President Obama Makes Surprise Trip to Iraq

I suppose this visit will be considered more of a success than the last presidential visit to Iraq.

President Obama was scheduled to head home today, but he made a surprise stop in a country of unique interest.

President Obama made an unannounced trip to Baghdad on Tuesday, punctuating his week-long overseas trip with a stop to talk to American troops and Iraqi leaders.

Air Force One landed at Baghdad International Airport under heavy security at 4:42 p.m. in the afternoon; military officials shut down the airport and roads into the capital were deserted.

Aboard the plane, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters that Mr. Obama decided to make the trip to Iraq because he was nearby, making a state visit to Turkey, and because he wanted to show his appreciation of the troops.

"Our men and women who are in harm's way, either in Iraq or Afghanistan, deserve our utmost respect and appreciation," Mr. Gibbs said.

Conditions in Iraq have obviously improved of late, but the president's visit was a reminder that the country is still obviously dangerous. Obama's stop in Iraq was shrouded in secrecy, and the area around the airport was effectively shut down for security reasons.

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Steve Benen is "blogger in chief" of the popular Washington Monthly online blog, Political Animal. His background includes publishing The Carpetbagger Report, and writing for a variety of publications, including Talking Points Memo, The American Prospect, the Huffington Post, and The Guardian. He has also appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Air America Radio's "Sam Seder Show," and XM Radio's "POTUS '08."