The raison d’tre of the Bush administration is war in the Middle East in order to protect America from terrorism and to insure America’s oil supply. On both counts the Bush administration has failed catastrophically.
Bush’s single-minded focus on the "war against terrorism" has compounded a natural disaster and turned it into the greatest calamity in American history. The US has lost its largest and most strategic port, thousands of lives, and 80% of one of America’s most historic cities is under water.
If terrorists had achieved this result, it would rank as the greatest terrorist success in history.
Prior to 911, the Federal Emergency Management Agency warned that New Orleans was a disaster waiting to happen. Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA) in order to protect the strategic port, the refineries, and the large population.
However, after 2003 the flow of funds to SELA were diverted to the war in Iraq. During 2004 and 2005 the New Orleans Times-Picayune published nine articles citing New Orleans’ loss of hurricane protection to the war in Iraq.
Every expert and newspapers as distant as Texas saw the New Orleans catastrophe coming. But President Bush and his insane government preferred war in Iraq to protecting Americans at home.
Bush’s war left the Corps of Engineers only 20% of the funding to protect New Orleans from flooding from Lake Pontchartrain. On June 18, 2004, the Corps’ project manager, Al Naomi, told the Times-Picayune: "the levees are sinking. If we don’t get the money to raise them, we can’t stay ahead of the settlement."
Despite the dire warnings delivered by the 2004 hurricane season, the Bush administration made deep budget cuts for flood control and hurricane funding for New Orleans. The US Senate, alarmed at the Bush administration’s insanity, was planning to restore the funding for 2006. But now it is too late. Many multiples of the funding that would have saved the city now have to be spent to rescue it.
Not content with leaving New Orleans unprotected, it took the Bush administration five days to get the remnants of the National Guard not serving in Iraq, along with desperately needed food and water, to devastated New Orleans. This is the slowest emergency response by the US government in modern times. By the time the Bush administration could organize any resources for New Orleans, many more people had died and the city was in total chaos.
Despite the most dismal performance on record, Bush’s Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff, said on Thursday that the Bush administration has done a "magnificent job."
The on-the-scene mayor of New Orleans sees it differently: "They’re feeding the people a line of bull, and they are spinning and people are dying."
"They’re thinking small man, and this is a major, major deal."
It is a major deal, one that will affect Americans far beyond New Orleans. According to reports, 25% of our oil and gasoline comes through the New Orleans port and refineries, all out of commission. Needed goods cannot be imported, and exports will plummet, worsening an already disastrous deficit in the balance of trade.
The increased cost of gasoline will soak up consumers’ disposable incomes, with dire effects on consumer spending. US economic growth will be siphoned off into higher energy costs. American lives far from New Orleans will be adversely affected.
The destruction of New Orleans is the responsibility of the most incompetent government in American history and perhaps in all history. Americans are rapidly learning that they were deceived by the superpower hubris. The powerful US military cannot successfully occupy Baghdad or control the road to the airport — and this against an insurgency based in only 20% of the Iraqi population. Bush’s pointless war has left Washington so pressed for money that the federal government abandoned New Orleans to catastrophe.
The Bush administration is damned by its gross incompetence. Bush has squandered the lives and health of thousands of people. He has run through hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars. He has lost America’s reputation and its allies. With barbaric torture and destruction of our civil liberty, he has stripped America of its inherent goodness and morality. And now Bush has lost America’s largest port and 25 percent of its oil supply. Why? Because Bush started a gratuitous war egged on by a claque of crazy neoconservatives who have sacrificed America’s interests to their insane agenda.
The neoconservatives have brought these disasters to all Americans, Democrat and Republican alike. Now they must he held accountable. Bush and his neoconservatives are guilty of criminal negligence and must be prosecuted.
What will it take for Americans to reestablish accountability in their government? Bush has got away with lies and an illegal war of aggression, with outing CIA agents, with war crimes against Iraqi civilians, with the horrors of the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo torture centers, and now with the destruction of New Orleans.
What disaster will next spring from Bush’s incompetence?
Dr. Roberts [send him mail] is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, former contributing editor for National Review, and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.