TCS Daily


Presidential Stealth Sortie

By Austin Bay - June 14, 2006 12:00 AM

Seizing the political opportunity created by the death of terror kingpin Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, President George W. Bush flew to Baghdad on Tuesday.

Bush's trip surprised Iraqis, coalition troops and the international community. It even surprised members of his staff.

Surprise has a tactical and operational virtue -- it enhances the president's security during a visit to a war zone. Surprise also provides drama, in this case media drama building on the drama of Zarqawi's demise.

This is smart, strategic politics from an Administration that has all too often failed to use the power of the presidency's bully pulpit.

When he met with new Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Bush said he wanted to "look him in the eye." But "eye to eye" with an American president brings the eyes and ears of a global media entourage. The Bush administration knows its successful counter-terror strike has created a political and media opportunity to spotlight Iraq's emerging political successes.

Bush entered Baghdad intending to boost Iraq's new democratic government and personally encourage Maliki. In his remarks following his meeting, the word "cabinet" thumped like the commanding beat of a bass drum:

"The decisions you and your cabinet make will be determinate as to whether or not a country succeeds that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself. I'm impressed by the cabinet that you've assembled. You've assembled people from all parts of your country, representing the different religions, and the different histories and traditions. And yet the cabinet here represents the entire Iraqi people, and I appreciate your commitment to representing the people of Iraq."

Last week, Maliki completed his cabinet when he appointed a new minister of defense, minister of interior and minister of national security.

Bush also restated the U.S. grand strategy of countering terror and tyranny with liberty.

"Iraq is a part of the war on terror," Bush said. "Iraq is a central front on that war, and when Iraq succeeds in having a government of and by and for the people of Iraq, you will have dealt a serious blow to those who have a vision of darkness, who don't believe in liberty, who are willing to kill the innocent in order to achieve a political objective."

Bush directly addressed Maliki, but the remarks are also aimed at domestic and international critics of U.S. policy.

In a brief address to U.S. and coalition troops, Bush emphasized this moment's historic challenge and potential import. "These are historic times," the president said. "The mission that you're accomplishing here in Iraq will go down in the history books as an incredibly important moment in the history of freedom and peace -- an incredibly important moment of doing our duty to secure our homeland." He also thanked coalition troops for giving the Iraqi people "a chance to go to the polls ... three different times."

Bush's speeches in Baghdad echoed his May 27 speech to the 2006 graduating class at West Point. That speech indicated Bush intends to build a multi-administration policy framework to fight a long war of ideological and political attrition against Islamo-fascism. To do that, the new Iraqi government must survive and thrive.

Prime Minister Maliki understands that. In fact, Maliki has also seized the media moment. On Thursday, June 8, Maliki published an essay in The Washington Post where he said Iraq would build on the "momentum gained from the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in order to defeat terrorism and sectarianism and to deliver on the Iraqi people's hope of a united, stable and prosperous democracy ..."

Maliki noted the key role of Iraq's judiciary in "relentlessly pursuing the murderers and kidnappers who have blighted Iraqi society." The ongoing trial of Saddam Hussein has tested Iraq's nascent democratic judiciary, but it has also served as a point of pride among Iraqis.

In his essay, Maliki admonished Iraq's neighbors to "not interfere in its internal matters" -- a not-so-veiled warning to Iran and Syria. Maliki's comment isn't nationalist polemics. Many Iraqis believe Syria and Iran have prolonged the insurgent violence by providing havens, financing, armed support and intelligence.

Bush's critics will dismiss Baghdad as a stunt. They're wrong -- it's a long overdue stroke of political and media brilliance.

Austin Bay is a syndicated columnist and TCS contributing writer.

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13 Comments

Preaching to the Choir
Rice: No guarantees on Iraq, Afghanistan
AP, June 14, 2006

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that the U.S. military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan do not assure those countries will become successful democracies. But she said the chance for success is worth the price.

Speaking to a largely conservative audience of more than 12,000 SOUTHERN BAPTISTS, Rice said she knows optimism can be hard to sustain in the face of daily sectarian carnage and beheadings in Iraq ... She got REPEATED STANDING OVATIONS for her call for continued U.S. engagement across the globe...

An AP-Ipsos poll taken last week, before the killing of al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq, showed 59% of adults say the United States made a mistake in going to war ... Only 68% of Republicans, 57% of white evangelicals and 51% of self-described conservatives -- key groups in Bush's base of support -- approved of his handling of Iraq.

http://www.duluthsuperior.com/mld/duluthsuperior/news/politics/14816671.htm

No Subject
"... when Iraq succeeds in having a government of and by and for the people of Iraq ..."

But wait. Sovereignty was handed over to Iraq on June 28, 2004. And there have been several elections since then. But Iraq hasn't succeeded in having a government of and by the people? Hmm. I guess that's "brilliant", too.

And the Iraq government only exists behind the fortified walls of the "Green Zone" while violence rules the streets in the rst of Baghdad. Brilliant!

yep, mission accomplished, yet again!
The photo-ops have indeed been the most brilliant thing about Bush Iraq operations. The fact that they did not trust the President of Iraq to keep a secret for more than 5 minutes and the fact that Bush was unable to stay for more than a few hours and that driving from the airport to that green zone island of safety speeks louder than the speeches.

Mark: the Mission Accomplished banner was put on the boat by White House operatives for the photo op, not for the sailors. Read the press reports, . . . or not.

How his trip was reported in Australia
The News reported started like this....It's a sign of how little progress has been made that the Presidents gunship flew low into Bagdad under tight secrecy. That was on a Conservative new channel.

HEADLINE: Brain-Dead Guttersnipes Not Impressed By Bush
Ok, so, it's a pretty fair bet that Bush's primary goal is not, and never will be, to impress leftists, or to change the minds and soothe the hurt feelings of deluded socialist moonbats.

Don't you dingalings understand that as long as your first and only instinct is to complain and criticize, *no matter what*, that it makes it impossible to take you seriously?

There is a word, politically speaking, for people who behave as you fringe kooks do: loser. How it must sting! You are, and will remain, political losers, as long as you refuse to understand and engage reality: the majority of people in this country do not, and never will, think as you do. Your thoughts are broken; your psyches are damaged. Get some help. In time, and with some therapy, you may still be able to re-enter society.

As far as Bush's surprise appearance in Iraq: it gets back to my original point. He did not do that either to impress you liberal dunderheads, or to change the minds of his cynical and hypocritical opponents - he did it for the people or Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. He did it to show them that the good guys are winning, despite the constant drum beat for failure on this side of the world.

Just like always, he simply doesn't care what you think, because you have made yourselves in every way irrelevant.

The only people who care about you (and let's clarfy here - they don't 'care' what you think, as such, as much as they are simply afraid of you) are the liberal socialist politicians. And where has that gotten them? One political loss after another.

Even a rat in a maze eventually 'gets it' that the red button gives a shock and the blue button gives a reward. Why can't you people be at least as smart as rats?

No Subject and no clue either.
Our very own constitution took from Feb 1787 until March 1789 to be ratified, with feirce infighting as well. Over 2 full years. And 11 all together, from 1776.

Iraq has a sitting government after 6 months, and are _almost_ fully ready to go after a year.

And all you want is for America and Iraq to fail.

LilberalTalkingPointMan
You don't understand diplomacy nor the efforts that are taken to ensure the victory. Iraq is becoming a state of it's own and it just kills you to see it happen.

Your confusion between security and trust mimicks Air America to perfection. Maliki didn't seem upset by this since he has pretty tight security as well. By your standards, Bush doesn't trust most of his own staff as well does he?

You say that security issues speak louder than the speeches. Please, by all means, inform me as to what it says. I would hope that our President would take every precaution imaginable when travelling into a country that is in transition after a war. Did you expect him to ride a bike from the airport to the Green Zone?

As for the Mission Accomplished sign: the major aspect of the initial liberation of Iraq WAS accomplished at that point and time. Saddam's forces no longer existed as a threat. Keep beating that dead horse all you wish but it just makes you look like a liberal tool.

Bush's critics will dismiss Baghdad as a stunt. They're wrong -- it's a long overdue stroke of polit
I amost dropped dead when I read a very favorable editorial about President Bush's trip to Baghdad, in, of all places, The Washington Post, 6/14/06. Now let's see if the New York times gets it right. Hurray (hopefully not for the last) for The Washington Post.

LG finds it amazing that the SS tries to protect the president.
Regarding the banner. You say one thing, other people say another. So what.

1) It's a ship, not a boat. Try not to be overtly offensive.

2) It's irrelevant. The ship's mission was accomplished.
The over all operation wasn't, but that's a different story.
Apparently one that you aren't sophisticated enough to understand.

LilberalTalkingPointMan
Tlaloc - Thanks for telling it how it is so well! Isn't it disappointing that some people just can't give credit where credit is due. Some just want to keep beating that dead horse as you put it - isn't that counter-productive!

It was brilliant in the way it was handled and reasonable people will understand it for what it was - a wonderful helping hand of support to a fledging democracy from the most powerful president on the face of the planet.

Thank you Mr. Bush
It is about time you started using the developments in Iraq as a jumping off point to explain the reason the U.S. is there. When the elections in Iraq came and went, there was little note made of it. Where was the presidential addresses, the point made of the many successes?

Yes, the MSM was reluctant to give them the same coverage they gave the day's death toll. Still, more could have been done to emphasis these points.

In my opinion, it is about time the President made a move like this.

Iraq did in 3 years, what took Germany 4 years to do.
Iraq did in 3 years, what took Germany 4 years to do, but to the Bush haters, everything in Iraq is a failure.

Bush's Visit to Iraq
I think it is great when the leader of a country is prepared to go where he is sending men and women to fight and die. Agreeing or disagreeing with Bush is irrelevant, he needs to be commended for these kinds of actions. One may get cynical and call it a photo op or positive optics but anyway you cut it Iraq is a very dangerous place and he deserves congratulations for supporting his fighting troops.

SJH

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