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Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Ascendancy of Federal Troops (Continued)

I think my initial hunch was correct--when people have talked about hurricanes in the past, they didn't use the term "federal troops" as often as they do now.

What I think is actually happening is that we're hearing a lot more about "federal troops" because the National Guard and Coast Guard have needed reinforcement. In past hurricanes and national disasters, you didn't hear as much about federal troops because federal troops weren't necessary, and the government wanted to avoid legal and constitutional isssues related to the Posse Commitatus Act if at all possible.

It's not a conspiracy, but rather the logical consequence of a massive storm coupled with having 1/3 of the national guard in Iraq. It's completely natural, too, that some slacker reporters might muddle terminology.

Nevertheless, I could see how the muddying of terms could serve political interests. For example, if the Federal Troops umbrella covers all military and quasi-military forces, then people will begin to associate any respose other than those of NGOs as the activity of the Federal government. For better or worse, the association of the Federal Govm't. with the military would become greater. I could see how both Democratic and Republican tacticians could use that to their advantage. If someone associated with crafting purely polical responses to the tragedy hasn't noticed this yet, I'd be suprised.

The combined effect of hearing "Federal Troops" over and over again made me speculate that General Sherman was heading south for another campaign. I really have to wonder if hearing that term over and over again might rub some southerners the wrong way. I also wonder why, when we refer to soldiers in Iraq, we don't use the same "federal troops" label.

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