OBAMA’S UNEXPECTED TRIP TO AFGHANISTAN…. The White House announced Friday afternoon that President Obama and his family would enjoy a quiet weekend at Camp David, following a busy and historic week in Washington.
President Obama made a surprise trip to Afghanistan on Sunday, his first visit as commander in chief to the site of the war he inherited and has stamped as his own.
Air Force One landed at nighttime at Bagram Air Base after a 13-hour nonstop flight for a visit shrouded in secrecy for security reasons; Mr. Obama quickly boarded a helicopter for the trip to Kabul, landing at the presidential palace for talks with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan.
Gen. James L. Jones, the National Security adviser, told reporters aboard the flight to Bagram that Mr. Obama would try to make Mr. Karzai “understand that in his second term, there are certain things that have not been paid attention to, almost since day one.” Gen. Jones said those things included “a merit-based system for appointment of key government officials, battling corruption, taking the fight to the narco-traffickers,” which, “provides a lot of the economic engine for the insurgents.”
Based on early reports, this visit, kept classified until Obama’s plane touched down, was hardly a photo-op. Newsweek noted, “[T]here appears to be little fanfare during the trip. The welcoming ceremony between Karzai and Obama lasted no more than 10 minutes and the meetings that will follow between the two men and their national security teams seem to be strictly business…. For Obama, there are few better ways to show you’re serious than showing up at someone’s door.”
This is the president’s second trip to Afghanistan, but his first since his election.
Though Obama’s schedule is not available, he will also reportedly visit with U.S. troops before returning.
The surprise visit caps a week that’s almost hard to believe. Over the last seven days, health care reform passed, a major overhaul of federal student loan programs passed, the terms of a breakthrough nuclear arms treaty with Russia were reached, and the president stopped by Afghanistan for a stern chat with Hamid Karzai.
Weeks like this don’t come along often.