Saturday, September 03, 2005

Misplaced priorities

Even a major critic of the Bush administration like me is hard-pressed to directly blame the administration for the catastrophe on the Gulf Coast precipitated by Hurricane Katrina. Nonetheless, there's one aspect of this tragedy for which the administration can definitely be blamed.

The administration has its priorities all wrong. The costs for the Iraq War are approaching $300-billion. That's enough money to completely rebuild every bit of damage wreaked by Katrina and fully reimburse every American impacted by it for their financial losses. However, the Federal government won't be taking anywhere near this comprehensive a scope of the burden for the recovery of the Gulf Coast. It will say it doesn't fit in the budget. Yet, the costs for the Iraq War -- an elective war undertaken only because the president wanted it to happen -- are no problem for the Federal budget to bear?

Furthermore, money is not the only issue. Other resources are diverted away from the Gulf Coast by the Iraq War. We have 150,000 troops in Iraq, not to mention millions of pieces of equipment. Many of the troops are Louisiana's Nation Guard, which should be stationed in Louisiana to respond to homeland threats just like Hurricane Katrina -- that was the intended purpose of the states' National Guard programs, not to fight foreign wars. If they were not on the other side of the planet fighting an unnecessary war, there's no question that vast rescue resources could have been deployed to the Gulf Coast in much shorter order, saving thousands of lives which have since been lost.

Meanwhile, people are still stranded in attics in New Orleans, entire cities are completely flattened in Mississippi, and thousands of American refugees are without food, water, & medicine for nearly a week now. It wasn't until today that the situation in the Gulf Coast has turned from getting progressively worse each day to finally making some headway towards improving the situation, although the situation is still a dire catastrophe. And the major reason why help took so long is because the Bush administration's priority is the Iraq War, diverting vast resources away from the calamity here on our own shores and distracting Federal agencies' attention away from where it should have been focused this past week.

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