Monday, March 17, 2008

Five years after the invasion, American politicians still must make 'surprise' visits to Iraq

Just days after John McCain snuck into Baghdad for a surprise visit, Vice President Dick Cheney snuck into Iraq for a surprise visit .
Cheney took the opportunity to praise a reduction of violence that has occurred since Bush escalated the conflict by sending 30,000 additional troops last year.  However...
For security reasons, Cheney officials divulged few details about the vice president's schedule and asked reporters not to report on his location until he had moved on to another. Cheney was expected to make stops throughout the country, speak to troops and spend time with other Iraqi leaders.

Cheney's motorcade zigzagged through Baghdad to meetings as helicopter gunships circled overhead. Explosions were heard in parts of the city, but none were near the vice president.

The irony is not lost on Iraqis.

 "Unfortunately," said Faleh Hassan Shansal, a member of the parliamentary bloc loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada Sadr, "all American politicians and leaders sneak into Iraq in the darkness, without letting anyone know."

They have to do that, of course, because otherwise they would get killed.

For his part, Cheney conceded that there is still "a lot of difficult work" to do in Iraq.  That was gracious of him, considering that by  every benchmark that he and Bush established, the "surge" has failed.  The goal of sending 30,000 additional troops was not to bring about a tactical and temporary reduction in violence.  The goal was to give the Iraqi government time to make significant strides toward national political reconciliation.  This is not happening.

[Gen. David Petraeus], who is preparing to testify to Congress next month on the Iraq war, said in an interview that "no one" in the U.S. and Iraqi governments "feels that there has been sufficient progress by any means in the area of national reconciliation," or in the provision of basic public services.

Not to worry, though.  John McCain's plan is to continue the occupation for at least another 95 years.  That should be plenty of time for the Iraqis to work out their differences so our troops can come home.

Maybe by then American politicians will even be able to make scheduled visits to Baghdad in the light of day.