President Bush made an unannounced stop in Afghanistan today while en route to India.
The US president’s un-scheduled stop in Kabul came as he made his way to New Delhi, where he was to be greeted by some of the most pro-American metropolitan elites in the world. Mr Bush’s approval ratings may have dropped to a low of 34 per cent at home, but in India, they are double that.
There was a lot of talk yesterday about that dubious approval rating percentage, yet the accuracy of the poll doesn’t seem to matter to MSNBC.
The Kabul visit was part of a four-day south Asian tour that has offered him the prospect of a rare foreign policy success. Accompanied by Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state, and Stephen Hadley, national security adviser, Mr Bush behaved warmly towards Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan, who hailed him as a friend and liberator of the Afghan people.
Behaved warmly? As opposed to what – misbehaving coldly? Weird.
Yet, at a press conference interrupted by the roar of military aircraft, Mr Bush struggled to explain why the Taliban were still a force in Afghanistan and why Osama Bin Laden, famously “wanted dead or alive”, was still on the loose.
Mr Bush said he was confident of the capture of the mastermind of the September 11 attacks and of Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar. “It’s not a matter of if they’re captured, it’s a matter of when they’re brought to justice,” Mr Bush said.
Forget about the fact that Afghanistan is a mountainous region where it’s very easy to hide. That makes it difficult enough to find bin Laden. The other real problem is one of sympathy. There are many Afghanis who like bin Laden and are willing to help him. Likewise, the Pakistanis. As long as someone is willing to lie to keep bin Laden hidden, this cat and mouse game will continue.
That the White House felt it necessary to keep the visit secret speaks volumes about the unfinished job facing coalition forces in Afghanistan, where the US lost more lives last year than in any since the invasion and removal of the Taliban.
When reporters on Air Force One asked about a rumoured stopover in Afghanistan at a refuelling stop at Shannon airport in Ireland, Mr Hadlee responded curtly: “We’re briefing India and Pakistan. That’s the trip that we’re talking to you about.”
A similar information blackout surrounds his trip to Pakistan, for which no formal schedule has been published, reflecting unease at the swelling wave of anti-western riots triggered by the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
Ah, the MSM. Always looking for a controversy. A scandal. There is none of that here. Not announcing a stop over in Afghanistan is purely an issue of security. Just as Bush didn’t announce his surprise Thanksgiving Day visit to Iraq a couple of years ago, he can’t preannounce a visit to a place where terrorist attacks might occur. If the administration were to hype a visit like this, half a dozen suicide bombers would be raising their hands to voluntarily ‘meet’ the president at the airport.
I think this is just another case of the MSM feeling hurt by not being in the loop. They hate that.
Visiting Kabul is a smart move by the president. It serves a dual purpose – he gets to visit with a new American ally, President Hamid Karzai, and he gets an opportunity to be with US troops – always a morale booster.