As the pressure mounts on the media to figure out more and more creative ways to blame the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on the Bush administration, a front-page New York Times article by David Sanger appears to lay the post-hurricane looting right at the White House doorstep:
Even before Hurricane Katrina, governors were beginning to question whether National Guard units stretched to the breaking point by service in Iraq would be available for domestic emergencies. Those concerns have now been amplified by scenes of looting and disorder.
But while the National Guard was called in quickly, there are already questions about whether the aid would be swifter if deployments to Iraq were not so intense: Mississippi has 3,800 Guard troops in Iraq, and Louisiana has about 3,000.
Of course, as the article says, this represents less than 40% of Louisiana’s total National Guard force, which, ergo, means that more than 60% are still in the state.
Yet, we don’t want to end with just blaming the president for the looting, do we?
Excuse me? In the past 32 years since the first energy crisis, has our nation once demonstrated a preparedness for an oil shock? Moreover, what does the conflict in Iraq have to do with 9% of our nation’s oil refineries being damaged by a hurricane?
Even before returning to Washington, Mr. Bush approved loans from the country's Strategic Oil Reserve. But that is at best a short-term measure, and should prices continue to rise, Mr. Bush will inevitably confront the question of whether his administration was ill prepared to absorb an oil shock at a time of conflict in the Middle East.