Bush's Covert Trip to Iraq

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As I listened to the praise of the "bold and productive" move by President Bush to leave under a cloak of misinformation and secrecy to show up unannounced in Iraq for a photo op, I was struck by the comparison of the act to what our soldiers face and past President's have braved. If I look at how Pres. Bush visited Iraq and tune out the spin and bluster, it appears as an action of a frightened man unwilling to share any risk at all with his soldiers who risk all on his orders.

There was virtually no risk at all in the President taking this trip. President Bush apparently has no trust in Iraqi's new leader as the Associated Press reports Al-Maliki, the new head of the Iraqi government "didn't know Bush was coming until five minutes before they met". Apparently, no one but Bush's closest cabinet and key personnel of intelligence, Pentagon and Secret Service communities were aware the trip was being made.

No Iraqis, and no American press in Iraq were informed that Pres. Bush was there until moments before his appearance in a totally secured and locked down environment. The President misled the American people into believing he was conducting an Iraqi policy conference at Camp David. I had to ask myself what it means to me that a President would go to such inordinate measures to insure his own safety while visiting a country in which thousands of his troops have died and many more have been wounded and where every hour of every day, the soldiers their risk all they have?

President LBJ visited the troops in Viet Nam in 1967 at Cam Ranh Bay, and while security was tight, hiding the trip and cloaking his every move in secrecy, and misleading the people to get there were not a part of the LBJ's itenerary. LBJ was not afraid of the world knowing of his trip to our troops in Viet Nam. He demonstrated his confidence in our troops to protect him and his defiance toward the N. Vietnamese to stop him.

Perhaps I am being too harsh. But, prior to deciding to write this article, I asked myself: If I were President and going to make a trip to visit the new Government leader in Iraq, would I cower in cloaks of secrecy and fear for my safety in visiting Iraq where my troops are daily losing life and limb for me and their country? My honest answer is no. I would not. I would either not make the trip at all for a photo opportunity with the new government leader, or, I would demonstrate confidence and pride in my own military to protect me on an announced and widely covered news media arrival. That would demonstrate a defiance and confidence in the face of the enemy which I know our troops would be proud of.

There is no charging up San Juan Hill Teddy Roosevelt in Pres. G.W. Bush, that's for sure. But, there is nothing wrong with prudence and caution when one is President. But, when one is President, one is the leader of all our military. And as a leader, one has to be willing to share the burden and risk of those who follow one's lead. Failure to do that says something about a person in leadership that undermines both their position and their authority to ask others to do what the leader is not willing to. In my view, the President has just acted in the most unflattering way toward America's image in the world as confident. I am embarrassed by my President's lack of courage in this maneuver. For this action by President Bush seems strangely reminiscent of the cowardly leadership of Osama bin Laden who chooses to lead from afar and under cloaks of secrecy asking his minions to risk all while he hides in safety coming out to make video tapes only when 100% security can be assured.

Bush's style of leadership is very different from that of Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Teddy Roosevelt, or Gen. Robert E. Lee. And I find myself longing for such leadership again in future presidents of our great nation since it appears so absent today.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on June 14, 2006 9:44 AM.

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Iraq - US Widening The Civil War is the next entry in this blog.

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