President Obama made an unannounced stop today in Baghdad, where he told some 600 US troops at Camp Victory that it's time for Iraqis to "take responsibility for their country" after America's commitment of six years and thousands of lives. "You have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country," he said. "That is an extraordinary achievement." As he spoke inside a marble palace, he was interrupted repeatedly with cheers from the troops, many holding up digital cameras.
"I love you," someone in the crowd shouted out. "I love you back," the commander in chief replied. Obama spoke favorably of political progress but also expressed concern that recent gains could be lost. "It's important for us to use all of our influence to encourage the parties to resolve these issues in ways that are equitable," he said. "I think that my presence here can help do that." Plans to visit the Green Zone in Baghdad were scrapped due to the weather; Obama will instead talk to Nouri al-Maliki and Jalal Talabani by phone.