Quakes, Nazis and People

Quakes It took Emperor George W. about nine months to kill a few thousand Iraqis and a few hundred Americans. It took only about 18 seconds for an earthquake to kill tens of thousands of Iranians. The dead that Bush spread on the soil of Iraq will be part of history. Their fate will be analyzed by historians, by academic scholars, by journalists, etc for decades in the future. The dead Iranians will be forgotten by everyone but their relatives.

And it is not only the dead Iranians. The people crippled for life are may times the number of the dead. The survivors will have no decent place to live for decades. Worldwide it takes about 30 years of daily labor for the average family to earn the money needed to secure a roof over their heads. Most of he Iraqis that survived at least have their houses, no matter how dilligently the Wolfowitz-Rumsefld mercenaries try to bulldoze to the ground some of these family buildings. (By the way, who was the originator of this bright idea of bulldozing family buildings? Was it the Israelis or the Pentagon “analysts” in past decades? See below for the answer.) Can an earthquake, a natural phenomenon, be a political problem? That it is a painfully huge problem cannot be disputed. When a quake hits any part of the world the government officials and the media all they talk about is the Richters of the quake, the existence of faults, and finally the number of the dead (with an effort to minimize that number as much as possible). There is very little talk (or none at all) about the real CAUSE of the catastrophe; the BUILDINGS. Almost simultaneously with the quake in Iran there was a quake of the same magnitude in California. The dead were less than half a dozen. The persons responsible for the “structural design” (i.e. the strength) of buildings are the civil engineers. So we listen to the voice of a USGS geologist on CNN telling us that it was the difference in the structural design of buildings that caused the difference in the number of dead people.

The USGS (United States Geological Survey) is a very good scientific institution, probably the best in the world, for recording and analyzing seismic data (i.e. Richters, faults, etc), but it has nothing to do with buildings. It seems that the journalists in CNN and the rest of the media in the world are not aware of the existence of civil engineers. So, if the civil engineers are responsible for the design of buildings why there are tens of thousands of dead people each year, because of earthquakes? The answer: The final decision for the kind of structures in a country is taken by politicians. Let us examine a couple of cases. Take Athens: Seismologists and geologists for a century had been telling engineers that Athens was not a quake-prone area. Then in 1986 Athens was hit by a quite big earthquake. The error of the seismologists was insignificant compared to the “criminal” decision of the politicians who not only allowed but promoted the construction of multistory (6 stories on average) apartment buildings with concrete bearing frames (beams and columns).

The 1986 quake “wounded” these concrete frames. Then in 1999 another quake hit Athens aggravating even more the wounds in the concrete frames. Thus now, Athens, a city of about 4 million people, is “expecting” the next quake. The inhabitants are not entirely aware of the situation. The politicians do not give a shit. Or, take Tehran: We read in the N.Y.Times (1/06/04): “The head of the country’s (Iran’s) Supreme National Security Council, Hassan Rowhani, told Iranian state television that the idea of moving the capital was being studied by the council…” Rowhani “is one of the most influential men in the Regime and also a great realist” (Sueddeutsche Zeitung, 7/01/04), which probably means he is a cleric. Thus the final decision for the lives of the 12 million people in Tehran will be taken by a cleric!

Of course, he will have the advice of experts. Alireza Sarhadi, the head of the union of civil engineers, claims that “according to a recent study some 70 percent of buildings would be destroyed in Tehran if it were struck by an earthquake with a similar magnitude of the one in Bam”.

Bahram Akasheh, professor of geophisics, wrote that “such an earthquake would kill more than 700,000 in Tehran and destroy government buildings…” (How does he know , he is not an engineer). Nasser Karami, another scientist, does not agree with the moving of the capital to an other place. He proposes “that old buildings be strengthened instead. He argued that the only seismologically safe places in the country were the unlivable desert of central Iran”. So, what will the cleric decide? What then is the solution for the survival of the people in quake-prone areas? Light, one-story structures. Strangely the main objections comes from ecologists who claim that if you spread the people on the surface of the earth and not aim buildings towards heaven you will destroy nature.

Let us test this by going back to the examples of Athens and Tehran. Athens before WW II was a city of mostly one-story buildings (seismically wrongly built of heavy stone masonry). Then after WW II, the British and then the Americans, since 1947, drove one half of the population of the country from their villages to Athens to deprive the leftist guerrillas of the support of the villagers.

Later the Americans applied the experience gained in Greece to institute the program of “strategic hamlets” (i. e. concentration camps) in Vietnam. Those Greek villages that were abandoned are still there as ghost villages with a few dozen inhabitants. Therefore there is not going to be a spread of one-story buildings over the surface of the country. The people will simply return to them. Similarly, Tehran grew to a monstrous 12 million city after the (US supported) Iraq-Iran war. Millions of villagers converged to Tehran to find work. The villages are still there with one-story buildings (seismically wrongly built of heavy mud brick masonry). It is interesting (and very helpful in our search for a solution) to note that an American Society of Civil Engineers Committee (55) of 1906 after the 1906 quake in San Francisco concluded for buildings of masonry walls that this type of construction was “hopelessly inadequate” to resist earthquakes.

That conclusion by civil engineers was reached a century ago! As usually happens it was ignored by the governing elite in different quake-prone countries as they had more important matters to attend to, for example how to improve the tools of war. What, then, can the ordinary people do to survive the strike of a quake. The answer, as in all social matters: Try to take their fate in their own hands; for example in a “parecon” way. Determine, with the help of engineers and their own ingenuity, how can light one-story houses be built with mostly local material. Refuse to live in dangerous houses built by the profit-seeking elite; thus demolishing this “criminal” market. Form committees at all levels, neighborhood, county, city, etc, to discuss the problem. This will take years if not decades. Otherwise, the number of dead in future earthquakes will continue to compete with the number of dead strewn by the Emperors.

Nazis The heading of the article by Jeffrey Gettleman in the International Herald Tribune of 31/12/03-01/01/04 reads: “Two months in Iraq, and a sergeant’s world went dark”. The text under the accompanying photo reads: “Brace Feldbusch leading his son Jeremy, who went blind in Iraq, to a Pearl Harbor Day dinner in Blairsville, Pennsylvania”.

The 24-year-old 6-foot-2 Jeremy Feldbusch is wearing his uniform and there is a smile in his face. An “inchlong, piece of steel, part of (an) artillery shell’s casing, sliced through his right eye, tumbled through his sinuses and lodged in the left side of his brain, severely damaging the optic nerve of his left eye and spraying bone splinters throughout his brain”. Leading Jeremy is his father, Brace, a well-shaped “former coal miner who lost two fingers to a coal cart before he lost his job”. Jeremy’s mother, Charlene Feldbusch, “stopped working to take care of her son”. Now, according to George W. Bush I should feel jealous of this American family. How I feel can be understood through the thoughts that passed through my mind as I was reading this article. I thought of about a dozen lower middle-class and middle-class Greek families that I happen to know.

Each of the families has two or three children, in their middle or late twenties. Most of them speak two or three languages. Most of them have university degrees from schools in London, Edinburgh, Paris, or the USA. The families lead normal lives and the most pressing problems seem to be the future marriages of the children.

Also, I thought of the billions of dollars that the Greek government has borrowed during the last few weeks to keep the country running and to probably pay for the preparation of the Olympic Games or for jet-fighters. Also, I thought that many of these dollars are US taxpayers’ dollars; dollars of the Feldbushes of America.

Furthermore, I thought that in the end the US, as it did in Turkey and elsewhere, will help out economically the Greek Government elites to maintain them as proxies of the US foreign policy. Why should the Feldbusches have to pay the Bushes and also have their son sent to Iraq? Yet, equally bad fate, as that of Jeremy, awaits the children of the families that Bush sent to Iraq. And the pain will not be only physical. It is going to be mostly moral. During WW II, when the resistance against the Nazis in occupied countries reached a really threatening point for them, they applied the rule of the ratio: for one German soldier killed, 200 civilians were executed by the Nazis. For example in the Greek village of Distomo, not only were more than 200 civilians killed, but also the family houses of the villagers were burned to the ground. There were no Caterpillar bulldozers available to the Germans. Besides the fire was equally effective. Today, the Israelis and the Americans are more humane they raze the houses selectively. The guerilla war in Iraq is reaching the point that inevitably will demand the application of the rule of ratio, by Bush, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz. Are the young American soldiers prepared to kill innocent civilians in the hundreds and in the thousands? Are their families prepared to look their children in the eyes, after such acts, when they return back home? This tragic situation boils down to the question: WHY did young Jeremy Feldbusch have to lose his sight? Or, WHY the other young Americans are turned into murderers? The question can only be answered by the American people.

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