President makes surprise visit to Iraq

Via the AP:

AL-ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq (AP) – President Bush made a surprise visit to Iraq on Monday, using the war zone as a backdrop to argue his case that the buildup of U.S. troops is helping stabilizing the nation.

The president secretly flew 11 hours to Iraq as a showdown nears with Congress over whether his decision in January to order 30,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq is working.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived ahead of Bush, and convened a meeting with the country’s top political leaders to highlight Bush administration hopes for prodding Iraq into a “bottom-up” approach to national reconciliation.

Gates conferred with senior U.S. officials, including Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, before opening a session with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani, and other top Iraqi officials from Baghdad.

Bush and his national security team flew directly to this air base in a remote part of Anbar province, bypassing Baghdad in a symbolic expression of impatience with political paralysis in the nation’s capital. The gesture underscored the U.S. belief that the spark for progress may come at the local level.

In the meantime, the liberal McClatchy news outlet reports that combat deaths are down in Iraq since the surge began, and their ‘experts’ are confused as to why:

WASHINGTON — 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.

Of course, the comments section of that article is filled with “progressives” downplaying the news as “spin,” with several armchair experts pointing to this site or that one supposedly showing the ‘real’ numbers. Why, it’s almost like they’re disappointed that troop deaths are down … perhaps because the less troop deaths in Iraq, the less number of men and women in the military they can use in their pathetic little anti-war campaign against the Bush administration?

And speaking of anti-war stormtroopers, Pat Dollard blogged yesterday about Bush-hating billionaire Mark Cuban, the apparent money man behind Brian De Palma’s despicable troop-smearing flick “Redacted.” Over at Little Green Footballs, Charles Johnson points out that the Huffington Post commenters are going wild with glee over the news about this movie. Just another day at the office for the military-loathing loonies on the far left.

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