Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Sunday, September 2, 2007

Bush visits Iraq; focuses visit in Anbar

President Bush decided to make a surprise visit to Iraq, Anbar specifically, to highlight the success of the surge. This wasn't expected, and the cast of characters joining him included some pretty big guns as the WaPo points out:

President Bush, in a surprise visit to this isolated and well fortified air field in Anbar province Monday, said continued gains in security could allow for a reduction in U.S. troops in Iraq and called on the Iraqi government to follow that success with progress toward rebuilding and political reconciliation.

Bush received an update on Iraq from Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, then met with Iraqi government officials and later Sunni tribal leaders here. He said he was "pleased" with what he heard from U.S. officials.

"Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker tell me if the kind of success we are now seeing continues it will be possible to maintain the same level of security with fewer American forces," Bush said.

Bush affirmed that the United States will not abandon Iraq but warned that progress in reducing violence here must be solidified with political action by the central government.

"We had a good frank discussion," Bush said flanked by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates following his meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other top Iraqi leaders.

Bush said he urged Iraqi leaders to take concrete actions, such as sharing oil revenues, in order to support "bottom-up reconciliation" in areas such as Anbar province in western Iraq, where violence has plummeted in recent months as Sunni tribes have cooperated with U.S. forces to drive out insurgent groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq.

"There has been security success, now it's important for government to follow up," Bush said.

At the same time, Bush acknowledged that "the challenges are great" and the pace of progress overall remains "frustrating" both for Iraqis and Americans.
Bush met with several Sunni tribal sheiks from Anbar and said he would tell them that the United States would continue supporting them. "I will reassure them that America does not abandon our friends, and America will not abandon the Iraqi people," he said.


Bush said that he, Gates, and Rice "came here today to see with our own eyes the multiple changes that are taking place in Anbar Province," noting that last summer he was told Anbar was lost, but that Iraqi citizens "refused to give in" and as a result the province is far calmer today.

Besides Rice and Gates, Bush was joined for the meetings by other top military officials, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, and U.S. Middle East commander Adm. William J. Fallon.

"This will be the last big gathering of the president's advisers and Iraqi leaders before the president makes his decisions on the way forward," said Geoff Morrell, Pentagon spokesman. "He's assembled his war council, and they are all convening with Iraqi leaders to discuss the way forward."

His meeting with the sheiks was two-fold. It sent them a message that we were supporting them now that they have joined the cause to quell Iraq of al Qaeda, but it also was shaming in a way. See, Maliki has kept the reconstruction aid mainly for Shi'ites. The visit to the sheiks, hopefully, loosens up Maliki, and forces his hand to help everyone in Iraq, and not just Shias.

A lot of people are questioning why he chose anbar. The answer is easier than most people believe. He's highlighting the success of a province that he was told last year was completely lost. He's also sticking it to the MSM who keep claiming that all of those that have reported success in Iraq -- Michael Yon, Bill Roggio, Bill Kristol, John Burns, Michael O'Hanlon, and Kenneth Pollack -- are only in and around the Green Zone, and not out in the thick of things. (The media could do itself a big favor if it would READ a little more, and ASSUME less.)

The president has a butt-load of confidence int he success thus far, which is why he brought along Secretaries Rice and Gates, NSA Hadley, General Pace, and Admiral Fallon. Terrorists would look at that as a "target-rich" environment. A few on the Left, noted by Bill Crawford in this post are making a big deal of him "slipping into Iraq." Well, DUH! The president's not stupid. The trip had to be kept on the QT for security purposes. But they've gone into full derangement mode. Head on over to Mr. Crawford's post and take a look at his updates. It's not just the Kos-Kiddies throwing a hissy fit. Even the infamous FireDogLake got in on this one.

Just a word of warning for conservatives awaiting the Petreus report -- The Left is already saying that they can't believe anything that comes from him or Ambassador Crocker. To them, these two men are "Bush stooges," and are only going to give Congress a Bush talking point report, and they won't highlight any of the problems. To me, this is asinine. The president has acknowledged he isn't pleased with the national government's lack of progress. People have been thoroughly impressed with the military side of things, and the news of combat deaths declining has the Left gnashing it's teeth.

By no means are we saying that the fight is over, and we have won. It's far from over, and the politicians in Iraq still have quite a bit of work to do. But things have seemingly turned the corner, and the situation in Iraq doesn't look as dire as it did last year. If that's not success, then I've no clue what success is to the critics.

Publius II

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It made my day to see President Bush, for the 3rd time, avoid the press going to Iraq. The President talks the walk and he walks the talk. He know's what is at stake in this war and Iraq is but a battle. Rawriter

September 3, 2007 at 9:32 PM  

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