Poe’s Law states that anything written on the Internet that does not explicitly label itself as parody will be widely interpreted as earnest. This is a big problem on social media, where it is relatively easy to fool and to get fooled. But I find myself worrying that I am mistaking parody for straight news reporting every time I read about the American-built pier in Gaza, which is intended to increase the amount of humanitarian aid entering the Strip.

Here’s the good news: The pier is operative and food is being delivered to it.

The bad news: That’s the only part of the process that works. Before the trucks ferrying the food can reach their warehouse destination a few miles away, they are robbed and looted and emptied of their goodies.

Today, Defense Department press secretary Major Gen. Patrick Ryder was asked if any—any—of the aid delivered to the pier has reached the people of Gaza. His response: “I do not believe” it has.

I would have worried that I was a victim of Poe’s Law here—that I was reading an unmarked parody of U.S. aid foibles—were it not for the fact that Reuters published a fairly comprehensive report yesterday about the same subject. The key part:

The U.N. said that 10 truckloads of food aid — transported from the pier site by U.N. contractors — were received on Friday at a World Food Programme warehouse in Deir El Balah in Gaza.

But on Saturday, only five truckloads made it to the warehouse after 11 others were cleaned out by Palestinians during the journey through an area that a U.N. official said has been hard to access with humanitarian aid.

“They’ve not seen trucks for a while,” a U.N. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters. “They just basically mounted on the trucks and helped themselves to some of the food parcels.”

All right. Let’s take this one point at a time. In that first sentence, we learn that the UN is responsible for taking the food from the pier to the warehouse, and also that some trucks have gotten through. That is not the same as the food getting to the Palestinians who need it, so it’s possible there are further problems that haven’t been identified or solved. It’s also possible that Ryder was talking about a certain day’s shipments when he said that none of the food has gotten to its intended recipients. Either way, it’s a major problem.

The second sentence from the Reuters story strongly suggests that at least a large portion of the food is being chaotically looted rather than stolen in an organized manner by, say, Hamas.

Finally, the UN official’s explanation for this disaster is one for the books. “They’ve not seen trucks in a while,” so they mount the trucks. This sounds like the description of a spacecraft landing on an alien planet. Moreover, it appears the UN… expected this response?

In fact, it sure sounds like the UN thinks this whole circus is a waste of time and money, and that they told the Americans as much: “The U.N. agreed to assist in coordinating aid distribution from the floating pier, but has remained adamant that deliveries by land are the best way to combat the crisis.”

That is certainly true: The pier has a far more limited capacity than the traditional overland crossings. It’s also expensive: The U.S. paid over $300 million to build what sounds like a pop-up pier ordered from IKEA. The Defense Department, via Ryder, is describing every cent of that $300 million as wasted. After all, the aid disappears into the mists of time as soon as the Americans hand it over to the UN’s version of Uber Eats.

Ironically, on paper this still makes the pier a complete success. America does its job quite well. The pier is built, food is delivered to it, and nary a boot is on the ground. Promises made, promises kept. Truly, this is the quintessential government project.

Years ago, there was a TV commercial for a security system that went something like this: We see a security breach reported, an alarm sounds, sector 13’s guard chases an intruder while radioing for help. The guard chases the intruder all the way to a line on the ground that marks where sector 13 ends and sector 14 begins. When the perp crosses that line, the guard radios triumphantly: “Sector 13, all clear.”

The Pentagon sounds an awful lot like sector 13’s security guard. Once the handoff is made, the rest is sector 14’s problem. According to Ryder, about 570 metric tons of aid has been delivered to the pier since its grand opening. Apparently, Americans should be proud that we are doing our part.

And in a way, we are. Statistically, it is highly likely that at least some of those stealing the food aid are its intended recipients. They’re just cutting out the middle man. In a way, hijackings and lootings make the process more efficient.

More dangerous too, sure. But not for Americans, and therefore not for the president’s reelection chances. Sector 13, all clear.

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