Patrick Quinn, Chief of Southeast Europe News for the Associated Press, says President Bush's trip to Iraq was a complete failure. With a trip this bad, it's a wonder the White House even planned it.
Many Sunnis and even some Shiite political parties dismissed President Bush's visit to Baghdad on Tuesday as merely an attempt to associate himself with positive developments in Iraq – formation of the new government and last week's killing of the country's most feared terrorist.
Since he could find "many" Suunis and "some" Shiites who didn't like the visit, couldn't he also find "many" Sunnis and "some" Shiites to praise the visit? Apparently not, as every source cited in the article plays down the trip.
An aide to Muqtada al-Sadr denounced the visit, as well as a Baghdad University professor.
The anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr planned a demonstration for Wednesday to protest Bush's presence in the country.
“This visit carries a lot of meanings, but this visit means nothing to the Iraqi street. There will never be any benefits from such a visit and the only one to benefit from this visit is Bush himself and his troops here, not the Iraqi people,” said Hassan al-Robaie, a lawmaker loyal to al-Sadr.
Baghdad University political science professor Nabil Mohammed Selim said the president's trip was a bid to show the world that he has achieved something in this country, including the killing last week of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Bush's political standing in the United States portends a difficult election for fellow Republicans in November's congressional elections.
“In fact, nothing has been achieved in Iraq, hundreds of innocent Iraqis are being killed daily because of the chaos,” Selim said.
Quinn made the case for why everything in Iraq is going to the dogs.
On June 28, Iraq celebrates two years since the restoration of its sovereignty. In that time it has seen some success: three governments, two elections and a referendum on a constitution.
It has also seen a catastrophic failure to restore security and, more importantly, move the country away from sectarian killing and forced relocations that threaten to divide Iraq.
In Baghdad, dozens of people are blown up, shot or beheaded by sectarian gangs every day. Islamic extremists attack liquor stores, order women not to drive and shoot men for wearing shorts. The city of 6 million has become so dangerous that al-Maliki plans to restore security by flooding its streets with 75,000 Iraqi and American troops.
Then come the Kos talking points.
Bush and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad have made much of the fact that al-Maliki and his national unity government are the result of three years of democratic progress. But it is an experiment in Middle Eastern civics that has cost thousands of American and Iraqi lives and arguably has been outpaced by the Sunni insurgency.