Bush made a surprise visit to Baghdad yesterday to meet
with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and to get a face-to-face
assessment of how the U.S. can help the new Iraqi government
improve security and stand on its own. It was a bold move
under tight security and it's a big story. It shows the
President's determination to build momentum after the stunning
success of U.S. forces hunting down and killing Zarqawi.
The future of Iraq and the future of U.S. foreign policy
in the Middle East is on the line.
Bush spent about five hours on the ground. Maliki learned of his visit about five minutes before he met with Bush. Most U.S. Cabinet members didn't even know.
to the press pool report: "Presidential counselor
Dan Bartlett told reporters aboard Air Force One that
the trip was planned over the past month
by a small group of six White House he described as a 'very, very close circle
of people.' He said that Mr. Bush had wanted to come to Iraq as soon as the
final positions in Mr. Maliki's government -- the ministers of Defense and
Interior - were chosen....Apart from Vice President Cheney, the only cabinet
members notified in advance that the president would be visiting Baghdad were
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld....Mr.
Bartlett said that the president left Camp David Monday evening after excusing
himself from an after-dinner discussion....at approximately 7:45 PM, Mr. Bush
told the officials that he was 'losing altitude' and wanted to go to bed to
read a bit before falling asleep. The meeting adjourned around 8 PM, but the
president had by that point already quietly left for Andrews. Mr. Bartlett
declined to specify how the president snuck away without the other officials
noticing his absence, but said that the helicopter Mr. Bush flew to Andrews
was not the green and white helicopter normally used as Marine One."
Also from the press pool report: "Mr. Bartlett said the main point of the trip was to enable Mr. Bush to meet Mr. Maliki face-to-face and get a clearer sense of the Iraqi premier's priorities and the specific ways the U.S. government could help him succeed....'When you're dealing with issues of enormous consequence, the security of our country, the security of the Middle East and the world, and you're making such monumental decisions, its critically important that you're able to meet with the new leader, confer with the leader, who you're going to be making those decisions with,' he said. 'We are committed to the success of the new government and the Maliki plan that he is outlining.'" CRO
2006 Joel C. Rosenberg