President Bush made a surprise visit to Anbar Province, Iraq today and is meeting with U.S. and Iraqi officials to showcase the success that been made in Anbar since the surge began.
The president was to meet with Army Gen. David Petreaus and other military commanders and Ryan C. Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, before holding a session with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and members of his central government and afterwards he will meet with Sunni tribal leaders whose cooperation has made Anbar Province, a former al-Qaeda stronghold, significantly safer during the past year..
From the NYT:
Administration officials said that Mr. Bush had made the decision to travel to Iraq along with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to meet face-to-face with General Petraeus and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki because it was his last chance to do so before completing a review of his Iraq strategy.
"He has assembled essentially his war cabinet here, and they are all convening with the Iraqi leadership to discuss the way forward," said the Pentagon Press Secretary, Geoff Morrell. "This will be the last big gathering of the president before the president makes a decision on the way forward," he added, noting that Mr. Bush will leave here for a trip to Australia.
This is Bush's third surprise visit to Iraq.
The U.S. delegation, which also included National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Petraeus and Adm. William Fallon, the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East, met with five Iraqi leaders, including Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and President Jalal Talibani. To ensure that all of Iraq's major ethnic and religious groups were represented, U.S. officials also invited a Sunni, Vice President Tariq Hashimi; a Shiite, Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi; and a Kurd, Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih.
Officials chose Anbar as the meeting site to emphasize the progress made in reducing violence in the province, and to give both Bush and Iraqi politicians the chance to meet with Sunni tribal leaders who once helped lead the opposition to the U.S. military presence. (Source)
Lets not forget that today kicks off the Move America Forward caravan across the country, starting in Carson City, Nevada and moving 4,384 miles with 27 stops until the reach Capitol Hill on the 15th of September.
I will be updating throughout the day and adding photos and will add the link, here, after I have done the first post.
Keep track of the progress of the caravan at Move America Forward's website.
Their has been a concentrated effort on behalf of the Democratic party to country this Victory Tour, I guess we will call that the Defeat Tour.
More on Bush's trip to Iraq from CNN.
[Update] Additional thoughts on Bush's choice of Anbar. For those unaware, Anbar was generally written off as a lost cause this time last year, al-Qaeda ruled and our military was fighting for their lives day in and day out and due to cooperation with the Sheiks, the Iraqi citizens and the U.S. military and coalition forces, Anbar is the example of the progress and success that can be seen because it is coming to life and al-Qaeda has been run out as the Iraqi's said "ENOUGH" and started actively fighting side by side with our forces to clean it up and return life to normal. [End Update]
[Update #2] A group of Australians have launched a website ahead of President George Bush's visit to Australia to thank him and support him, as per the email they sent me:
The United States of America is the greatest force for good in the history of mankind. To welcome President George W Bush to Sydney for the APEC Conference a group of Australians have launched a website:
The aim of the site is to encourage everyday Australians to place a greater value on our alliance with the United States. The website lists the, ‘TEN REASONS INTELLIGENT AUSTRALIANS SAY ‘THANK YOU AMERICA.' The first reason given is that America saved Australia from an invasion from Imperial Japan in World War II.
Aussies 4 ANZUS is particularly supportive of President George W Bush. We believe there are significant parallels between President Bush and President Harry Truman. Both became President’s at the start of a global struggle against a terrifying menace. In his day Truman’s popularly polls were lower than President Bush’s but today, with the successful conclusion of the Cold War, Truman is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest Presidents. History will also judge that President Bush put in place a framework which will also eventually result in victory for democracy.
For further comment contact John Ruddick. Australia: 0424 859 002. Phone Overseas: 61 424 859 002
Got love the Aussies!!!!!!! [End Update]
[Update #3] Just a quick interesting note here. This trip to Iraq has become the most blogged about subject on memeorandum, a site that tells people what is being talked about around the blogosphere and in the news.
Talk about dominating the conversation. [End Update]
[Update #4] Kudos to Hot Air for leading us to the YouTube video of Bush's speech from Iraq.[End update]
Text of the President's speech can be found at the White House Website.
(If you do not want to listen to the whole 7:19 minutes of the speech, (video above) move the bar to the 5 minute 50 second spot, or where it shows 1 minutes, 30 seconds left of the video where President Bush says:
But I want to tell you this about the decision -- about my decision about troop levels. Those decisions will be based on a calm assessment by our military commanders on the conditions on the ground -- not a nervous reaction by Washington politicians to poll results in the media. (Hooah.)Listen to our troops with that Hooah and understand what they think about nervous politicians listening to polls instead of conditions on the ground.)
(NOTE: Instead of leaving you with the advertisements I usually have at the bottom of each post, I will leave you with one of the videos from Freedoms Watch) [30 second video.]
Another Wounded Veteran speaks about anger at Congress and Victory:
Tracked back by:
Proud Marine Would Head Back to Iraq if He Could from Burkean Reflections...
Bush Enthusiastically Welcomed in Surprise Trip to from Bottom Line Up Front...