As news of Hurricane Katrina’s ravages in New Orleans and the Gulf region shocked the nation, California Assemblywoman Loni Hancock (D-El Cerrito) Sept. 2 introduced a Joint Resolution calling for the return home of the California National Guard. By the time the legislative session ended Sept. 9, the number of co-authors, initially four, had grown to more than 20.

Emphasizing the Legislature’s strong support for the troops in Iraq, the resolution points out the false premises on which the war and occupation were founded and the desire of a majority of Americans to see U.S. troops withdrawn. It calls on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to immediately ensure the withdrawal of the state’s National Guard troops from Iraq.

Besides opposition to the war, the resolution was motivated by concern that in a catastrophe the state would need the services of the Guard, said Hancock’s district director, Terri Waller. “Having the country experience the Guard’s absence in a time of need was very unfortunate, and may have added to the loss of life and property, chaos and confusion,” Waller said. She pointed out that resources sent to Iraq include not only troops, including the Guard, but billions of dollars urgently needed for everything from schools to hospitals to levees. “In California there’s increasing discussion of the state of our own levees,” which are of great importance in agricultural areas, she said.

Even Schwarzenegger has called Katrina a “wake-up call to be better prepared,” said Natalie Wormely of Code Pink, which supported Hancock’s resolution. Wormely said Code Pink sees bringing the Guard home as part of disaster preparedness as well as important for ending the war.

The resolution notes the costs to Guard members in “lost life, combat injuries, psychic trauma, disruption of family life, financial hardship for individuals, families and businesses, interruption of careers and damage to the fabric of civic life in many California communities.” Such losses are intolerable when there is no true threat, the resolution states.

It also says that stop-loss orders lengthening terms of service “violate the mutual understanding between Californians and the state and nation they agreed to serve.”

Since the resolution was

introduced so near the end of the 2005 legislative session, it will need to be reintroduced in the next session in order to be acted upon.