In keeping with the old George McGovern slogan “come home America,” some folks want to make something of the comment by Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, that the Guard “arguably” lost a day or so of relief time due to its large-scale deployment in Iraq. Blum made it clear that the deployment of Guard troops in Iraq is not interfering with the relief effort now, but noted that when the storm first struck, he had to dispatch some personnel from Guard division headquarters from Kansas and Minnesota.
But what argument about the merits of our action in Iraq, or the administration’s culpability (if any) for its response to Katrina, follows from Blum’s statement? If our presence in Iraq is misguided, then the Bush administration is at fault for putting military personnel (be they Guardsmen or regular troops) in harm’s way there regardless of weather conditions in the Gulf of Mexico. If our presence in Iraq is justified at current levels (or if we need more troops there), then it would be absurd not to deploy substantial elements of the National Guard there on the theory that, if a once-in-a-century natural disaster hits at home, the Guard response might be delayed by one day.
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