Media response

International Herald Tribune

Disaster exposes city’s racial fault line

Even people who had spent a lifetime studying race and class found themselves slack-jawed.
“This is a pretty graphic illustration of who gets left behind in this society – in a literal way,” said Christopher Jencks, a sociologist glued to the televised images from his office at Harvard University.

New York Times

A Can’t-Do Government

I don’t think this is a simple tale of incompetence. The reason the military wasn’t rushed in to help along the Gulf Coast is, I believe, the same reason nothing was done to stop looting after the fall of Baghdad. Flood control was neglected for the same reason our troops in Iraq didn’t get adequate armor.

At a fundamental level, I’d argue, our current leaders just aren’t serious about some of the essential functions of government. They like waging war, but they don’t like providing security, rescuing those in need or spending on preventive measures. And they never, ever ask for shared sacrifice.

The Scotsman

Beleagued Bush forced to admit US is unable to cope

The United States has asked the European Union and NATO for emergency assistance for the victims of Hurricane Katrina as salvage efforts in New Orleans and other cities begin to move from rescuing the living to recovering the dead.

Irish Times

New Orleans nearly empty as blame game begins

New Orleans looked all but empty on Sunday after the final evacuation of battered survivors of Hurricane Katrina, while top Bush administration officials, stung by anger at their relief efforts, were fanning out across the afflicted region.

Wall Street Journal

The Katrina Crisis. A hurricane produces an integrated energy disaster.

What makes it an integrated crisis is that the entire energy supply system in the region has been disabled, and that the parts all depend upon each other for recovery. If the next weeks reveal that the losses are as large as some fear, this would constitute one of the biggest energy shocks since the 1970s, perhaps even the biggest. Unlike the crises of the ’70s or the Persian Gulf crisis of 1990-91, this does not involve just crude oil: It includes natural gas, refineries and electricity.

Boston Globe

Katrina’s truths

It all adds up to what we saw last week — government not as the enemy, but as the incompetent, impotent bystander. The bystander-in-chief, of course, is George W. Bush, whose whining self-obsession perfectly embodies what America has done to itself.

One cannot see the devastated cities or that river of refugees or those harried National Guard soldiers without seeing something even more disturbing — Katrina’s third epiphany. This is what war looks like, and the harsh reality is that the United States has been the source of exactly such devastation elsewhere. Obliterated cities, populations pushed into refugee camps, young American soldiers overwhelmed by the impossibility of their mission — this is Iraq today. Oil is part of the Gulf Coast story and part of Iraq’s story, too. We are at war for oil, a war we cannot win. Four dollar gasoline. The truth is crashing over us, a tsunami of it.