength much more quickly than anticipated in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, becoming a Category 5 hurricane and reaching a central pressure of 902 mb (26.63 inHg), the fourth most intense storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin, with maximum sustained windspeeds of 175 mph and wind gusts over 200 mph. The system turned northward and weakened slightly just before making its second landfall on August 29, 2005, near Grand Isle, Louisiana, as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph."

Had the winds at that point been *155*, Katrina would still have been a Cat 5. one commentator wrote that, given this, Katrina was basically a "4.9". i'm afraid i can't cite the commentator's article right now (i'll try to find it and post it later), but i will say that a) the difference of 5mph made little difference to the people of New Orleans, and b) there's room to debate the hurricane category classification system here, perhaps taking into account an average or something of all factors. (i.e., if wind is slightly below the threshold, but another factor is way above, it could still be a Cat. 5.)

more to the point, the author's "error" was an easy one to make, as the storm was referred to as a category 5 consistently for some time until immediately before the New Orleans hit.

p.s. thanks for another great article, Mr. Hughes!

Question for Questionable 31.Aug.2005 10:32


You say, "The fact that you got two simple facts wrong in the first paragraph makes me question all the other "facts" which you present in this article."

Are you also questioning the mainstream corporate media this closely? i hope so. See << corporate news: after hurricane, white people "find" things, while non-white people "loot" >> on this site at <<  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/08/323841.shtml >>, for a good point about how the corporate media's coverage is questionable. they're much more slippery about it, of course, and have more "plausible deniability" since racism is not a "factual" thing in the current line of "journalistic" thinking.

i would also add that the author's analysis is not dependent on the exact black/white correctness of the facts you question, but is instead focusing on the more general issues surrounding the disaster, which could not be dismissed even if the author had called Katrina a "Category 10" hurricane, which doesn't even exist.

The point 31.Aug.2005 15:07


The point is... if you give out a collection of slightly inaccurate information it makes the whole article less credible and it makes anyone repeating this information seem foolish. Get it right or don't give it.

I think the point is... 31.Aug.2005 15:25


You want it to be perfect according to your exact standards without having to show major factual errors, implying that without perfection it's unworthy. . It's called sniping.

what a waste of a comment 31.Aug.2005 16:24


The point is....... you are being an ass. It is really pissing me off these days how some fools spend their time nitpicking about useless crap while the shit is comin down.

Oh, by the way. Every estimate I have seen says 2.3 million HOUSEHOLDS and 5 million PEOPLE without electricity. So the original author was right anyway.

Perhaps I was a bit overzealous in my previous comments... 01.Sep.2005 01:14


The comment section was probably the wrong place to make these comments since their was an email address attached. Still... I think their is some validity to my initial response and I think some journalistic standards do need to be brought in even on a little indymedia site. The facts need to be accurate -- especially if you want people who will know otherwise to continue reading. When you add political opinions to this mix it makes it even moreso true. In any case... I know Katrina was a horrible catastophe which was probably made worse by global warming energy policies/use and I know Bush is a SOB. Perhaps my criticism did miss the big picture about a major international port city that has been destroyed.