Barbarians at the Gate

Sean Scallon

Posted Sep 8, 2005      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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By: Sean Scallon

If you saw last year’s film King Arthur then you’ll have some understanding as to what’s going on in New Orleans.

In the film we saw Britain in the waning days of the Roman Empire. The Empires’ garrisons are stripped of soldiers and equipment, sent off to stop barbarian invasions of Italy and other places near the Empire’s center. The people of the island are left to fend for themselves, helpless against the wave of barbarian invasions from likes of the Saxons.

So it was with a desperately poor of New Orleans, left to fend for themselves against the barbarians of their own city, the looters, rapists and other criminal gangsters with guns who preyed upon them during week one of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Empire’s garrisons are empty, stripped of men and equipment that are in Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever they may be around the world.

Of course, the Empire has finally reacted now. They’ve dispatched plenty of men and material to aid both New Orleans and the Gulf coast virtually obliterated by the storm and flooding afterward. More is on the way. The situation will stabilize and the rebuilding will slowly commence.

Alas, it will be too late for those who had to suffer through a week of purest hell in what are now ghost towns. Such is the collapse of central authority when disasters like this happen.

You know when Empires and kingdoms are on their last leg? When their very authority begins to die away, when no one is scared of their tyranny anymore or when it loses its credibility or the fear it produces. Indeed, such a collapses often produce anarchy itself which is then replace by another and different tyranny altogether.

Such was the chink in the Empire’s armor, plain for the entire world to see now. How can the U.S. rebuild and aid Baghdad when it can even help one its own cities in need? Only 853 members of the Mississippi National Guard were present for hurricane duty the night Katrina struck out of a total force of 7,000. A good 3,000 soldiers plus much of their equipment was in Iraq, the kind that would be needed for a big disaster like Katrina.

If you’re a guardsmen from Mississippi or Louisiana or Alabama stationed in Iraq right now, you have to be wondering what the hell you’re doing trying to restore a shattered nation when your own nation and your own backyard lay in ruins and your own people are desperate to stay alive. What message does this convey when the government won’t even let such troops go back home, that the lives Iraqi and Afghanis are more important to them than their fellow Americans? That subsidizing former settlers from Gaza between the tune of $200,000 to $300,000 to live someplace else in Israel is more important than flood control projects in southern Louisiana in the budget?

What is upon us is another paleo (libertarian, conservative, take your pick) moment just as 9-11 was. Back then it was realization that U.S. foreign policy decisions can have real consequences for ordinary citizens who don’t get a say in how they are made and that unlimited immigration is a bad way to ensure security against terrorism. Now we can see taxpayer money and other resources spent and used overseas can leave us helpless in the face of the potential tragedies we face here at home. The wisdom of such adventures and their costs will now be fully scrutinized.

In the movie, the people of Britain, left to fend for themselves by the Romans, save their lands from the Saxons by organizing a defense and naming Arthur their king. Ultimately, as the federal government leaves us to fend for ourselves while busy trying change the word in the name of “democracy,” it’s up to us to take care of our own and our neighbors and communities to keep the barbarians from sacking places like New Orleans, just as they did Rome.


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