Advocating on Behalf of the American Military and Defense on the War on Terror

Un-Freaking-Believable.  Democrats in Congress and in the Senate are now rushing to heap accolades on American troops who are winning the war in Iraq.

The same trooops who 'lost' the war years ago. The same Democrats who claim that Al Qaeda doesn't exist in Iraq. 

You remember the leaders who claimed that Bush lied us into the war, it's unjust, immoral, and was started so corporate interests could grab Iraq's oil.

What's with the change of tune? Politics. Pure and simple.

God. Save. Us.

Democrats praise military progress

By KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press Writer Wed Aug 8, 7:33 PM ET

WASHINGTON - One senator said U.S. troops are routing out al-Qaida in parts of Iraq. Another insisted President Bush's plan to increase troops has caused tactical momentum.

One even went so far on Wednesday as to say the argument could be made that U.S. troops are winning.

These are not Bush-backing GOP die-hards, but Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, Bob Casey and Jack Reed. Even Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee, said progress was being made by soldiers.

The suggestions by them and other Democrats in recent days that at least a portion of Bush's strategy in Iraq is working is somewhat surprising, considering the bitter exchanges on Capitol Hill between the Democratic majority and Republicans and Bush. Democrats have long said Bush's policies have been nothing more than a complete failure.

The Democrats' choice to acknowledge the military's progress in Iraq signals support for the troops, a message that voters want to hear. But they still heap criticism on Bush and his Iraq strategy, which promises to be a prominent issue in next year's presidential election.

All of Washington is waiting for the September assessment from Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker about the Bush administration strategy. Bush has called the plan a "surge" because it poured thousands more troops into the country.

A key component of the January plan was that there be political progress in Iraq. Last week, the chief lawmaking body in Iraq went into recess until September without accomplishing much of what U.S. leaders had hoped they would.

Levin, while saying military progress was being made, said the troop build-up could not be considered a success because its purpose was to make way for political reconciliation, and that hasn't happened.

"The only hope is if they take the responsibility onto themselves and we end the open-ended military commitment," Levin, of Michigan, said Sunday on CNN's "Late Edition."

Reed, a Rhode Island senator who visited Iraq last month, said there's been tactical momentum, but it "has yet to translate itself into real political momentum, which is the key, I think, to progress."

Durbin, an Illinois senator who is traveling this week with Pennsylvania Sen. Casey, told CNN on Wednesday that "naturally" troops are routing out al-Qaida in parts of Iraq, but then explained there's no evidence of the government in the areas.

In a conference call with reporters, Casey said one could make a good argument that U.S. troops have won the war, then accused Iraqi politicians and the Bush administration of not matching the intensity of the troops.

"The troops have met every assignment, they've beaten the odds time and again, they've done everything we've asked them to," Casey said.

California Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney had a different take. After visiting Iraq last month and visiting with Petraeus, McNerney said signs of progress led him to decide he'll be a little more flexible about when troops should be brought home.

"I'm more willing to work with finding a way forward to accommodate what the generals are saying," McNerney said.

___

Associated Press writers Erica Werner and Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.

Politics


Aug. 9, 2007, 3:40AM
Polls show shift in attitudes on Iraq following military inroads

By TOM RAUM
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Even some critics of President Bush's Iraq war policies are conceding there is evidence of recent improvements from a military standpoint. But Bush supporters and critics alike agree that these have not been matched by any noticeable progress on the political front.

Despite U.S. pressure, Iraq's parliament went on vacation for a month after failing to pass either legislation to share the nation's oil wealth or to reconcile differences among the factions. And nearly all Sunni representatives in the government have quit, undermining the legitimacy of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite.

Still, there have been signs of changes in attitudes, some on the ground in Iraq, some in the United States:

— Two critics of Bush's recent handling of Iraq, Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, both of the Brookings Institution, penned an op-ed opinion piece in The New York Times suggesting after a visit that "we are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms." They recommended Congress sustain the current troop buildup "at least into 2008."

— Leading anti-war Democrat Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania predicted that U.S. commanders will begin drawing down troop levels early next year and that Congress can be more flexible in setting a fixed deadline for ending the U.S. occupation.

— Polls suggest that Bush has had some degree of success in linking Islamic militants in Iraq with the al-Qaida terrorist movement.

"The administration is aggressively engaged in shifting (public) attitudes. And our side has been less aggressive than it needs to be," said Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. "The administration has been making inroads on their Iraqi argument, particularly linking it to terrorism."

After sliding to just 28 percent in June, within range of an all-time low, Bush's job approval rating on handling Iraq rose slightly to 31 percent in July, according to AP-Ipsos polling. And a recent CBS/NYT poll showed an increase in the percentage of Americans who think the U.S. did the right thing in going to war with Iraq, up to 42 percent from 35 percent in May.

"I don't claim our recommendation to keep surging into 2008 is a no-brainer. That can be debated. But I think people's opinions need to catch up with the battlefield facts," O'Hanlon said in an interview.

The op-ed piece he wrote with Pollack has been widely circulated by war supporters but denounced by many war critics. "As long as people start to get a sense that what's happening on the battlefield is different and better than what it was, then I feel like we've made our contribution," said O'Hanlon.

O'Hanlon and Pollack supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but they have been sharply critical of the administration's handling of the aftermath.

Like the Iraqi parliament, Congress has recessed for the rest of August, to return in September — when an eagerly awaited progress report on Iraq will be presented by Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

What lawmakers hear from their constituents during the next month could do a lot to shape the Iraq debate ahead of receiving that report.

Visiting Iraq, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, said Wednesday from Baghdad that American-led forces were "making some measurable progress, but it's slow going."

"As our troops show some progress toward security, the government of this nation is moving in the opposite direction. This is really unsustainable with the American people," Durbin said in an interview with National Public Radio.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said that Petraeus' plan was "producing good results. And the troops have achieved tactical momentum against al-Qaida. ...We're anxious to see what General Petraeus has to say in September. It will be a watershed moment in our efforts in Iraq."

Petraeus asserted that "we are making progress. We have achieved tactical momentum in many areas, especially against al-Qaida Iraq, and to a lesser degree against the militia extremists." Still, he told Fox News on Tuesday that "there are innumerable challenges."