President George W. Bush greets Marines during his visit to Al-Asad Air Base in Anbar Province, Iraq, September 3, 2007. Bush made a surprise visit to Iraq on Monday, just a week before his top officials in Baghdad present pivotal testimony to Congress that could influence future policy on the war. (Jason Reed/Reuters)
AL ASAD AIR BASE, Anbar Province, Iraq, Sept. 3 -- President Bush made asurprise visit to this isolated and well fortified air field in Anbar province Monday to meet with top U.S. and Iraqi officials and to showcase what he calls one of the successes of his decision to surge 30,000 additional troops into Iraq.
More importantly, how does this affect politics inside Iraq? By meeting with Maliki, Bush can assuage some hurt feelings over calls for Maliki's ouster by Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin. However, his meetings with tribal leaders will demonstrate that the US will be willing to work with a broad range of political leadership, a move that should send a message to Maliki. It will be a recognition of tribal leaders who have chosen political engagement rather than terrorist support, which will strengthen the momentum towards political reform.
“The president stopped at a small building where a Marine Cobra pilot briefed him about the positives and negatives of current troop rotations. He told the president that troops were not getting enough time at home and did not have enough time for training. ‘Morale?’ asked Bush. ‘How’s morale?’ ‘Very high sir,’ the pilot, Capt. Lee Hemming, said.”
We are here, grounded in the reality that every year is likely to be just as bloody and fruitless as the last. And the President is over there, smiling for the cameras, touting a "remarkable turnaround" in the Anbar province (just don't look at the rest of Iraq, ok?), and otherwise using everything within his power--PR stunts included--to solidify Republican support for his war and his funding requests.
Also, the tank looks at Harry Reid on Iraq, then and now. And let's not forget Reid's rallying cry: