Although I generally avoid the news (I do ‘the ostrich’ on it), one could not help watching the amazing scenes from New Orleans. Founded in 1718, the world-famous city is now destroyed with thousands of its inhabitants dead and over a million homeless, victim of the Category 5 Hurricane Katrina.
Opponents of the US Government/policies/people (some consider them one and the same) will say that this is karma. Some will say that God caused it, punishment for the direct and indirect oppression of Muslims. Moving away from religious mumbo-jumbo, some may argue that the US is merely, and unfortunately, ‘reaping what they sowed’.
While this view can be easily dismissed as simplistic, naive or even disgustingly facetious, in one way it is based in fact.
George Bush stormed his way to power for a second term on the back of a campaign that focused on the threat from abroad and the importance of winning the war on terror. The number of people likely to be confirmed dead from Hurricane Katrina will rival the number killed by Al Qaeda on September 11th 2001. Statistically you would hope that Bush might wake up and recognise that his Middle East tunnel vision has actually forsaken the people who voted him in last year.
If you want to get political about it you could bring up the fact that in June George Bush cut over $70 million from the New Orleans Corps of Engineers budget – a 40%+ cut. You could also raise your eyebrows at Bush’s administration repealing the Clinton Government’s policies on wetlands. Why is this important? Wetlands on the Gulf Coast apparently behave as a natural buffer between the cities and storms at sea. Clinton tried to stop these areas falling in to the hands of developers – but Bush put a stop to that. While this was not a decision that affected the damage caused by Katrina one way or the other, it’s an indication of where the American Government places the environment on its list of priorities (controlling Middle East countries, rewarding big business with tax cuts and huge Government contracts sitting above it, for example).
With the cost of rebuilding New Orleans set to top $100 billion, Bush is now fighting a war at home and abroad, his approval rating never lower.
Bush created the war in Iraq and, per day, spends $186 million of tax-payers money there. For their money the American people can count a growing list of US casualties, an inflating dossier marked ‘Reasons to loathe America’ and an ever-increasing national deficit that, at current spending levels, is set to double in the next ten years, on the list of achievements.
Add to this the fact that the war was not only illegal but also based on downright lies/misinformation (delete as fits your level of cynicism) about weapons of mass destruction.
You can be sure that Americans – including poor Southerners of Louisiana who bleed red, white and blue and who overwhelmingly brought Bush back to power – don’t care a jot about Iraq any more. They just want him to protect America. It’s now obvious that it is a job that begins at home.