It appears that today is a watershed day with regard to US policy in Iraq. Democratic leaders now acknowledge that the surge is working. The only catch is, they say it's no surprise, they've known it for a while, and it's nothing significant. Senators Durbin and Casey are in Iraq, and were interviewed this morning by CNN's John Roberts (video below). Senator Durbin made the first attempt to recognize the success of the surge and dismiss it in one breath:
SEN. DICK DURBIN: There were two important parts of this story, the military type as Senator Casey said the men and women were doing their best and making real progress. We found that today as we went to a forward base. The fifth year of the war, it's the first time we're putting troops on the ground to intercept al Qaeda. There's another side to this story the Brookings institution shouldn't miss. As we are seeing military progress, any political scene is discouraging. We are seeing the al Maliki government once branded the government of unity coming apart. We are seeing Sunnis and others leaving and not becoming the stability of this country.
Senator Casey joins in a moment later:
ROBERTS: I understand all of that. Everybody in the Democratic Party is saying the surge has failed. Senator Casey, do you agree with your colleague there are some signs of military progress here? SEN. CASEY: Sure, there are, John. We have said in the beginning, our troops are doing their job.
Then Senator Casey complains that President Bush refuses to change course, and is offering the same old policy -- which by his own admission is yielding progress, and which he points out that he opposed:
SEN. CASEY: [continuing] The problem here is the president of the United States continues to insist on a stay the course policy, no change in direction, no sense the American people can determine there's a light at the end of the tunnel. That's why i think there's a bipartisan agreement right now to change the course. I think the president should listen to the will of the American people ROBERTS: Senator Casey, you supported this bill to bring troops home. Have you seen anything to change your mind on that while you're there? SEN. CASEY: No. I supported Levin-Reid and I voted initially, way back in the beginning of the year, against the surge. I think they're the right votes and continue to be the right votes. We have to make sure that the diplomacy and the political work that's done in Washington, as well as in Baghdad, what we're seeing now is the Iraqi government officials have left, we're seeing Sunni representatives have walked out and are boycotting. So the political work in Baghdad and Washington has to match the courage and the dedication of our troops. We haven't seen that yet.
Senator Casey's position--put succinctly--appears to be 'There is progress; there has been for some time. I opposed the switch to the current policy and I can't understand why the President won't change it.' That argument won't fool anyone. Anyone with a television or internet access knows that Democrats have argued incessantly that Iraq in general and the surge specifically are failures. For them to suddenly acknowledge progress--and to pretend that they've been talking about it for a while--is silly. It's hardly the sort of argument that will sway the American people to oppose a policy that is having success--success that seems to be recognized more each day. Watch the interview; it runs about four minutes.
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