David Corn's blog
discusses how in the course of nine days in 1940, with no advance planning, the UK evacuated 338,226 troops from Dunkirk and another 200,000 back across the British Channel to safety. This is a very high bar, but it shows what can happen with competent leadership.
That is not how a country responds to disaster, and it is pathetic that our government and leadership cannot expect or inspire more. I was thinking about the comparison to Dunkirk, when the British military fell victim to a massive miscalculation about the strength of Nazi troops (the parallels abound). The British figured out, on the fly, how to evacuate 338,226 troops between May 26 and June 4, 1940, from the beaches of Dunkirk, often using small privately owned craft to get in out to the shore.
* * *
Over 200,000 were also evaluated from other coastal towns. This was all accomplished with little or no time to plan, under fierce bombardment and aerial attack. Legend says the troops were treated to hero's welcome with special trains and high tea waiting at the British shore.
We are pathetic.
It's hard to argue with that, especially as we see refugees bussed from the Superdome being turned away from the Astrodome in Houston. Meanwhile, I keep getting emails from people who ask such questions as, "If we could airdrop crank-radios to Iraqis before the invasion so that they could get news and critical information, why can't we do that in New Orleans."