Bush in Anbar
President Bush passed Anbar province on his way to the APEC meeting in Australia.
During six hours on the ground, the President met General Petraeus and other military commanders and Mr Crocker before holding a session with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and members of his central government.
Later, Mr Bush met Sunni tribal leaders who have recently ceased insurgent activities and joined the US in the fight against al-Qaeda.
The administration has repeatedly pointed to the success it is having at the local level in some provinces, such as Anbar, in forging a political reconciliation even though co-operation at the national level has proved much more difficult.
Ironically, the President's trip is a symbol of how much better grassroots efforts are working than those directed at the top -- the politicians in Baghdad. The implications of this undigested lesson have not yet affected the debate in Washington, where people still think in terms of "exit strategies", invasions of Syria and Iran or in grand diplomatic bargains with regional actors in the Middle East. It would be unfortunate if both sides of the ideological divide failed to take heed of the lessons -- not the preconceived lessons -- gained at such cost in the war against terrorism. One of these, but not the only one, is the importance of political warfighting capabilities at the grassroots level. Others, such as the key role played by information warfare, achieve but passing mention in a capital often obsessed with its own talking points.