Monday, May 07, 2007

A tale of two disasters

By Michael J.W. Stickings

This is all that's left of the high school in Greensburg, Kansas (photo from the Globe). CBS: "The death toll from a tornado that nearly obliterated this farming town climbed to 10 on Monday." It seems that 95 percent of the town was destroyed. But what is hindering the response to the disaster? Iraq, says Governor Sebelius:

The rebuilding effort in tornado-ravaged Greensburg, Kansas, likely will be hampered because some much-needed equipment is in Iraq, said that state’s governor.

Governor Kathleen Sebelius said much of the National Guard equipment usually positioned around the state to respond to emergencies is gone. She said not having immediate access to things like tents, trucks and semitrailers will really handicap the rebuilding effort.

Yet another huge cost of the disaster that is the Iraq War, one usually left out of the debate. As if it's not bad enough that the Iraq War has hindered America's ability to fight the so-called war on terror and to respond to crises around the world, it seems now that the war has also hindered America's ability to respond to its own crises, that is, to help Americans in times of need -- to help entire communities that have been destroyed. This may not be the sort of post-Katrina incompetence that revealed the bungling ineffectuality of the Bush Administration, but it's just as damning.

Think Progress has the video of Sebelius on CNN: "Well, states all over the country are not only missing personnel, National Guard troops are -- about 40 percent of the troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan -- but we're missing the equipment. When the troops get deployed, the equipment goes with them. So, here in Kansas, about 50 percent of our trucks are gone. We need trucks. We're missing Humvees, we're missing all kinds of equipment that can help us respond to this kind of emergency."

See also The Carpetbagger Report, The Mahablog, and The Gun Toting Liberal.

And here's MyDD with the political context: "Bush has a 37-58 approval/disapproval rating in that state, and it's only going to get worse as the connection between Iraq and the slower recovery is drawn. Iraq is an all-encompassing issue, and will devastate Republicans in 2008."

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