Very smart move here on Bush’s part.
President Bush made a surprise visit to Iraq Monday, shortly before a White House deadline to report to Congress on the U.S. troop increase there.
Air Force One touched down under a blazing sun at Al Asad Air Base, for a six-hour presidential visit to tout a "remarkable turnaround" in the mostly Sunni Anbar province west of Baghdad.
After exiting the aircraft, a line of military officials, including top war commander Gen. David Petraeus, welcomed Bush with smiles, salutes and handshakes in the 115- degree heat.
Bush plans to eat dinner with U.S. troops and to meet with top military commanders, the U.S. ambassador, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and provincial tribal leaders. Video Watch commanders welcome Bush
Bush has hailed Anbar as a success, citing the U.S. military’s alliance with tribal leaders in fighting al Qaeda in Iraq.
He brought along Robert Gates, Condoleezza Rice, General Peter Pace, national security adviser Stephen Hadley, and the "war czar" General Douglas Lute. He stayed in Anbar instead of Baghdad which speaks volumes about the level of change that has been going on in Iraq plus he met with Maliki, of course, but also tribal leaders which is huge in my opinion. This means that Bush and his Administration recognize that Iraq has a different sort of Democracy. The tribal leader is a very important part of that landscape and what Bush is saying here is that we will work with them.
Another reason Bush went to Iraq, according to National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, is that the President felt he had to make this visit "in order to put himself in a position to make some important decisions." A sign of a true leader.
Meanwhile American deaths are down:
American combat deaths in Iraq have dropped by half in the three months since the buildup of 28,000 additional U.S. troops reached full strength, surprising analysts and dividing them as to why.
U.S. officials had predicted that the increase would lead to higher American casualties as the troops "took the fight to the enemy." But that hasn’t happened, even though U.S. forces have launched major offensives involving thousands of troops north and south of Baghdad.
American combat casualties have dropped to their lowest levels this year, even as violence involving Iraqis remains high.
Military officials and observers are wondering whether the lower U.S. casualties are a sign of success or an indication that insurgents and militiamen simply chose a different battlefield when the Americans mounted their offensive in Iraq’s capital.
"Nobody here is doing cartwheels yet," said one senior military official at the Pentagon, who requested anonymity in order to speak freely.
Oh, I’m sure many of them moved to places where the heat wasn’t so bad but I think one of the biggest factors is that we have experienced combat troops in Iraq and the civilian population trusts us more. We’ve been there for over 4 years and this has created a encyclopedia of combat tactics against this enemy we call terror. It’s priceless actually. Just when we need it most, we have it. Michae Yon described it best in his piece a few weeks back: (h/t QandO blog)
When I wrote the dispatch “Be Not Afraid,” I thought at least dozens of soldiers might be killed when we attacked on 19 June, and that hundreds might be wounded. After years of experience, the terrorists had prepared Baqubah to an extent greater than either Fallujah or Ramadi had been. During one of the briefings Saturday, General Petraeus mentioned that Baqubah was probably the most rigged city of the entire war. Another officer at the briefing said there is so much explosives residue in Baqubah that the bomb dogs get confused.
Since the beginning of Arrowhead Ripper—with the loss of one 3-2 SBCT soldier killed in action—troops found more than 130 bombs planted in ambush, about two dozen buildings rigged to explode, and more than half a dozen car bombs. (That’s only the beginning.) Yet street by street, house by house, step by step, the infantry soldiers cleared most of Baqubah, working under intensely stressful conditions. They cleared block by block, no place to sleep but the ground, no showers to wash away the sweaty grit of war. This combat-experienced brigade outsmarted the enemy. I’d like to say more, but the enemy will get no help from these pages.
Add this to the fact that our enemy has no real friends left in Iraq, which means intelligence from the residents.
JammieWearingFool notes that the AP was quick to react to a rise in combat deaths early last month, not so quick to note the opposite tho:
BAGHDAD – Four more U.S. troops and a British soldier have died in attacks, military officials said Tuesday, in a possible sign that extremists are regrouping after a drop in American deaths last month.
The spate of recent U.S. deaths — 19 so far in August — seems certain to intensify the debate over U.S. progress to calm Iraq and gain ground against militants ahead of a key September report to Congress.
U.S. deaths had dropped slightly in July to 79 — the lowest monthly tally since 70 were killed in November. Before July, more than 100 American forces died each month in the April-to-June period as the U.S. military struck out at insurgents on dangerous streets and cities across Iraq.
Shocker I know. Meanwhile Jules Crittendon writes about the McClatchy piece above which happened to omit one reason for the lack of troop deaths, a winning strategy:
It couldn’t possibly be because the Bush strategy is more successful than anyone dared suggest it might be.
In fact, there have been some much-heralded spikes in combat deaths as Americans engaged. But the turning of the tribes, a revolt that continues to spread, has dramatically cut violence in ways that were not anticipated when the surge was first announced. Combat operations north and south of the city have been highly successful. Al Qaeda operations in key areas have been terminated, and leadership has fled, attempting to spark bloodshed elsewhere.
It’s a war. Battlefields shift. But sometimes, the taking of territory, defeating the enemy, reducing one’s own losses is an indication of pending, is actually a indicator of pending victory, rather than defeat. Hard concept to grasp, I know.
And then there is this morale thing that is constantly being harped on by the left. If this news story is any indication, morale is doing just fine.
You’d expect complaints. I didn’t hear one. And talking to three Jersey boys, I was surprised to hear just how positive they felt about the mission.
"I’d do it again in a heartbeat," Lance Cpl. Justin Blitzstein of West Milford told me. Self-assured and ready for anything, he added, "Anybody who doesn’t think we should be here should see the difference we’ve made in the way these people live. And everybody here’s a volunteer. We want to be here."
Lance Cpl. Jason Hetherington of Cape May County leapt in, "The progress from us being here [in the police precinct] less than six months is unbelievable. People who don’t think we’re making a difference should just see what we do."
A thoughtful man, Hetherington paused to choose his next words. "We were surprised that it wasn’t a combat situation in Fallujah anymore. It’s rewarding to see the kids out in the streets and the shops open."
Blitzstein nodded. "We were amazed at how easy it was when we moved in. We were the first Marines thrown into the meat grinder, right in the middle of Fallujah, but it worked out. It was good planning on somebody’s part."
Lance Corporals not complaining that the war is lost? When the lowest rung of the enlisted corps is doing fine then you know morale is good. There will always be bitching, it was common when I was in and when my father was in and when my great-grandfather was in. The lefts pipe-dreams of a demoralized American military ala Vietnam is just that, a pipe-dream. Make no mistake, they are trying their best to get them to hate America as much as they hate it but they are failing miserable. This is a volunteer military, young men and women who enlist now understand where they could end up and they WANT to be there. They see that our military has performed magnificently in Iraq and Afghanistan and while there will be many hardships they still go. True Americans through and through.
Our military morale is high, our military is kicking ass in Iraq both in the combat realm along with the political realm, Iraq is slowly turning the corner on Democracy. While its not picture perfect with civilian deaths still high, neither was Germany for 30 years after WWII, so all in all I think Iraq is turning the corner.
And now Bush goes to Iraq to show it. Good for him.
My favorite picture of the day:
President Bush receives a challenge coin as he meets with a Marine combat patrol unit at Al-Asad Airbase in Anbar province, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 3, 2007.
Don’t know what a challenge coin is? Google it.
A great comment at LGF which highlights something different then other Presidents:
Think about it:
How many times did Roosevelt visit the front lines in WWII?
How many times did Wilson visit troops in the trenches in the Ardennes?
How many times did Johnson go to Vietnam?
Clinton in Bosnia? Nope.
Do you see a common factor between those 4 Presidents? Although I seem to remember Johnson and Nixon both visiting Vietnam but I could be wrong.
Semper Fi Mr. President.
The left is in a uproar of course over the Bush visit but my favorite headline has to be this idiotic KOS piece:
How dare Dubya smile while in Iraq
These people are insane. The only thing that would make them happy is Bush weeping and yelling his apologies for going into Iraq only for Halliburton while he wails that the war is lost and that he is pulling all troops out of the Middle East since we all know America can’t fight. We’re a land of losers you see. Then to top it all off he would announce that from this day forward he will only rule by opinion polls.
Then we would see these idiots smile.
- Captains Quarters
- California Yankee
- Hot Air
- Sister Toldjah
- Gateway Pundit
- Don Surber
- Stop The ACLU
- Rhymes With Right
- Blogs For Bush
- Ace of Spades HQ
- Atlas Shrugs
- Non-Party Politics
- Wake Up America
- Say Anything
- Michelle Malkin
- The Strata-Sphere
Excellent post on this, Curt. Absolutely excellent. This is why I so enjoy coming here to see your great roundups and positive attitude. Keep it up, sir.
And it was great to see the President go to Iraq. This is an example of why I grew to admire the man after 9/11/2001. I have some major disagreements with him on both domestic and foreign policies, but these are the things that earned him my admiration and respect as a leader. It is times like this that I am proud he is our President.
support for the decision to invade-on the rise
support for the war-on the rise
military successes in Iraq-undeniable (Couric seems to have had a reverse Cronkite moment)
Approval rating for Dem Congress as low or lower than any other in recorded history
Approval rating for Dems’ Congress’ handling of Iraq (ie, their vaunted New Direction) below the margin of error at 3%
GAO report saying no political objectives met-already outdated as political objectives are, and as Iraqi Parliament has passed more laws than Dems Congress.
When the positive report on the surge comes out, Dems cannot pander to the left anymore. It gets them less and less rather than more and more. Put another way, fewer people are believing the Dem-spin and seeing it for the defeatist propaganda that it is. Besides, Dem Presidential hopefuls don’t DARE demand withdrawal for if it were to happen, they all know (save Kucinich) that if elected they’d have to turn around, flip off their base, and invade Iraq a 3rd time in infinitely worse conditions.
I suspect that if W can get a few more political accomplishments out of the Iraqi Parliament, we’ll see Dems go back through their archives and start proclaiming that they brought success by demanding more troops go to Iraq. That was-after all-their demand this time last year. They’ve done it/tried it before. If light can be seen at the end of the tunnel, look for Democrats to declare that it was they who led us there.
I say let em say what they want, on Feb 6, 2008, the contradictory statements will flow on YouTube like a waterfall.
btw, GREAT line:
“Lance Corporals not complaining that the war is lost? When the lowest rung of the enlisted corps is doing fine then you know morale is good. There will always be bitching, it was common when I was in and when my father was in and when my great-grandfather was in. “
President Johnson visited Viet Nam in late ’67 or early ’68.
I guess the MSM has never heard the phrase “A bitching Marine is a happy Marine”…
“These people are insane.”
I love your site and I agree with everything you said except one factual thing. President Johnson did visit Vietnam on October 26, 1966. He visited the troops at Cam Rahn Bay on his way to, ironically, Australia!
I voted for the President twice.
I disagree with him on immigration and domestic spending (and a few other choice things)….
But – It’s quite obvious that he is honored every time he’s in the presence of our fighting forces. He’s quick to to get emotional around them, because he’s simply in awe of them.
I also believe that the troops seem to like him as well.
IMO, that’s HUGELY important for a CinC.
And, for our nation.
from a portion of this mornings SF Chronicle Editorial:
“Stubbornness and miscalculation have been two of the defining traits of the Bush administration’s war policy ever since the spring 2003 invasion. Congress has every reason to be highly skeptical of this administration’s latest attempt to extend a war that has claimed more than 3,700 U.S. lives and continues to consume more than $100 billion a year.
Senate and House members must not be intimidated by Bush’s rhetoric. Far worse than fearing failure is being too timid to recognize and confront it. ”
This last line (bolded) just about sums up the mentality and resolve of our anti-war/defeatist left. For the Chronicle editors to recognize failure, they need only to look in the mirror.
Thanks for another great post Curt.
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“This last line (bolded) just about sums up the mentality and resolve of our anti-war/defeatist left.
IMO, the American left, enboldened by the fact that they somehow think the terrorists thru out the world support them,
think they have America on the ropes and can deliver the final blow to defeat the US in Afghanistan/Iraq. Somehow the American left thinks that the terrorists see some kind of difference between the American left and the American right. IMO, the American left is sadly mistaken, the Islamic terrorists simply hate and do not care who they kill, witness the daily car bombings/IED attacks. See any evidence in those events that demonstate any care at all as too who is killed?
IMO, the only thing that stands between the American left and certain death at the hands of the Islamic terrorists is the US military, the group the American left wants to destroy more than anything else in the world. The American left has a suicidal death wish.
Just study the history of the North Vietnamese/Viet Cong terrorists. The Tet Offensive, that Walter Cronkite was so convinced was a great victory, wiped out the Viet Cong, who had occupied South Vietnam as traitors to their own country. The North Vietnamese simply did not trust the Viet Cong. The American left should take that example of what their fate will be, should they actually manage to defeat America. There is no chance the terrorists can defeat America on theuir own.
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