Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) recently returned from a trip to Iraq and reported that, while he sees some signs of quietude in select areas, the larger mission is doomed because political reconciliation is “coming apart”:
There were two important parts of this story, the military part as Senator [Bob] Casey said, where men and women were doing their best and making real progress. […]
But I have to tell you there’s another side to this story…As we are seeing military progress, the political scene is very discouraging. We are seeing this al Maliki government, which was once branded the government of unity, coming apart. We see Shia’s leaving, Sunnis walking out. It’s not the kind of promise that we want in terms of bringing stability to this country.
Durbin explained further on NPR: “I think we’re making some measurable progress but it’s slow-going. And the fact that as our troops show some progress towards security, the government of this nation is moving in the opposite direction. This is really unsustainable with the American people.”
But, the conservative blogosphere, desperate to maintain Bush’s escalation, have spun and distorted Durbin’s claims. Rather than recognize what Durbin actually said — that the escalation lacks a political solution — conservatives conveniently noted only one of “the two important parts of this story”:
Red State: “Well, lo and behold, Democratic Senators Durbin (the #2 ranking Democrat in the Senate) and Casey, after actually visiting Iraq, now admit that the surge is, in fact, making precisely the military progress that Senator Reid declared to be impossible.”
Power Line: Some Democrats have noticed that the “surge” is producing results on the ground in Iraq
National Review: Dick Durbin says the surge is “making real progress”
Even some newspapers such as the D.C. Examiner and the New York Sun echoed the conservative spin, giving false impressions about Durbin’s assessment:
New York Sun: Durbin “is conceding that the surge of American troops has led to military progress in Iraq. [Durbin] could open the door for the majority party in Congress to pivot away from its insistence on a deadline for an American retreat.”
DC Examiner: The U.S. military surge…is working. Even as vocal a war critic as Deputy Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin, D-Ill., has now acknowledged as much, telling CNN that the U.S. military is “making real progress.”
In fact, as General Wesley Clark said at the YearlyKos conference last week, military “progress” alone in the escalation cannot forge a sustainable peace in Iraq.
“We can’t succeed in Iraq with the numbers of troops, no matter how good they are,” Clark said, “because you can’t succeed in this war just by killing people or intimidating the opposition. Dave Petraeus would be the first one to tell you that. The military’s part of the solution. It’s not the answer. The answer’s the politics.”
UPDATE: Carpetbagger has more.