Common Sense - Give New Orleans Half the Surge
As of tonight, Surge, Clear and Rebuild is the slogan for 22,000 troops and $6.8 billion for securing the city of Baghdad. If ever there was a time to break ranks, do it now and give the City of New Orleans half.
Because, as you may have heard, the killers have returned to New Orleans. Unlike in Baghdad, you have a green light to enter these neighborhoods. We don’t expect your commitment to be open-ended, but please make it long term this time. We will not provide a safe haven in Central City for any outlaws. We are ready for fewer acts of brazen terror. Increasing safety in New Orleans daily life will give us the breathing space we need to make progress in other areas such as healthcare, electricity, schools and clean water.
Dick Durbin, since you do not love the Surge proposal, cut it in half and give us the extra. Trust us with the hard earned tax dollars you are about to spend. We dried off the French Quarter long ago and it is beautiful. It just needs to be safer, so send your Surge troops. They can call home without international rates.
And Norm Coleman, you say it is a mistake to put more troops at risk to address a problem that is not a military problem and create more targets. So spend half of those billions and that manpower to address our non-military problem. Give us taxation with representation.
There are now two New Orleans weapons of mass destruction. Fear and hopelessness. You are invited to impose security and stability. Strategy, slogans, a new direction, we’ll take it all. As securing Baghdad is already costing hundreds of millions a day, please make do with just 10,000 troops and $3.4 billion more. You are already marching toward escalation – please escalate to reassure a Katrina-weary New Orleans. We will forgive you for the decay and violence overrunning our city if you use the word mistake. We’re a very forgiving people. We re-elected William Jefferson.
With the new Surge, ordinary New Orleans citizens can see visible improvements in their neighborhoods. Benchmarks will include security, an improved economy and shared oil revenues for New Orleans residents. Empower local activist leaders and let us enter political life. Give residents flexibility to spend funds for economic assistance. Expand reconstruction teams to speed the transition to self reliance. Let our citizens move back from Houston to the city they love.
Becky Allen would be a wonderful cultural reconstruction coordinator with a play about rooting out Al K-Da. Draft Nash Roberts and stabilize the region in the face of extreme weather challenges. Mr. Go and the attack on the wetlands must be disrupted. Interrupt the flow of water into our city and seek out and destroy the networks allowing pollution to eat our coast.
Send Surge in for our yellowcake. Red velvet cake, king cake – any cake. Many of us now live where you can’t get a king cake. We will accept debathification. The volunteers gutting homes are halfway there. Dye our fingers purple and we’ll keep them that way all the way through Mardi Gras. There’s your benchmark and your photo op. And we are lousy with oil. Seriously, ask anyone.
Work with the governments of Gretna and Mississippi to help resolve problems along the border. Work through diplomacy with states like California and New York for a national compact for greater assistance. The loss of New Orleans culinary and musical culture would greatly affect all of these areas.
It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. Disenfranchised extremists have declared their intention to destroy our New Orleans way of life. The most realistic way to protect us is to provide a hopeful alternative and provide liberty to our troubled region. We would like a just and hopeful society from St. Bernard to Kenner. Millions of ordinary people are sick of the violence and want peace and opportunity for their children. Thousands are considering withdrawing and leaving the future of our city to extremists. Please ensure the survival of an irreplacable city fighting for its life.
Deadly acts of violence will continue and we must expect more New Orleans casualties before things get better. Victory will not look like post-Hurricanes Betsy or Camille. But give us your Surge of troops and funds, uphold the rule of law, respect fundamental human liberties and answer to our people.
A rebuilt Central City will fight criminals instead of harboring them. Embed a Surge brigade with every New Orleans police patrol. Build a larger and better equipped police force. Many American citizens think New Orleans is too dependant on United States funding. They want the phased withdrawal of FEMA trailers and tax dollars. But to step back now would force a collapse of New Orleans and result in killings on an unimaginable scale.
Please increase your support at this crucial moment and help us break the cycle of the gangs’ Civil War. Take the machine guns out of the hands of our teenagers. Then stay. Give us the help to make Central City less like Lord of the Flies and more like a disaster zone under reconstruction. The young insurgents will see it as a hostile measure, but it has to be done.
A few thousand more soldiers in a quagmire would not make a difference. A few thousand in New Orleans will make all the difference in the world.
Mobilize talented American civilians to deploy to New Orleans. Selfless men and women are already volunteering at Common Ground, MercyCorps, Habitat for Humanity, Americorps and Acorn. It is noble and necessary. They gut homes far from their families who miss them at the holidays. We mourn the loss of every fallen New Orleans hero like Helen Hill and Dinerral Shavers and owe it to them to build a future worthy of their sacrifice.
As Congress weighs its options, please invest your political capital and actual capital to make this the point at which everyone goes on record as either supporting the reconstruction of New Orleans or the final abandonment of our city. And yes, we will accept a permanent base. There’s lots of room in the 9th Ward.
Rally your fellow congressmen. Call and voice your support and watch closely to see if more and more rank and file members sign on to support the New Orleans Surge. We have no time to lose. Hurricane season is 5 months away and the streets back up in a heavy rain. Drainage is still so bad, New Orleans residents empty the pods in front of their FEMA trailers as even the containers flood with rising water.
This is your last chance to step up or dissolve the city. The hurricane season ahead will set the course for a new century. These are times that reveal the character of a nation.
To the Current Administration:
Dear Sirs, here is a suggested addendum to your next fireside chat with the nation.
The Surge will put the National Guard in the crosshairs of New Orleans violence, but we are dying without it. This dialogue would have been better months ago but it’s not too late. Establish the ground truth of what is happening in New Orleans. It’s not a clean victory, and it’s a long process.
Go to the Map Room and address the nation with details educating us on why a strategy change in New Orleans is needed. If the results don’t come through, readdress the situation with benchmarks like schools, hospitals, quality of life, a comprehensive shared list of where the evacuees now live and what they need. Do not add a signing statement discounting the logic behind the New Orleans surge.
This is the opportunity to hang your Mission Accomplished banner over the Superdome and have it be true. The 8 billion Road Home program, once more than 99 grants go out, will be Lagniappe.*
Feel free to train our security forces. We’re 400 short, so leave a few. Outrageous acts of murder are aimed at innocent New Orleaneans. A vicious cycle of street violence is unacceptable to our people. We hope it is unacceptable to you. Failure in New Orleans would be a disaster for the United States. Gangs would gain new recruits and create chaos in the region. Loss of oil revenues would embolden our enemies. On 8/29 we saw what could happen on the streets of our own cities.
America must succeed in New Orleans. Violence has split the city into enclaves and is shaking the confidence of its citizens. Your administration must put forward an aggressive effort to reassure them. It is clear that there were not enough U.S. troops left after 8/29 to secure our neighborhoods. Give us a strong commitment.
If New Orleans does not get 10,000 troops and $3.4 billion to save her, get ready to at some point look into a camera and admit that once again the responsibility rested with you.
After all, it’s a different world after 8/29.