Sunday, June 25, 2006

Iraq Hypocrisy?

With violent crime on the rise in disfunctional New Orleans, Mayor Nagin has requested - and Governor Blanco has approved - the dispatch of 300 Louisiana guardsmen to that city, to support law enforcement. This is a dangerous assignment, with the Times Picayune reporting what amounts to a 6 percent increase in murders this year, with what appears to be a rising curve:

With the body of a gunshot victim that was found Wednesday in the neighborhood of Algiers, the New Orleans murder toll so far this year reached 54. The number is well below the 134 killed in the first six months of 2005.

But considering the city's reduced population since Katrina, this year's murder rate so far is 16 killings per 100,000 people, compared to 15.1 in the same period last year, the New Orleans Times Picayune figured.

Congressman Steve King claims that the civilian death rate in New Orleans was almost TWICE the death rate in Iraq, before this increase:

The American city with the highest civilian death rate was New Orleans before Katrina - with a staggering 53.1 deaths per 100,000 - almost twice the death rate in Iraq.

Louisiana Weekly's Jerome LeDoux notes that violent deaths in New Orleans and other large cities are more numerous than in Iraq:

So, are you safer on the streets of New Orleans or in Iraq? What about the streets of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Newark, Atlanta? The truth is, adding up a year's tolls of just four of our big cities, the tolls far exceed the grand total of the whole Iraqi war. For 2005, our total national toll was 15,533. And what is our reaction to that?

Safety and crime control authorities are crowing that crime, including murders, is down to its lowest level since 1966. So we can afford to take comfort in "only" 15,533 murders in 2005, or an average of one murder every 34 minutes?

If Iraq had casualty figures even remotely approaching that awful average, we would call for the hide of the President, of our military officers, and of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives with every local politico thrown in to boot. As it is, the 2,500 total of military deaths in Iraq for the entire war is a target for media fixation and grief.

The truly scary thing is that, statistically, we would frequently be safer in Baghdad than in some of our big U.S. cities. If that isn't frightening, nothing is. Yet, where are the loud screams of protest and outrage at such an absence of law enforcement? In proportion to Baghdad, which media are excoriating our apathy toward security in our major cities?

And apparently the Guard is already dealing with bomb scares:

National Guard Troops Receive Bomb Threat

POSTED: 4:57 pm CDT June 23, 2006
UPDATED: 8:34 pm CDT June 23, 2006

NEW ORLEANS -- A suspicious package created some tense moments in downtown New Orleans on Friday.

The New Orleans Police Department closed down Loyola Avenue after the suspicious package was discovered at the Holiday Inn hotel where National Guard troops had been staying.

The mayor, governor and City Council requested that the National Guard troops be brought in to help police patrol hurricane-devastated neighborhoods plagued by looting.

No evacuations were ordered and the all-clear was given about just before 5 p.m.

Even more worrisome, the decision to send in troops is clearly a political one - aimed at protecting the local economy, without a focus on goals and objectives, and a clear exit strategy:
As the American Library Association opened the Big Easy's biggest convention since Katrina on Thursday, tourism leaders worried that a resurgence of crime could jeopardize any comeback by the city's largest industry. Hotels received dozens of phone calls from fretful librarians asking whether it was safe to come.

In hotel lobbies, visitors receive a paper telling them to enjoy strolling through the French Quarter. But it warns, "Refrain from venturing into areas of the city that are sparsely populated, particularly after dark."

Can anyone be confident that our troops will not be exposed to some unwinnable quagmire?

Given the high level of violence that the Guard will be exposed to, one ought to expect a healthy public debate over the tools and the protection they carry. After all, when the Guard was dispatched to Iraq, major newspapers offered an unceasing critical review of whether the Guard was properly equipped, or whether they were being unnecessarily exposed to a situation which was too dangerous, and for which they were not properly prepared. One might reasonably expect that the major media outlets that showed such concern for our troops in Iraq are no less concerned for them when they are deployed here at home, right?

Well, you might think so. And please let me know if you find any indication of it, because I have yet to find any. It seems that the MSM thinks that they need to be concerned about our troops when they are exposed to dangerous situations in Iraq, but not in the United States.

Hat tip: dad.

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