Friday, May 28, 2010

Katrina, the Big OOSE, and Iraq

I have taken flack in various blog comment sections for defending the Bush administration on the Katrina disaster so I was happy to see a blogger on The Corner take my side.

I always claimed that that the administration's response was adequate on Katrina, just like his effort in the Iraq war was adequate, and that the criticisms are all based on outrageously inflated expectations of what is possible. Yuval Levin says it better than I do:
Let’s say a major hurricane hits a large and densely populated American city with five hundred thousand inhabitants. Much of the city is below sea level, and the flood-waters that follow in the wake of the storm quickly overrun it, filling nearly every street with water, in many places fifteen feet in depth. The magnitude of human suffering and destruction of property is mind-boggling. But within six days, everyone is out of the city and in total approximately one thousand people—one in five hundred residents—lost their lives in the calamity. Hour by hour, the government response was messy and ugly—it could hardly be otherwise given the magnitude of the disaster. But looked at with a little perspective, is that really a story of a failure of government response, or is it an example of how to contend with an immense natural disaster in a densely populated urban center? Is it a model of incompetence, or the most effective mass evacuation in human history?
Read Yuval's post for the parallel comments on the big Obama Oil Spill Event which I like to call the Big OOSE (pronounced like "ooze" + "y"). It is discouraging to me that disasters, like almost everything else, have become part of politics.

I would also add similar comments about the war in Iraq. Readers of my blog (all four of you, thanks guys) know that I was never a fan of George Bush, but fair is fair. The war in Iraq was one of the most successful invasions and counter-insurgency operations in history based on the criteria of eliminating the enemy and of preventing civilian casualties, given the situation that he faced. You have to take into account the support for the enemy by foreign powers, the tactics of the enemy, and the political situation.

I don't think thaat any Republican could be expected to have done better. A Democrat could have done better because Republicans would not have played politics with the war and the country would have been united around a Democrat president. Without the encouragement of the strident anti-war sentiment in the US and the hope of a new administration that would surrender, the Muslims might have been discouraged earlier. With a Democrat president, the American news media would not have been filled with stories designed to enrage Muslims and encourage them to enter the war against the United States. You have to judge Bush's success against an enemy that included among its allies the opposition party and the news and entertainment media of his own country. Given all of that, George Bush did an astounding job in Iraq.