Chengdu - v - New Orleans

Washington, DC, Apr 15th, 2008 -- The Tale of Two Cities. One in an inaccessible region, struck with a massive Earthquake, the other a major seaport and lifeline in a highly populated, flat area with good communications.

I have been to Chengdu and it's in the middle of nowhere. I have been to New Orleans several times, together with thousands of visitors.

What should be a case study is the government response after the news of the disaster reached the leaders of each nation.

In Chengdu the devastation was total, with buildings collapsed within minutes of the event. In New Orleans the breach in the levy flooded the area, but with plenty of time to evacuate, and send in assistance.

The Chinese government, not usually noted for their openness sent in 50,000 troops, rescue units within minutes of the news. The leadership apparently ordered medics to parachute into the area, and mobilized helicopters and rescue vehicles who were rolling within hours, even less.

With New Orleans the Bush Administration sat on their fat asses and watched CNN. The Mayor held News Conferences and forgot to mobilize the fleet of buses, which quietly became engulfed in the rising waters. Useless. The Governor made sure her hair was right, and signed requests for the National Guard to help. Then it became apparent that the National Guard resources needed were in Iraq helping Haliburton.

Medicines, Food, Water and Shelters were rushed into Chengdu and onwards to the Epicenter region, with the most damage, and the greatest need. In New Orleans they held more News Conferences. People began dying in the sweltering heat.

The United States has the world's largest and most destructive stockpile of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and can destroy mankind many times over. It has the best technology, and is the richest nation on Earth. Yet when it comes to caring for it's citizens after a natural disaster on anything but a localized scale it is one of the worst. One wonders if the desperate crowds huddled around the New Orleans Convention Center, without even the basic medical and health attention would have needed their Insurance Coverage Cards before they got help. Sorry Ma'am your HMO does not cover dehydration, hunger and blistering sunstroke.

But this comparison should be a wake up call for more than political neglect and the inability to organize, it should show what China is capable of when pushed. Realizing that it took the Pentagon six months to build up to mobilizing 50,000 troops to move against Iraq, with billions of dollars of secret contracts to Friends of the Veep. True the equipment needs were considerably different, but China mobilized the same number within less than a day. They do have 1,000,000 troops to call upon, which makes deployment easier. But the news footage showing the modern equipment, protective gear and supplies should be noted.

Maybe not allowing air time to politicians who want to play party politics, and fail to meet the basic needs of their citizens is the answer. But then what would CNN, Fox and the others have to fill their 24 hours.

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