Monday, September 03, 2007

Bush goes to Anbar (they told him he was going to the beach for Labor Day)

Bush made a surprise visit to Iraq today, to meet, we are told, with his “war council.” They’re pretending this trip is part of the process whereby Bush decides how to proceed in Iraq, as opposed to a photo-op intended to sell the war and pressure Congress. The war council includes Robert Gates, Condoleezza Not-So-Bright, Petraeus, Ryan Crocker, the little-seen War Troubadour Tsar Douglas Lute, and Boo Hadley.

He went to the al-Assad air base in Anbar province, to highlight the improved security of Anbar province, which is secure as long as you don’t leave al-Assad air base. Which he won’t.

Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said the meetings were held at the air base instead of in Baghdad “because Mr. Bush wanted to see first hand the progress in Anbar”. And, you know, the thing about Bush is that after spending his entire trip inside an air base he will actually believe that he has seen first hand the progress in Anbar.

He met Maliki and Talabani, who he gave “a customary Middle Eastern greeting of three pecks on the cheek”. Why oh why are there no pictures of this? And did he climb across the table to do it?

He then declared Talabani to be “Mr. President, Mr. President, the president of the whole Iraq.”

To attend this meeting, Maliki made his third trip to Anbar (just two more than Bush). He always has to be dragged there kicking and screaming by Gen. Petraeus, and his reluctant visits are always portrayed as a sign of reconciliation and increased security. I’m not sure if the president of the whole Iraq has been to Anbar before. It’s not clear if Maliki was planning to talk to the Sunni tribal sheiks whom Bush will meet; certainly he didn’t attend the meeting Bush will be in.

115° in Iraq, and Bush decides to dress like Johnny Cash. All you need to know about the man.

I take it back. That sign says all you need to know about the man.

As Caitlin Upton could tell us, many US Americans can’t find The Iraq on a map.

Before he caught his plane for Anbar, Maliki was asked by a reporter about the massive corruption in his regime. He responded by attacking Radhi al-Radhi, the head of the Public Integrity Commission, in charge of fighting corruption, saying he had fled the country because he is facing corruption charges (trumped up against him by Maliki). Al-Radhi, reached by AP, says he is actually just taking a training course in the US.

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