THE LATEST SURPRISE TRIP TO IRAQ…. President Obama was scheduled to head home today, but he made a surprise stop in a country of unique interest.

President Obama made an unannounced trip to Baghdad on Tuesday, punctuating his week-long overseas trip with a stop to talk to American troops and Iraqi leaders.

Air Force One landed at Baghdad International Airport under heavy security at 4:42 p.m. in the afternoon; military officials shut down the airport and roads into the capital were deserted.

Aboard the plane, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters that Mr. Obama decided to make the trip to Iraq because he was nearby, making a state visit to Turkey, and because he wanted to show his appreciation of the troops.

“Our men and women who are in harm’s way, either in Iraq or Afghanistan, deserve our utmost respect and appreciation,” Mr. Gibbs said.

Conditions in Iraq have obviously improved of late, but the president’s visit was a reminder that the country is still obviously dangerous. Obama’s stop in Iraq was shrouded in secrecy, and the area around the airport was effectively shut down for security reasons.

Regardless, while in Iraq, the president is scheduled to meet with Gen. Odierno and other U.S. troops at Camp Victory, and will reportedly award Medals of Valor. He was apparently planning to visit the Green Zone, but plans were scrapped due to bad weather, and Obama will speak to Iraq’s president and Prime Minister by telephone instead.

No one, as far as I can tell, tried to hit Obama with a shoe, so I suppose this visit will be considered more of a success than the last presidential visit to Iraq.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.