UNITED States President George Bush was in New Orleans yesterday on the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of the city. The hurricane killed 1,600 people in the states of Louisiana and Mississippi and the flood protection barriers in New Orleans were overwhelmed and destroyed.
Bush was due to attend a memorial service and make a speech in the city on reconstruction efforts. However, residents were unenthusiastic. Rev Marshall Truehill explained: ‘People are angry, and they want to send a message to politicians that they want them to do more and do it faster.’
The Bush government earmarked $7bn (£3.50bn) to rebuild homes, schools and other essential infrastructure in New Orleans. This is a pittance compared with the billions spent on the Iraq war.
Two years after the disaster only 40,400 people out of 181,600 who have applied for assistance have received it. Only two-thirds of the 2005 population has returned to the city, fewer than half its public schools have reopened and only 17,600 jobs have been created to replace the 118,000 that were lost.
Bush was in New Orleans during a week in which bad news has followed bad news, both political and on the state of the US economy.
On Monday, the Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, a key figure at the Bush White House since 2001, was forced to hand in his resignation. This came only days after the President’s top political adviser, Karl Rove, quit.
On Tuesday, Bush was forced to defend, yet again, his war strategy in Iraq of boosting troop numbers to 180,000 since the beginning of the year.
House sales are down by 0.2 per cent over the past year and the National Home Price Index for the period between March and June, was 3.2 per cent lower than a year earlier.
The publication of the minutes of the Federal Reserve Board, that met on August 7, showed that Chairman Ben Bernanke did not rule out ‘a further deterioration in financial conditions’ and this could ‘have an adverse effect on growth prospects’.
These two revelations provoked a dramatic drop in share prices on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones falling from 13,332 to 13,041, a cut of 2.1 per cent.
Bush came face-to-face with the legacy of his domestic policies in New Orleans yesterday, the day after he addressed his main foreign policy failure, the debacle of the war and occupation of Iraq.
As the death-toll of American troops rises, killed by a growing Iraqi resistance to occupation, Bush repeated his mantra: ‘Leaders in Washington need to look for ways to help our Iraqi allies succeed, not for excuses to abandon them.’
The US imperialists are losing in Iraq, but they know that to give up attempts to take control of oil supplies in the Middle East would be catastrophic.
Bush portrayed Iran as the main enemy in the region with a call to ‘confront’ the danger of a ‘nuclear holocaust’. This is reminiscent of the black propaganda against Iraq before the invasion in 2003.
Having lost the battles at home, and in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush is gearing up for another military adventure against Iran.
Considering that Bush is a lame-duck President, the Democrats, like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and the independent New York Mayor Michael Bloomburg, are using populist appeals to try to tap into the huge anger of workers and the middle class.
These would-be political leaders of US imperialism cannot provide what millions of US workers are demanding – jobs, decent pay, homes, the right to free education and healthcare, and the withdrawal of all US troops from abroad.
Workers must insist their trade unions sponsor the formation of a Labor Party to represent their interests in a struggle against the Republicans and Democrats who are backed by banks and major corporations.
These struggles of the working class are revolutionary. US capitalism cannot provide what workers are demanding and it must be overthrown and replaced with socialism.
For this workers must build a new political leadership, an American section of the International Committee of the Fourth International.