President George Bush made a surprise visit to 600 American troops, and some Iraqi leaders, at Baghdad airport. This boosted morale among American troops, as the president showed his confidence in their work in maintaining security just by being there.
The visit will be portrayed by some of the media as a propaganda ploy. But the Iraq operations are increasingly a propaganda battle between media desperate to outdo each other with more spectacular stories. The favorite gambit is to concentrate on interviewing people in Sunni Arab areas. Most of these folks worked for Saddam and are now out of work and facing a dim future. So they can be sure to give an endless supply of anti-coalition comments. The most aggressive media are from Arab countries, and coalition troops recently arrested Arab journalists who were caught communicating with pro-Saddam forces, and getting advance information on attacks so the journalists could be there to film the attack and interview participants and witnesses. This reporting greatly distorts the truth about what is really going on in Iraq. In most of the country, rebuilding the country, after two decades of Baath Party mismanagement and corruption, is moving ahead rapidly. For most Iraqis, the only political problems are how to organize themselves locally and who to vote for. Saddam brutally suppressed any potential political rivals for over twenty years, so the political leadership is up for grabs. This is especially confusing for a population who have not experienced democracy since the Sunni Arab generals killed the king in 1958 and replaced the freely elected parliament with a hand picked one.