"It looks like Hiroshima is what it looks like,"
I didn't think it was a very appropriate analogy for an American leader to be making on the sixtieth anniversary of that most horrific of mass murders which killed 140 000 people.
How could she make a comparison between a bomb that her government dropped on an already broken and defeated people, and a hurricane that made landfall on the shores of the most powerful empire of all time? Then I looked a little further and found out that the governor may not be that far off.
I was met by a host of articles that talk about how the disaster off the Gulf Coast was a lot more than just a natural disaster. Why the Levy Broke, by Will Bunch shows how the Bush Administration diverted funds for mundane water defenses into the Iraq War, Homeland Security and tax breaks for the rich,
Washington knew that this day could come at any time, and it knew the things that needed to be done to protect the citizens of New Orleans. But in the tradition of the riverboat gambler, the Bush administration decided to roll the dice on its fool's errand in Iraq, and on a tax cut that mainly benefited the rich. Now Bush has lost that gamble, big time.
The president told us that we needed to fight in Iraq to save lives here at home. Yet -- after moving billions of domestic dollars to the Persian Gulf -- there are bodies floating through the streets of Louisiana. What does George W. Bush have to say for himself now?
Sidney Blumenthal's September 1st piece,
No One Can Say they Didn't See it Coming, goes beyond the war to the development of local wetlands that were allowed by the Administration,
The Bush administration's policy of turning over wetlands to developers almost certainly also contributed to the heightened level of the storm surge. In 1990, a federal task force began restoring lost wetlands surrounding New Orleans. Every two miles of wetland between the Crescent City and the Gulf reduces a surge by half a foot. Bush had promised "no net loss" of wetlands, a policy launched by his father's administration and bolstered by President Clinton. But he reversed his approach in 2003, unleashing the developers. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency then announced they could no longer protect wetlands unless they were somehow related to interstate commerce.
In response to this potential crisis, four leading environmental groups conducted a joint expert study, concluding in 2004 that without wetlands protection New Orleans could be devastated by an ordinary, much less a Category 4 or 5, hurricane. "There's no way to describe how mindless a policy that is when it comes to wetlands protection," said one of the report's authors. The chairman of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality dismissed the study as "highly questionable," and boasted, "Everybody loves what we're doing."
At the end of his article Blumenthal writes,
On the day the levees burst in New Orleans, Bush delivered a speech in Colorado comparing the Iraq war to World War II and himself to Franklin D. Roosevelt: "And he knew that the best way to bring peace and stability to the region was by bringing freedom to Japan." Bush had boarded his very own "Streetcar Named Desire."
So he wasn't the only one making World War Two analogies this week, although I've always thought he was more of a Truman than a Roosevelt. Governor Barbour may have been right to compare the devastation between Hiroshima and the Gulf states, it seems that in each case the unnecessarily high number of casualties was avoidable, and simply a by-product of the empire's war machine.