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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Great lines of the day 

From a comment on Kos, I found this piece from The Week magazine -- a relatively new magazine (started in 2001) which gathers up opinions and news from around the world and presents a weekly "summary". Here's their summary about Katrina:
Hurricane Katrina was the downfall of the George W. Bush presidency, said Reymer Klüver in Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung. The massive storm that destroyed New Orleans and ravaged the Gulf Coast last year also “cost Bush his credibility as guarantor of the nation’s security.” After the 9/11 attacks, the president looked strong and forceful, addressing firefighters through a megaphone at the smoldering rubble of the World Trade Center. Frightened Americans needed to feel protected, and Bush told them he would keep them safe. But Katrina blew away that facade. “Americans realized that the government was still unprepared for a catastrophe.” Katrina was a natural disaster, but something similar could have happened if terrorists had blown up the levees, or attacked another major city. The president’s approval ratings plummeted, and they have never recovered.
Bush had a chance to salvage the situation, said Spain’s El Pais in an editorial. When he toured the disaster zone a few weeks after the storm, the president pledged that the government would launch “one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen.” He promised to rebuild New Orleans better than ever—just as he promised to rebuild Iraq. But “as the Iraqis discovered, allocating money and using it effectively are two different things.” A full year after the hurricane, half the residents of New Orleans are still displaced. Demolition hasn’t even begun on the rotting houses in the mostly black Ninth Ward.
It’s just another in a long string of Bush failures, said Ray O’Hanlon in Northern Ireland’s Irish News. “The man who talks so much about missions and completing them is surrounded by the wreckage of uncompleted missions.” Iraq is the most obvious, of course, but let’s not forget Afghanistan, where the Taliban is resurgent and Osama bin Laden still walks free. Even the domestic initiatives Bush tried to push, such as immigration reform and Social Security reform, are dead in the water. The real shocker would be if he had actually delivered for New Orleans.
The blame for New Orleans’ misery is not Bush’s alone, said Andrew O’Hagan in Britain’s Daily Telegraph. American aid agencies are incompetent, if not actively corrupt. Having witnessed international relief operations in Sudan, Mozambique, and India, I can honestly say that the much maligned U.N. is far more effective—and far more caring—than American-run relief efforts. It took UNICEF less than a year to build new hospitals in Mozambique after a severe flood. Yet Gulf residents are still “wallowing in mud,” and the U.S. government simply shrugs. When I went out on patrol with National Guard troops after Katrina, “I was amazed by their inefficiency and unwillingness when it came to helping people.”
That indifferent attitude comes from the very top, said Britain’s The Mirror. The president is guilty of “criminal neglect” of the hurricane victims. “And if cowboy Bush is so callous toward U.S. citizens in his Mississippi backyard, God help Iraqis and all the others he vows to bomb into freedom.”

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