The Surprise that is Increasingly not So Surprising

Via CBS:  Biden Makes Surprise Visit to Iraq.

As I have noted before:

I continue to think that the need to continue to have all high-level visits to be “unannounced” or via “surprise” to be a useful metric in measuring the security situation in Iraq. Certainly it speaks volumes about the fact that security is far from what it needs to be.

Previous observations along these lines:

And the Pattern Continues…

An Oil Deal in Iraq (and a Surprise!)

And the Trend Continues…

Another Surprise Visit to Iraq

Another Surprise Visit to Baghdad

Bush Makes Stop in Iraq

More on the Rice Visit

Surprise! Bush in Iraq

Surprise! Rummy in Iraq

FILED UNDER: US Politics, World Politics, , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. The reason for surprise visits in the past, of course. was the fact that the security situation was far too dicey to announce in advance that the POTUS or VPOTUS would be landing in Baghdad. I remember, in fact, that President Bush landed late at night at least one of the times he visited there so as to cut down the risks of anti-aircraft missiles.

    If we continue to need to do this for security reasons, then the situation in Iraq is far less stable than we’re being led to believe.

    If it’s not for security, then it’s a publicity stunt.

    Not that a politician would ever engage in a publicity stunt, of course

  2. grampagravy says:

    It’s S.O.P., the publicity stunt is on the part of CBS plugging in the standard buzz word for this kind of story. I’m sure there are those who would love to paint a target on Biden’s plane and announce his arrival time well in advance, but it’s hardly a publicity stunt to deny them the opportunity.

  3. I must confess, I don’t see the PR stun value here. For one thing (as noted) this has been going on for years and across administrations (and happens in Afghanistan as well).

    Further, if one wants to make PR splash, then how about having the first ever announced trip to Iraq with all the commensurate statements about how safe things have become.

    No, I stand by my basic assessment: this is about the poor nature of the security situation.

  4. Liandro says:

    As someone who served on the ground in Iraq in 2005 and then again in 2009/2010, let me assure you: the situation on the ground is far, far more secure. Not even a question; not even close. I came back in 2005 wondering if it was even possible to win (part of why I paid attention to Ron Paul), and I came back this past May with a much more positive take.

    They still have work to do, and if I were an American politician I would still take immense precautions. Perhaps that was all this was. Well, with a bit of the dramatic press angle thrown in.