Chalk up the city of New Orleans as a cost of
Bush's Iraq war.
There were not enough helicopters to repair the breached levees and rescue
people trapped by rising water. Nor are there enough Louisiana National Guardsmen
available to help with rescue efforts and to patrol against looting.
The situation is the same in Mississippi.
The National Guard and helicopters are off on a fool's mission in Iraq.
The National Guard is in Iraq because fanatical neoconservatives in the Bush
administration were determined to invade the Middle East and because incompetent
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld refused to listen to the generals, who told him
there were not enough regular troops available to do the job.
After the invasion, the arrogant Rumsfeld found out that the generals were
right. The National Guard was called up to fill in the gaping gaps.
Now the Guardsmen, trapped in the Iraqi quagmire, are watching on TV the families
they left behind trapped by rising waters and wondering if the floating bodies
are family members. None know where their dislocated families are, but, shades
of Fallujah, they do see their destroyed homes.
The mayor of New Orleans was counting on helicopters to put in place massive
sandbags to repair the levee. However, someone called the few helicopters away
to rescue people from rooftops. The rising water overwhelmed the massive pumping
stations, and New Orleans disappeared under deep water.
What a terrible casualty of the Iraqi war – one of our oldest and most beautiful
cities, a famous city, a historic city.
Distracted by its phony war on terrorism, the U.S. government had made no preparations
in the event Hurricane Katrina brought catastrophe to New Orleans. No contingency
plan existed. Only now after the disaster are FEMA and the Corps of Engineers
trying to assemble the material and equipment to save New Orleans from the fate
Even worse, articles in the New Orleans Times-Picayune and public statements
by emergency management chiefs in New Orleans make it clear that the Bush administration
slashed the funding for the Corps of Engineers' projects to strengthen and raise
the New Orleans levees and diverted the money to the Iraq war.
Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, told
the New Orleans Times-Picayune (June 8, 2004): "It appears that
the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security
and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is
happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can
to make the case that this is a security issue for us."
Why can't the U.S. government focus on America's needs and leave other countries
alone? Why are American troops in Iraq instead of protecting our own borders
from a mass invasion by illegal immigrants? Why are American helicopters blowing
up Iraqi homes instead of saving American homes in New Orleans?
How can the Bush administration be so incompetent as to expose Americans at
home to dire risks by exhausting American resources in foolish foreign adventures?
What kind of "homeland security" is this?
All Bush has achieved by invading Iraq is to kill and wound thousands of people
while destroying America's reputation. The only beneficiaries are oil companies
capitalizing on a good excuse to jack up the price of gasoline and Osama bin
What we have is a Republican war for oil company profits while New Orleans
sinks beneath the waters.
* * * * *
On the day Katrina devastated New Orleans, America
lost its most optimistic pundit, Jude Wanniski, who died of a heart attack at
age 69. Jude often misplaced his optimism, but he was never without it. Jude
never gave up on anyone and would invest his persuasive talents on everyone
who would listen and even on those who wouldn't. Jude was not an economist,
but he understood long before most economists that fiscal policy changed incentives
and affected aggregate supply in contrast to the Keynesian emphasis on aggregate
demand. Jude rose to fame as the publicist for supply-side economics. As a journalist,
he was a natural. Robert Bartley, the Wall Street Journal editorial page
editor, once told me that Jude had the best nose for news of any journalist
he had ever known. Those he favored with his missives will miss his insights.