Saturday, March 03, 2007
The NYT's Frank Rich on the lessons of Katrina and Iraq:
If you had to put a date on when the Iraq war did in the Bush administration, it would be late summer 2005. That’s when the bungled federal response to Hurricane Katrina re-enacted the White House bungling of the war, this time with Americans as the principal victims. The stuff happening on Brownie’s watch in New Orleans was recognizably the same stuff that had happened on Donald Rumsfeld’s watch in Baghdad. Television viewers connected the dots and the president’s poll numbers fell into the 30s. There they have largely remained — at least until Friday, when the latest New York Times-CBS News Poll put him at 29.Mr. Rich's immediate subject is the scandalous treatment of Iraq War veterans at Walter Reed Hospital (about which more here), but a recent WaPo story, recommended by our august colleague Rorschach of No Capital, reminds us that the worst disasters may be those yet to come:
Nearly 90 percent of Army National Guard units in the United States are rated "not ready" -- largely as a result of shortfalls in billions of dollars' worth of equipment -- jeopardizing their capability to respond to crises at home and abroad, according to a congressional commission that released a preliminary report yesterday on the state of U.S. military reserve forces.Also from Rorschach, concrete evidence that quagmires are bad for the jingo market:
The report found that heavy deployments of the National Guard and reserves since 2001 for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and for other anti-terrorism missions have deepened shortages, forced the cobbling together of units and hurt recruiting.
"We can't sustain the [National Guard and reserves] on the course we're on," said Arnold L. Punaro, chairman of the 13-member Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, established by Congress in 2005. The independent commission, made up mainly of former senior military and civilian officials appointed by both parties, is tasked to study the mission, readiness and compensation of the reserve forces.
"The Department of Defense is not adequately equipping the National Guard for its domestic missions," the commission's report found. It faulted the Pentagon for a lack of budgeting for "civil support" in domestic emergencies, criticizing the "flawed assumption" that as long as the military is prepared to fight a major war, it is ready to respond to a disaster or emergency at home.
[A]s support for the war fades, demand for yellow ribbons has collapsed.
Magnet America, the largest manufacturer of the product, has seen sales fall from a peak of 1.2m in August 2004 to about 4,000 a month and now has an unsold stockpile of about 1m magnets.
“We have enough supplies to meet demand for years to come,” said Micah Pattisall, director of operations. “Every product has a lifespan and this one has run its course.”