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A Sept. 16 letter to the Empire attempted to absolve President Bush of all blame for the tragic circumstances surrounding the devastating assault of Katrina on the Gulf Coast states. Well, it turns out the president acknowledges a share of blame. So should others and so should we, the American electorate. We elected him twice. Consider the following:
Early in his presidency, Bush launched the unjustified war on Iraq. Do the consequences of this presidential decision have relevance to the devastating results of Katrina? Absolutely. The federal government should have been ready to effectively respond to the ravages of the storm, but was not.
The Bush presidency has been resolutely focused on the war and the consequential danger of terrorism. The Iraq misadventure has deteriorated into a tragic morass. Almost 2,000 American and coalition soldiers are dead. Countless thousands of innocent Iraqis and other noncombatants are dead. More are dying every day and there is no end in sight. And the costs of the war are fast becoming unacceptable. How can it be said that the Bush administration's obsessive focus on Iraq and the "war on terrorism" was not in large measure responsible for the federal government's inadequate response to the Katrina disaster?
Presumably, to make Americans safer from terrorist attacks, President Bush created the Department of Homeland Security and made the ill-fated mistake of placing the Federal Emergency Management Agency under the aegis of his new creation. Predictably, resources were drained from FEMA. Things were made worse when competent professionals were replaced by unqualified political hacks. It cannot be denied that this administration is responsible for converting FEMA from a highly efficient organization into the manifestation of ineptitude we've seen floundering around on the Gulf Coast during the last couple of weeks
Here is another fact that must be faced. President Bush had the power during his first term to see that work on improvement and repair of the levees protecting New Orleans was begun. With his sacrosanct tax cuts in place, he declined to authorize sufficient funds for the recommended levee project, a project that might have saved New Orleans.
I close with the suggestion that we all keep an eye on the Bush administration's attitude toward global warming and new scientific evidence of a relationship between global warming and the increased severity of tropical storms such as Katrina.