Was the President's trip to Baghdad worth the security risk?

  • Share
  • Read Later
President Bush's surprise visit to Baghdad on Thanksgiving Day to visit U.S. troops was greeted with cheers from the soldiers present and with support from lawmakers on both sides of the political divide. While the morale boost behind the Commander-in-Chief's visit is evident, the security risks inherent in visiting one of the world's most dangerous cities required extra precaution. Reporters were warned not to mention the trip; Air Force One flew into Baghdad in total darkness; and even the President's family was unaware of his location. Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has noted the thousands of Surface-to-Air Missiles dispersed throughout Iraq. What do you think? Was the President's trip a necessary boost for morale? Or was it too much of a security risk?

Some of your responses:

Yes, This was just another show of leadership based on principle. If only we had something close to this leadership in the previous eight years and not completely politically driven decisions, our history may have been different.
Bud Elliott
N. Myrtle Beach, S.C.

As a liberal college student, this is one move of the President's that I feel was done for the right reasons. I know a few people my age who are overseas, or who were in Afghanistan, and in my eyes and theirs, it was nothing but an encouraging surprise.
Laura Richard
Los Angeles, Calif.

From the point of view of Mr. Bush's loyal Republican voters, who were getting weary of the war toll, yes. For upstaging Mrs. Clinton's appearance, and making her look bad, yes. For making it up to the soldiers, for whom he has passed up 441 chances to pay his respect for their giving their lives to our country, no.
N. Ward
Cleveland, Ohio

Definitly yes, for the troops, as well as the public at large. It may have been a stunt, yet we needed a refresher, and the stunt humanized the efforts being made in Iraq and also to counter the spread of terrorism. Well done, Mr. President ... but don't do it again soon!
Gerald Chartrand
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

I am no fan of the President's, but I think his risking his life to go to Baghdad was inexcusable. I did not vote for him, and I CERTAINLY did not vote for Cheney, who we would have if anything happened to the President. I'm sure the troops appreciated the visit, but I believe he did it for the photo opportunity, not for the troops.
Frances Huettinger
San Diego, Calif.

Worth it to whom? The sitting-duck soldiers have to sit there while the President boasts about his intention to "turn this baby around and come home" at the slightest hint of danger. Why can't more people see the cowardice, the conniving stage-managed manipulation, the delusions of grandeur being indulged in by this idiot-king?
G. Roberts
Austin, Texas

An absolute YES!!! This President shows he has the guts and heart in taking on risks. America is blessed to have such a stand-up man as Commander-in-Chief. What better way to show our troops that he stands shoulder to shoulder with them than a surprise visit that is of such high risk to himself. As for those who complain that it is a photo-op show; why don't they pose the same question to the NY Senator? Talking about being biased, this really shows it.
D. Dore
Wilmington, Del.

George Bush has not shown one bit of heart for the military men and women and this escapade did nothing to erase his ideas to reduce enlisted soldier's pay, combat pay, separation allowance and veteran's benefits. We will be paying for this war for a long time. The amount of money spent on this campaign photo op was a waste.
Ann Phlilben
Bend, Ore.

Personally I think it was all political. He knew that if he succeeded in that attempt to capture attention from the U.S. he would get a lot more of the support he wanted. It was more of a selfish motive behind the reason he went.
Christopher Hill
Ft. Bragg, N.C.

Yes! The risks were evaluated and necessary precautions were taken. What President Bush (unlike his predecessor Bill Clinton) demonstrated is the difference between "authority" and "leadership." Clearly, President Bush is a leader.
Audy Kimura
Honolulu, Hawaii

Having served four tours in Vietnam, I know the President's willingness to sacrifice Thanksgiving Day with his family to spend it with our troops touched their hearts as I know it did mine. What a thoughtful gesture to thank all of those who are there serving our country. Praise God for George Bush!
Philip B. Evans
Fairbanks, Alaska

Bush's two hour photo-op visit to Iraq was meant to upstage Hillary Clinton's much-publicized intention to visit Iraq. She made that announcement long before the spinmeisters in the White House wet themselves trying to figure out a way to take the wind out of Hillary's sails. Their answer: let's arrange a quick and secret visit to Iraq by the Clown-in-Chief.
Jim Guinnessey
Miami, Fla.

Worth it? Probably for the effort to elect the formerly unelected "president." Flag-wavers who have not lost loved ones in Bush's adventure in empire will salivate over the military deserter's platitudes and photo-ops, but geniune Americans see through his criminal cowardice. Better you should ask if 440 lost American lives (and thousands of innocent Iraqis) are "worth" the colonial PNAC [Project for the New American Century] experiment.
Karl Schneider
Wagoner, Okla.

I think the President's visit to our troops for Thanksgiving was worth the risk. I spent two tours in South Korea and any visit from our leadership in the U.S. was a welcome reminder of why I served. Despite the spin the media will make of the visit, I think it showed a side of the Presidency we need to see more of — true support for the men and women in our armed services.
Scott Lindsey
Birch Bay, Wash.

How can we talk about security risk after the event has passed? It was a "risk" but nothing happened to him. It only goes to show our President does not fear evil.
David M.
Las Vegas, Nev.

Yes! Any criticism of motives is absolutely insignificant in comparison to the fact that the President was able to personally thank these men and women in Iraq who are giving up lives and limbs in our behalf.
Jerry Brown
Huntington, N.Y.

Definitely no. The potential loss of America's stature if anything had happened to the President was not balanced by the morale boost for the troops. This was an irresponsible decision by the President ... again.
Douglas Wang
Shaker Heights, Ohio

Besides morale boost and support: If it's worth the risk of our thousands of troops' lives, then the president should be willing to risk his own to show us that. It also sends an important message to our enemy, "We will not go away and hide in fear".
Dustin Blasius
San Antonio, Texas

The modest and transient military morale-boost from Mr. Bush's trip was worth neither the risk of lives nor the cost to the taxpayers of several hundred thousand dollars to operate Air Force One. The effect on Iraqi morale was apparently negative.
Edward B. Mohns
La Jolla, Calif.

A resounding yes! President Bush has a heart for our military men and women and this was a wonderful way for him to show it. I just finished reading a published e-mail sent home by one of the soldiers that he spoke with while he was in Baghdad. His presence was the best morale booster that they could have.
Bernice Wynn
Torrance, Calif.

Previous Question: Should the federal government intervene in the gay-marriage debate?