President Bush stopped off in Iraq, en route to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Australia. This time the President did not stop in Baghdad, but at Al Asad Air Base, (second largest airfield in Iraq) about 112 miles west of Baghdad.
This is fine, but if it were me, I would have stopped off in Australia for the summit and then spent a much longer time in Iraq, visiting as many posts as possible. The security people would have kittens about such an extended visit, but risks go with the Presidential chair. The President needs to see the troops -- if only as an antidote to the negative spin and doom-mongering produced by the media, but also because a first-hand look is always more useful than reports, statistics and second hand accounts. More importantly, the troops have a right to see their leaders, and they need to know that the leadership has not forgotten them.
Lieut. Col. Ralph Peters' New York Post column today usefully summarizes what is possible, and not possible, in Iraq, and reminds of the stakes:
Whether or not it was worth it in 2003 (and I still believe it was), it's certainly worth the fight now. By our enemies' choice, Iraq became the central battleground between civilization and terror, between good and evil - despite the left's denial that the latter exists.
Colonel Peters -- in Baghdad for his own first hand look -- is absolutely correct, as is his warning against buying into the "constant negativity in the media." Read the whole thing.