Five years after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans -a natural disaster with unnatural responses -led to the death of an estimated 1,800 people and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of others, the lesson has not yet been learned.
While US President Barack Obama acknowledged that the disaster was "a man-made catastrophe -a shameful breakdown in government that left countless men, women and children abandoned and alone" he still missed the point, not only in New Orleans, but also in earthquake-wrecked Haiti and flood-hit Pakistan.
Enemies of the state
Witness accounts show that there was almost a sense of official contempt for the people of New Orleans that often went beyond criminal negligence. Some residents felt that they were being treated like enemies in a war zone and not as Americans in distress.
Protecting businesses has become more important than saving lives, even though most of the products in those shops were doomed to destruction by the rising level of water that covered most of the city. Symbolically, it looked like a determination to protect the "market" even when trade has ceased, where the "capital" can perish as long as it does not reach the people in need.
But things went beyond shooting at suspected "looters" and treating people as if they were guilty of crimes that they were not even aware of. There was a sense of detachment from the suffering of those who were in urgent need of drinking water. There were many reported instances where the security forces had the opportunity to help, but preferred to do nothing or, worse, watch.
Even today, there is still little mention of the poor infrastructure of New Orleans which magnified the effect of the hurricane. Apart from alternative media outlets such as 'Democracy Now!' and others, even less mention is given to those who might be held responsible.
As in Haiti, the impact of natural disasters would have been tremendously less had the proper infrastructure been in place. And as in Haiti, successive US government policies share a large portion of the blame.
When interviewing some of the audience of a moving play last year -'Katrina' by Jonathan Holmes (which was based on the accounts of six witnesses from New Orleans) - I discovered that people were shocked that such things happened to Americans. They were not at all surprised that the US authorities would act in such a manner but surely not against their own people.
The Iraq-God connection