No longer mincing words, a New York Times editorial puts the blame for the current post-Katrina disaster area in New Orleans squarely on the backs of the Bush administration and its diverted attention to the war in Iraq:
Watching helplessly from afar, many citizens wondered whether rescue operations were hampered because almost one-third of the men and women of the Louisiana National Guard, and an even higher percentage of the Mississippi National Guard, were 7,000 miles away, fighting in Iraq. That's an even bigger loss than the raw numbers suggest because many of these part-time soldiers had to leave behind their full-time jobs in police and fire departments or their jobs as paramedics. Regardless of whether they wear public safety uniforms in civilian life, the guardsmen in Iraq are a crucial resource sorely missed during these early days, when hours have literally meant the difference between evacuation and inundation, between civic order and chaos, between life and death.
But it's already a very costly game of catch-up. The situation might have been considerably less dire if all of Louisiana's and Mississippi's National Guard had been mobilized before the storm so they could organize, enforce and aid in the evacuation of vulnerable low-lying areas. Plans should have been drawn up for doing so, with sufficient trained forces available to carry them out.