The End of the End of History

Given the carnage that Katrina has wrought on the Gulf Coast region — and with the situation not at all likely to improve any time soon — one would hope that we might find a way to avoid wrapping the tragedy in partisan sniping.

One would, however, be engaged in wishful thinking.

With a hit tip to Pandagon for alerting us, we refer you to Eve’s Apple, who posts an email she received from Columbia Christians for Life, which claims that the hurricane, when it hit land, “looks like a fetus (unborn human baby) facing to the left (west) in the womb, in the early weeks of gestation … Louisiana has 10 child-murder-by-abortion centers - FIVE are in New Orleans.” In other words, “God’s message: REPENT AMERICA!”

While that’s grotesque, primitive and offensive in the extreme, other politically tinged stories have more of a basis in reality. Many blogs are focusing on a prescient series of stories that appeared in New Orleans’ Times-Picayune in 2004 and 2005 that outlined the Bush administration’s cuts in federal funding for levee repair and flood control in the city. According to an Editor & Publisher report, the Army Corps of Engineers “never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security — coming at the same time as federal tax cuts — was the reason for the strain … At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.”

RC3 picks up on the story, writing that “The time for second-guessing appears to have arrived already, with blame being handed out to President Bush for spending money that had been earmarked for improving the levee system on the war in Iraq, FEMA for shirking its disaster preparedness function, and humanity for destroying the coastal wetlands that offered Louisiana some measure of protection from storms. There’s also going to be plenty of talk about whether the extended deployments of National Guard troops to Iraq affected the disaster response capabilities of the states affected by Katrina.”

Jackpinesavage also runs with the E&P story, writing that “I promised myself that I was going to refrain from even mentioning Bush in conjunction with a natural disaster, but this Editor & Publisher article has changed my mind by bringing to light the pleas for money that would allow the Army Corps of Engineers to finish fixing levees and pumping stations, but the funding was cut and was spent on war.”

We haven’t seen any big response from right-leaning or pro-Bush blogs yet, but we have every faith that this one will get messy.

In other news, foreign policy debates continue to rage. In today’s New York Times, Mr. “End-of-History” himself, Francis Fukuyama, has an op-ed in which he claims that the Bush administration has screwed up its foreign policy pretty badly. He writes that instead of rushing to invade Iraq, “The Bush administration could instead have chosen to create a true alliance of democracies to fight the illiberal currents coming out of the Middle East. It could also have tightened economic sanctions and secured the return of arms inspectors to Iraq without going to war. It could have made a go at a new international regime to battle proliferation. All of these paths would have been in keeping with American foreign policy traditions. But Mr. Bush and his administration freely chose to do otherwise.”

Marc at American Future agrees with part of Fukuyama’s thesis, but feels that “Fukuyama … errs by assuming that the U.S. had power to create a ‘true alliance of democracies’ and that tightening economic sanctions and securing the return of arms inspectors to Iraq would have removed the necessity for war. Any ‘true’ alliance of democracies would have to include France. In light of the French fixation on establishing a multipolar international system to constrain American ‘hyperpower,’ it’s highly doubtful that such an effort would have met with success. As for economic sanctions, it’s now well known that the other members of the UN Security Council (except for Great Britain) were already ignoring existing sanctions and advocating their elimination. Finally, an agreement on a new international regime to battle proliferation would have required considerable time to negotiate, and it’s highly problematic that Saddam would have abided by it.”

Stirling Newberry at Bopnews also takes a long look at the Fukuyama piece, writing:

The disintegration of Iraq is likely to be followed by the elevation of a strong man who promises to pump oil so long as no questions are asked.

While Professor Fukuyama says that all of this is “unfortunate and regrettable”, the time for such mild words — which are official speak for “stupid but survivable” — the reality is much closer to his dismal assessment farther up the page — namely that Iraq is likely to destabilize. In short, he is trying to cast blame from the supposed intellectual underpinnings of Iraq, and on to others.

Paul McLeary

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Paul McLeary is senior editor of Defense Technology International magazine, and is a former CJR staffer.