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May 19, 2008 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

A Dearth of Deadly Disasters

Someone really fucked off god over the last two weeks. Showing a childish, immature and misanthropic nature he/ she/it wrecked havoc upon two incredibly heavily populated regions of the world. Both areas happened to be in Asia. What a racist.

In between 1-3 May, a severe cyclonic storm began brewing in the Bay of Bengal. On 3 May it had developed into a category four (out of five) cyclone. It was one large nasty motherfucker. By 4 May it had crashed into the Irrawaddy Delta in the South of Mynamar. Strong winds whipped up tidal surges which absolutely devastated the heavily populated low lying areas on the edge of the basin. A large proportion of settled land was swallowed by sea, or drenched by flooding brought on my torrential rain. The Red Cross has estimated that between 68,833 and 127,990 people have been killed. True numbers are hard to come by, people have just simply vanished. Usually the military junta that rules Myanmar would be okay with this. But it seems that when they aren’t responsible they get a bit pissed off.

The global community leapt to the aid of the struggling nation. Major natural disasters often result in an outpouring of aid money, offers of support and disaster relief assistance. Even in the case of oppressive regimes like that led by the junta. We saw it with the aftermath of the Boxing Day tsunami in 2005, and we started to see it again after the destruction of Cyclone Nargis. Evidence has shown that political divisions are temporarily put on the backburner. In 2005 it happened in Aceh, and the Tamil Tigers were openly helping the Sri Lankan government in the clean up operation. There are obviously more important things to worry about than political rivalries. Food, shelter and medicine needs to get to those afflicted. Communications networks need to be quickly established, and logistical support needs to be set up quickly.

The military junta has done none of this. As the North Korea of the Indian Ocean it has turned it back on the world. It won’t let in impartial USAID workers, and has only let in a trickle of foreign aid. Strangely, its initial response to the crisis was to prostrate itself before the international community. It appeared that their response was going to fit the traditional mould of disaster relief. But suddenly, without warning it stood up and bared its behind at the efforts of the international community. These actions are not only obviously detrimental to the millions of people now in threat of contracting cholera and dysentery – which can kill a child in three days – they are also morally reprehensible. This crackpot cabal of tin head generals, who care more about brainwashing a populace against a fictional imperialist menace, has denied their citizens (if you could even call them that) the means to even exist. What an absolute disgrace. Cyclone Nargis can tell us three things. Firstly, autocratic regimes are stubborn as fuck, and incomprehensibly irrational. Secondly, they don’t deserve to exist, in name or in form. Send in the troops Uncle Sam. Anything is better than what the Burmese people have right now. Thirdly, god is a horrible cunt.

So much so, that a mere eight days later he/she/it commanded a pre-emptive strike against the glorious nation of the people by the Yangtze River. China suffered a massive earthquake, measuring 7.9 on the moment magnitude scale (the seismological successor of the Richter scale). Its epicentre was 90 km northwest of Chengdu, the capital of the province of Sichuan. To make things even worse it had a very shallow depth of 19 km. The world literally came tumbling down. Buildings were not structurally damaged, they were completely obliterated. Almost all the roads and bridges into the province were out of operation. People were instantaneously entombed in piles of rubble. The ruptured fault line alone extended for 250 km. That’s from Wellington to Mount Ruapehu. To put that in perspective, the Wellington fault which ruptured in 1885 (scoring 8.9 on the Richter scale) only measured from the airport to Lower Hutt.

The Sichuan earthquake was a monster. Official figures state that 14,866 are confirmed dead and 66,286 have been confirmed as injured. But the most amazing thing about the disaster was not the power of mother nature, but the Chinese response. Now, regular readers will know that I’m no fan on the red terror that is communism (or Maoism for that matter). But shit. The socialists sure do know how to put on a relief effort. The deployment of the military and specialist response team to the area was phenomenal. Aid has been distributed quickly and efficiently. The military has actually been useful in resolving the situation, unlike their Burmese counterparts. But overall the fortitude of the Chinese people should be applauded. CNN screened an amazing interview with the local Communist Party Chairman of the Chengdu region. His face streaming with tears, he recounted how his wife, child, parents and brother had all been killed. Yet he was determined to spearhead the relief effort. He broke off the interview halfway through when he got called to another collapsed building on his walkie talkie.

Compare this to the United States response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. You can be guaranteed that there won’t be starving and diseased citizens in a Chinese superdome weeks after the crisis. There won’t be Chinese soldiers forcibly keeping people within disaster zones. There won’t be hospitals overflowing with the injured, while their privately funded counterparts go empty. There won’t be private security contractors shooting at civilians who are looting supplies (if they are black) or finding them (if they are white). The aftermath of the quake will not be considered an economic ‘opportunity’ by friedmanites and neo-conservatives. No. This disaster is being dealt with properly. The Sichuan earthquake should be remembered for two reasons. It provides a great example of how to properly deal with humanitarian disasters (putting the West to shame) and it gives further credence to the philosophical theory… That god’s a cunt.


About the Author ()

Conrad is a very grumpy boy. When he was little he had a curl in the middle of his forehead. When he was good, he was moderately good, but when he was mean he was HORRID. He likes guns, bombs and shooting doves. He can often be found reading books about Mussolini and tank warfare. His greatest dream is to invent an eighteen foot high mechanical spider, which has an antimatter lazer attached to its back.

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