Does this mean the United States is now in an undeclared state of civil war?
From the September 2 article titled "Troops begin combat operations in New Orleans":
NEW ORLEANS - Combat operations are underway on the streets "to take this city back" in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.Link. The Army Times is published by Army Times Publishing Company, a Gannett subsidiary which prints "newsweeklies widely read by United States military people and their families, federal employees and defense and aerospace industry leaders worldwide." (via Ned Sublette, thanks to Tulane University alumnus Andew Breitbart.)
"This place is going to look like Little Somalia," Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard's Joint Task Force told Army Times Friday as hundreds of armed troops under his charge prepared to launch a massive citywide security mission from a staging area outside the Louisiana Superdome. "We're going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control."
Jones said the military first needs to establish security throughout the city. Military and police officials have said there are several large areas of the city are in a full state of anarchy. Dozens of military trucks and up-armored Humvees left the staging area just after 11 a.m. Friday, while hundreds more troops arrived at the same staging area in the city via Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters.
"We're here to do whatever they need us to do," Sgt. 1st Class Ron Dixon, of the Oklahoma National Guard's 1345th Transportation Company. "We packed to stay as long as it takes."
While some fight the insurgency in the city, other carry on with rescue and evacuation operations. Helicopters are still pulling hundreds of stranded people from rooftops of flooded homes.
Update: Many readers have written in to ask why I find the use of the word "insurgency" alarming in this context. Let's start with the definition:
an organized rebellion aimed at overthrowing a constituted government through the use of subversion and armed conflictNot much in New Orleans is "organized" right now, least of all the utterly desperate victims of this disaster. A small percentage of these survivors have engaged in violent behavior. This is taking place in the context of widespread death, and lack of food, water, shelter -- complete collapse of social structure. As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said yesterday:
They're showing all these reports of people looting and doing all that weird stuff, and they are doing that, but people are desperate and they're trying to find food and water, the majority of them.Junkies and desperate people in dehumanizing conditions without homes, hope, or the most basic resources for survival. The context doesn't make crime acceptable. It doesn't lessen the very real dangers for military and law enforcement personnel tasked with the daunting job of restoring security. But it doesn't make an entire population "insurgents" either.
Now you got some knuckleheads out there, and they are taking advantage of this lawless -- this situation where, you know, we can't really control it, and they're doing some awful, awful things. But that's a small [minority] of the people. Most people are looking to try and survive.
And one of the things people -- nobody's talked about this. Drugs flowed in and out of New Orleans and the surrounding metropolitan area so freely it was scary to me, and that's why we were having the escalation in murders. People don't want to talk about this, but I'm going to talk about it.
You have drug addicts that are now walking around this city looking for a fix, and that's the reason why they were breaking in hospitals and drugstores. They're looking for something to take the edge off of their jones, if you will.
And right now, they don't have anything to take the edge off. And they've probably found guns. So what you're seeing is drug-starving crazy addicts, drug addicts, that are [wreaking] havoc.
We often hear the term used by military leaders or politicians to refer to armed entities in Iraq and other war zones overseas.
We are talking about fellow American citizens here -- in America.
Not insurgents. Not refugees. Not enemies. Americans.