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New Orleans
Scenario for a military takeover of civilian life

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(10 September, 2005) -- THE NEW ORLEANS FIASCO is revealing how the US failed state is transforming all social, civil and political affairs into military matters. Military control and martial law over foreign occupied territories are being extended to the US homeland, and an annexed Canada and Mexico. Political, civil and social authority increasingly resides in the US Military's Northern Command (NORTHCOM), a militarized Department of Homeland Security and the executive branch of a United States of North American Monopolies.

A tremendous struggle has erupted within the ruling circles and monopolies of the US failed state over control of NORTHCOM and Homeland Security and the people are paying the disastrous price with their lives, the lives of their families, their dignity and meagre possessions. The struggle is apparent within the institution responsible for civil defence against natural disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Under President Bush's executive rule, the Department of Homeland Security has taken control of FEMA and submerged its civil defence preparations into the US failed state's war on terror. Funds, professional personnel and equipment for civil defence have been seconded into the war on terror.

Contradictions within Homeland Security/FEMA are evident in comments from local and other FEMA professionals who have denounced the sabotage of preparations to defend the Gulf Coast from hurricanes, in particular the refusal to provide public assistance to evacuees and the neglect of the levees, delta and wetlands surrounding New Orleans. Certain local FEMA leaders have even suggested a secret agenda in diverting funds from levee strengthening and the incessant destruction of the delta and wetlands, which form a natural barrier to a storm surge.

An indication of the antagonism within Homeland Security/FEMA is the following comment by Eric Holdeman, director of the King County, Washington State, Office of Emergency Management:

"The country's premier agency for dealing with such events (Hurricane Katrina) -- FEMA -- is being, in effect, systematically downgraded and all but dismantled by the Department of Homeland Security. Apparently homeland security now consists almost entirely of protection against terrorist acts. How else to explain why FEMA will no longer be responsible for disaster preparedness...? What follows is an obituary for what was once considered the pre-eminent example of a federal agency doing good for the American public in times of trouble, such as the present.... FEMA employees have been directed not to become involved in disaster preparedness functions, since a new directorate (yet to be established) will have that mission. FEMA will be survived by state and local emergency management offices, which are confused about how they fit into the national picture. That's because the focus of the national effort remains terrorism, even if the Department of Homeland Security still talks about 'all-hazards preparedness.' Those of us in the business of dealing with emergencies find ourselves with no national leadership and no mentors. We are being forced to fend for ourselves, making do with the 'homeland security' mission. Our 'all-hazards' approaches have been decimated by the administration's preoccupation with terrorism."

Even a leading member of the US ruling class is critical of the changes fashioned by those in Homeland Security. James Lee Witt, former national leader of FEMA in the 1990s said recently at a US Congressional hearing: "I am extremely concerned that the ability of our nation to prepare for and respond to disasters has been sharply eroded. I hear from emergency managers, local and state leaders, and first responders nearly every day that the FEMA they knew and worked well with has now disappeared."

FEMA/Homeland Security and other government officials refused to organize an evacuation of New Orleans by providing public transportation and accommodation. This was an abdication of the state's responsibilities and duty to its members and society, and is evidence of a failed state, especially a state with an abundance of modern social means of transportation. Eyewitness reports say the monopolies that control thousands of buses in the city locked them in compounds to prevent them from being used by desperate evacuees. Most of the buses are now under water and unusable until repaired. After leaving the poor, elderly, children, tourists and even those in hospitals and jails to an uncertain fate at the hands of the hurricane, the failed state turned on the victims and began a campaign of public torture, humiliation and violent abuse of those left behind in a city whose defences failed. African Americans taking supplies from the stores to survive were denounced as "looters" by the mass media of the failed state with many arrested or shot.

In the past, the US state primarily used the National Guard for civil defence emergencies. Today all the anecdotal evidence points to the deliberate sabotage of the civilian infrastructure by a section of the ruling class to further their own agenda. Many Louisiana and Mississippi National Guard troops are deployed in the US Empire's occupation and aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan. No troops or equipment were transferred into those two states during the hurricane season to compensate for the missing local National Guard members. Even after computer projections predicted that Hurricane Katrina would almost certainly turn towards the Gulf Coast, no movement of National Guard troops and equipment was ordered. They only began to arrive with supplies five days after the hurricane struck.When the military did arrive it was made to appear as conquering heroes that would save the people and destroy the bad guys, similar to its fabricated image in Iraq.

All indications are that part of this scenario is to make the military the solution to the problems of the US failed state in the minds of the US people. The relief efforts are characterized in the mass media as deliberately sabotaged by certain civilian political leaders at the local and state levels, while the military is portrayed for the most part as firm, competent and successful, if civilians and politicians do not interfere with their mission. The mass media seem to be preparing the people to accept the notion that the only solution to the contradictions within the ruling class and US society is to put the military at the heart of the civil, social and political life of the country. Also, the constant harping by some that the all-volunteer military is not large enough to wage war abroad and deal with the situation on the home front is leading to calls for even bigger military budgets and a reinstatement of the involuntary draft.

From AP: "'The cavalry has arrived! The cavalry is and will continue to arrive,' said Lt. Gen. Steven Blum of the National Guard. Blum said half of the 7,000 Guardsmen had just returned from assignments overseas and are 'highly proficient in the use of lethal force.' He pledged to 'put down' the violence 'in a quick and efficient manner'."

From AP: "Four days after Hurricane Katrina struck, the National Guard arrived in force Friday with food, water and weapons, churning through the floodwaters in a vast truck convoy with orders to retake the streets and bring relief to the suffering."

The Governor of Louisiana shamelessly blamed the people of New Orleans for their predicament suggesting they purposely remained in the city ignoring the evacuation order. The governor revelled in the military might of the US armed forces and their ability to protect the private property of the monopolies and the relations of production dominated by the owners of monopoly capital: "'They have M-16s and they're locked and loaded,' Gov. Kathleen Blanco said of 300 National Guard troops who landed in New Orleans fresh from duty in Iraq. 'These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will'."

The mass media repeated the call by many leading figures that the solution to the problem created by politicians and civilian authorities is to strengthen Homeland Security and the military. AP advanced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as an example: "Even Republicans were criticizing Bush and his administration for the sluggish relief effort. 'I think it puts into question all of the Homeland Security and Northern Command planning for the last four years, because if we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?' said Gingrich."

The Christian Science Monitor took up the same theme: "Katrina poses key test for stretched National Guard. Part-time soldiers -- having served in Afghanistan and Iraq -- are now called up for duty in Gulf Coast disaster. Now, with some Guard members comparing New Orleans to Baghdad after the fall of Saddam Hussein -- gripped by chaos and looting -- the Pentagon will have to prove its calculations correct. It comes at a time when 138,000 troops -- including 80,000 members of the National Guard -- are deployed in Iraq.... Outbreaks of violence in New Orleans hinted at the potential for wider unrest and further call-ups, which could reveal weaknesses elsewhere in the nation. 'What do we do if there is a terrorist attack?' asks Lawrence Korb, a defence analyst at the Center for American Progress here. 'We're increasing our risk'."

The newspaper proposes a greater role for the full-time military within the US and hints at expanding its numbers, which could only mean an involuntary draft. The Monitor continues: "The heightened role of the active military in disaster relief could help ease the burden. While the active military has always been involved in disaster relief on some scale, the creation of a command center specifically designed to deal with disasters and homeland security after 9/11 has resulted in a military response that is 'more robust, quicker, and more accurately targeted,' says Lt. Cmdr. Sean Kelly of NORTHCOM.... Yet protracted relief efforts could present a problem. The Pentagon's plans had always been for short wars and short disaster relief."

The image of chaos, looting and anarchy presented by the monopoly media as unleashed by the masses is counterposed by the bringing of order by the US military. A phoney contradiction is constructed of anarchy versus military rule. The mass media implies that when the people are left to their own devices they are incapable of governing themselves; they are incapable of creating institutions and political ways and means to govern themselves in peace and harmony upholding the human factor/social consciousness.

The truth lies elsewhere, seen in the thousands of volunteer forces organized by the people themselves. Voice of Revolution points out: "People are bringing to bear all their organizing experience of the many struggles for rights and against imperialist war.... Medics trained for demonstrations are heading to New Orleans and the surrounding communities. Food Not Bombs, well known for feeding demonstrators and communities, is setting up kitchens in the region and training local people to do the same. The many military families and others involved in the Crawford Camp Casey at Bush's ranch have sent supplies, a bus equipped with satellite for communications and medicine, and are setting up a new Camp Casey in Covington, Louisiana....

"Through their actions, everyone is showing their rejection of the failed US state and coming forward to show that they are the representatives of the people, they are the new, emerging in the face of this failure. Many have brought out, for example, that the massive efforts to get tens of thousands of people to Washington D.C. by bus for September 24 anti-war actions, with organized pick up points and known destinations, to set up tents and water and bathroom facilities, show the abilities of the people to organize to solve such problems. There is no doubt that, given the opportunity, transit workers could have organized the evacuations before the hurricane hit. Schools, universities, churches and nearby communities, like Algiers in New Orleans, could and can provide housing...."

*TML DAILY is a publication of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) at www.cpcml.ca.


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