The men and women of the National Guard shouldnâ€™t be killing in Iraq.
They should be helping in New Orleans and Biloxi.
The catastrophic hurricane was an act of God. But the U.S. war effort in Iraq is a continuing act of the president. And now, that effort is hampering the capacity of the National Guard to save lives at home.
Before the flooding of New Orleans drastically escalated on Tuesday, the White House tried to disarm questions that could be politically explosive. â€œTo those of you who are concerned about whether or not weâ€™re prepared to help, donâ€™t be, we are,â€ President Bush said.
â€œWeâ€™re in place, weâ€™ve got equipment in place, supplies in place, and once the — once weâ€™re able to assess the damage, weâ€™ll be able to move in and help those good folks in the affected areas.â€
Echoing the official assurances, CBS News reported: â€œEven though more than a third of Mississippiâ€™s and Louisianaâ€™s National Guard troops are either in Iraq or supporting the war effort, the National Guard says there are more than enough at home to do the job.â€
But after New Orleans levees collapsed and the scope of the catastrophe became more clear, such reassuring claims lost credibility. The Washington Post reported on Wednesday: â€œWith thousands of their citizen-soldiers away fighting in Iraq, states hit hard by Hurricane Katrina scrambled to muster forces for rescue and security missions yesterday — calling up Army bands and water-purification teams, among other units, and requesting help from distant states and the active-duty military.â€
The back-page Post story added: â€œNational Guard officials in the states acknowledged that the scale of the destruction is stretching the limits of available manpower while placing another extraordinary demand on their troops — most of whom have already served tours in Iraq or Afghanistan or in homeland defense missions since 2001.â€
Speaking for the Mississippi National Guard, Lt. Andy Thaggard said:
â€œMissing the personnel is the big thing in this particular event. We need our people.â€ According to the Washington Post, the Mississippi National Guard â€œhas a brigade of more than 4,000 troops in central Iraqâ€ while â€œLouisiana also has about 3,000 Guard troops in Baghdad.â€
National Guard troops donâ€™t belong in Iraq. They should be rescuing and protecting in Louisiana and Mississippi, not patrolling and killing in a country that was invaded on the basis of presidential deception. They should be fighting the effects of flood waters at home — helping people in the communities they know best — not battling Iraqi people who want them to go away.
Letâ€™s use the Internet today to forward and post this demand so widely that the politicians in Washington can no longer ignore it:
Bring the National Guard home. Immediately.
Norman Solomon is the author of the new book â€œWar Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.â€ For information, go to: