I suppose US citizens’ attention is focused on the Katrina aftermath proper, whether it be the rescue efforts or the political storm gathering over the responsibility for the human and material loss after the levees broke.
Still, I’d like to point your attention to the way European MSM is generally covering the disaster and its aftermath. Not that I’m a sadomasochist or something. I don’t take some secret pleasure in exposing stuff that at first sight can only widen the chasm between Europe and America, as you know something that I deplore very much. No, I’m exposing a very tiny piece of this garbage so that you know what we Euros are fed on a daily basis, hoping it will offer an explanation as to why Europeans generally seem to dislike the USA. So here goes. The text and the cartoon below appeared in the leading Belgian newspaper De Standaard on Tuesday 6 September 2005. "De Standaard" is the leading Flemish newspaper and since Flanders has more inhabitants than Wallonia, it is also the leading Belgian newspaper. The cartoon is from Dutch "super"cartoonist RubenL, no connection with JohnL, God forbid, and its caption reads:
Nuff said, except that I wonder whether the bald fella is Cheney or Rove. It might well be the latter, you know. Eliminating the Dems’ powerbase in Louisiana using Katrina just reeks like Rove.
Oh well. The author of the piece is a certain Marti Waals, Project Coordinator for Memisa, which is a well-known (at least in Belgium) NGO offering health care in Third World countries, especially in Congo. The title is "Forget Darfur, over to New Orleans". Translation of the first paragraph:
I just come back from a mission to Darfur. But when I saw the TV-images of the ravage and misery inflicted by the Katrina hurricane in the south of the United States, I imagined myself to be in one of the crisis areas in the Third World. It is really unbelievable: the mightiest country on earth is apparently not able to offer its population the most elementary needs. Funds meant for raising and maintaining dykes were diverted towards the fight against terrorism. Even one week after the disaster hospitals don’t manage to cope with the stream of sick and wounded. Hungry and desperate people loot shops to get to food and drinkling water.
Well, that’s the prevailing message in a nutshell over here. I have heard this mantra repeated ad nauseum. Time and again the emphasis is laid on he perceived inability of the United States to help those struck by disaster. The gloating is unmistakable: here is the country that bullies its way through international politics and which now desperately needs help from the international community. Somehow, the underlying message is that IF ONLY the United States had been a Big Socialized Centrally Led Europe Clone, all the suffering would have been dealt with that more swiftly. Well, if that is true, we URGENTLY need much more socialized Europe Mr. Waals! Our Memisa dude appears to be confident that if one day disaster strikes here, our conglomerate of nanny states will take care of each and everyone (except, of course, of hateful racist xenophobic neonazi warmongers like, uh, myself) before you can say Bush took vacation, people faced starvation. Well, sorry dude:
BRUSSELS, Belgium — European officials conducted a simulation showing how Al Qaeda could kill 40,000 people and plunge the continent into chaos if a crude nuclear device were detonated outside NATO headquarters in Brussels.
Oh, I know, that Black Dawn simulation is just another ploy of scaremongers like Rover. Well, sorry to disappoint you again Marti:
After a warning by the chief of the Brussels fire brigade that his men would never be able to cope with an attack on more than one underground station, Véronique Paulus de Châtelet, the Governor of Brussels, confirmed on Tuesday that Brussels does not have an emergency plan in case of an attack by al-Qaeda or other likeminded criminal organisations.
I hope I never have to find out how my nanny state will take care of me in the event of an al-Katrina disaster.
Not content with mocking America for failing to help its own people, towards the end of his prose Mr. Waals sees fit to take a final swipe at the Bush Administration when he draws Darfur in his observations, although I fail to see what marauding janjaweed have to do with Katrina. The following is a translation of the last paragraph (not visible in the text):
During my last mission to Darfur I have seen a lot of desperation, but also a lot of hope. I have talked to homeless and refugees. Many of them dare not yet return home for fear of the attacks of the Janjaweed gangs. Those people will depend for a long time yet on American grain. This will last till that same America exerts sufficient political pressure to finally end this aggression.
Uh, sorry, mr. Waals? Can you pull your head out of your ass please?
In early July 2004, the US, on the grounds of genocide committed against Darfurians, wanted to have the UN Security Council declare a resolution imposing sanctions on Sudan if the violence in Darfur did not stop. At the time, there were an estimated 70,000 dead and 1,200,000 refugees. Speaking of political pressure, Frances Foreign Minister Renaud Muselier OPPOSED the US move, downplaying the disaster and calling what happened in Darfur a "civil war" instead:
"I firmly believe it is a civil war and as they are little villages of 30, 40, 50, there is nothing easier than for a few armed horsemen to burn things down, to kill the men and drive out the women,..."
In other words, can I please get back to my croissants? Subsequently, The US’s draft resolution was voted down by the UN, that paradigm of moral authority according to Mrs. Short. Aside from France, key opponents were the Arab World and The People’s Republic "it’s all about the oil!!!" of China.
By January 2005, there were an estimated 180,000 dead and 2 million refugees in Mr. Museliers "civil war". A UN report released in that same month STILL stopped short of calling the Darfur tragedy a genocide. Now, since the UN is the Global Moral Authority, why does Mr. Waals still think that the US should exert more political pressure to end this aggression??? Does Mr. Waals want the United States to go against the United Nations???
Sigh. Back to Katrina. The gloating did not remain confined to the media but extended to Europes leftist political scene - they are bedfellows anyway - with the most vicious remarks coming from Germany, where Chancellor Schroeder, during a televised debate with upcoming chancellor candidate Angela Merkel, found it necessary to boast that Germany, with its "stronger" state (as opposed to the "minimal" US state) deals far better with natural disasters than the US.
You read me well. There were a couple of floods this summer in Germany and Austria, the aftermath of which was indeed dealt with quite efficiently by relief teams. However, in one breath Schroeder equates the impact of the floods with those caused by Katrina. In the words of Ray D. from Davids Medienkritik:
"Katrina was simply so much larger in scope than recent German floods that to speak of them in the same breath is sheer absurdity. Yet Gerhard Schroeder did exactly that in a major, nationally televised election debate watched by well over 20 million German viewers. The Chancellor first pointed to "noticeable differences" in Germany's response to recent floods versus the US response to Hurricane Katrina, clearly implying that the German response was far better and that the "difference" in response justifies a large state."
Yo, that's Germany's size compared to Katrina's there. I wonder how Gerhard would have dealt with that. He'd probably have had to mobilize the Unions. And, about those floods: bad as they were, there were an estimated 11 people dead in Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Don't want to know what Katrina's toll is. Still more Sauerkraut insanity here.
Good God. Why do I have to share precious European O2 and H2O with these clusterfuckers? Why??? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYY??????????????????