Mr Bush visited Baghdad on June 13, 2006. The press as usual emphasises the skill of the White House in arranging these trips without public awareness and seems awed by the Kissinger-type planning of secret missions.
Yet the larger point is that Iraq is lost. The tragic civil war which the U.S. caused by its invasion requires that an American president sneak in under cover for fear of security lapses. Americans are apparently to believe that the situation in Iraq is moving forward and that Mr Bush’s presence will undergird the new government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. Yet the mere fact of the Secret Service having to take extraordinary security precautions is evidence enough that the nation is unfurling into another Lebanon of the 1980s.
Also I think it is somewhat extraordinary that the president of the United States would not even inform the host nation’s government of his visit. Imagine if the president of Iran, or the president of Syria or even France were to arrive in the U.S. without prepublicity or prior notification of Washington. Apparently the Iraqi prime minister and other senior officials were notified after the president was safely on the ground or even in the Green Zone. There is a certain arrogance for an imperial president, visiting a colony, and not even receiving an invitation to enter a supposedly “sovereign” state.
I recognise this was probably due to security concerns but, nonetheless, it rankles me to think that even the rudimentary rules of diplomatic protocol were ignored. It also affirms the chaos in-country, the utter lack of Iraqi primacy in determining policy and an administration that is attempting to raise its poll numbers and improve its image. Yet its arrogance is evidenced when it lacks the capacity or even the honour to reassess a policy that has destroyed Iraq, destablilised the region, propelled Iran to seek military deterrence through a nuclear programme and caused the deaths of 2500 Americans.