President Bush’s Last Visit To Iraq
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – President George W. Bush made an unannounced farewell visit to Baghdad on Sunday, just weeks before he leaves office and bequeaths the unpopular Iraq war to President-elect Barack Obama.
Bush flew secretly to the Iraqi capital to hold talks with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and address a rally of U.S. troops.
“Bush has come to meet Iraqi leaders, thank the troops and celebrate the new security agreement,” a White House official said.
Bush arrived first by helicopter at the presidential palace for talks with President Jalal Talabani and his two vice-presidents. He planned to meet later with Maliki.
Bush’s trip — his fourth to Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion — follows approval of a security pact between Washington and Baghdad last month that paves the way for U.S. forces to withdraw by the end of 2011.
The brief visit was meant to showcase recent security gains in Iraq but was also a stark reminder of how heavily the war will weigh on the Republican president’s foreign policy legacy.
Though Iraq has slipped down the list of Americans’ concerns as the recession-hit U.S. economy has taken center stage, polls show most people think the war was a mistake.
Bush’s visit, just 11 days before Christmas, was a final chance for him to bid farewell to troops on the ground there.
He was greeted on the heavily guarded tarmac in Baghdad by the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
The decision to land in broad daylight reflected confidence that Baghdad was more secure this time than in Bush’s last visit to the capital in 2006 when sectarian violence was raging.
And we all know why it’s more secure there now than in 2006: the surge (no, not the “goodwill of the Iranians,” Nancy Pelosi). Unfortunately, President-elect Obama admitted during his presidential campaign that, if he knew then what he knew now about how successful the surge would be that he would still have opposed it (even though he scrubbed his website back in the summer of some of the comments he had made earlier about the surge). Now that he’s poised to become sworn in as our nation’s President and CIC of the military, now that he’s had a chance to look at Iraq and our overall national security picture through the eyes of President Bush rather than as a candidate for the highest office in our nation, will he still insist on a drawdown of troops there, regardless of conditions on the ground, in order to fulfill his campaign promises to the anti-war left? He’s made his base unhappy these last few weeks with some of the selections he’s announced for his staff and cabinet, but will Iraq end up being the one area where he seeks to appease them … simply because he, too, believes “war is not the answer” and that the Iraq war was a “mistake” that has “wasted” the deaths of American troops?
Don Surber sums up::
But Bush stood tall. Bush ignored Obama and all the others who declared the war lost. Obama demanded that all our troops be out by this last March.
Had we done that — had we followed Mr. Know-It-All’s poor and ignorant judgment, Iraq would make Somalia look orderly.
History won’t be kind to Bush. The people who write it are Obaman,: For the war when we are winning, against it “all along” when it appears we are losing; taking credit for it now that it is won.
Internationally, his biggest critics — Chirac, Schroeder and the Belgian government — were all gone in the next election.
Nicolas Sarkozy campaigned as L’Americain and easily defeated a pretty socialist.
Bush is in Iraq for the 4th time. A military victory has been achieved. A political one has as well as the Iraqi Parliament has done something our Congress has not: Agreed on an energy policy.
We removed one of the bloodiest dictators on Earth, a man who invaded Iran and Kuwait and who paid terrorists to terrorize Israel. We did what Bill Clinton wanted to do in Bosnia: Liberate a people.
Joe Biden wanted to divvy up Iraq into 3 parts. And Sarah Palin is the one who is supposed to be ignorant on world affairs? What kind of moron places Joe Biden a heartbeat from the presidency?
Iraqis may be Kurds or Shiites or Sunnis, but they have decided they also are Iraqis.
And now they are free.
Thanks to George Walker Bush.
Jules Crittenden calls the President’s trip a “victory lap.” I think, especially considering the ups and downs encountered the last several years since we went to war in Iraq and the endless sleepless nights that I’d bet Bush has endured over it, that is a perfect description of Bush’s visit.
Please, President-elect Obama, please don’t screw this up. Not just because of President Bush, but more importantly so that America will have a strong and loyal ally in the Middle East, always a hotbed of volatile, oftentimes violent activity and uncertainty that both directly and indirectly affects America and her national security interests. So our men and women who have fought so bravely can come home with honor. So that the over 4,000 of them who have died in defense of democracy and security will not have died in vain.
View photos from Bush’s visit to Iraq here.
Cross-posted from the Sister Toldjah blog.