Thursday, November 27, 2003


George W Bush's Thanksgiving trip to Iraq was a coup de theatre, from the troops' unscripted roar of approval to the President's unscripted emotion. He appeared genuinely taken aback at the warmth of his reception.

BBC televison news inevitably spun the whole thing as a well-managed election stunt ("this will go down well back at home"), but that's a pretty risky way to spend Thanksgiving in exchange for a few news clips. Rather ruins the old campaign if an RPG takes you out of the sky - and the propaganda coup of killing him would have been a major defeat for the West - well, that part of it that doesn't read the Guardian, anyway.

Maybe Bush is conscious of the troops he's sending out to be shot at. His hero Churchill put it like this.

"A man who has to play an effective part in taking, with the highest responsibility, grave and terrible decisons of war may need the refreshment of adventure. He may need also the comfort that when sending so many others to their death he may share in a small way their risks. I rely on my own judgement, invoked in many serious matters, as to what are the proper limits of risk which a person who discharges my duties is entitled to run."