Returning from a trip to Iraq, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Bob Corker (R-TN) “gave an upbeat report on progress in Iraq” to reporters this morning, saying they saw “clear success, province by province“:
Alexander said a strategy devised by Petraeus to work with local leaders and win them over to the U.S. cause has shown “clear success, province by province.”
“They are fed up with random murders of their children” by al-Qaida terrorists, he said.
“There are probably seven provinces where enough progress has been made to involve Iraqis in their own security,” claimed Alexander during the call with reporters.
Unmentioned in press accounts of Alexander and Corker’s trip, however, is the fact that they only spent half a day on the ground in Iraq.
Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), who organized the trip (which also included Sen. David Vitter), told reporters that only 10-14 hours out of their four-day trip was spent in Iraq. Voinovich’s communications director, Chris Paulitz, confirmed the duration of the delegation’s trip to ThinkProgress.
Despite the superficial, in and out nature of their trip, Corker and Alexander are pronouncing “significant progress” on the ground in Iraq. As former Washington Post Baghdad correspondent Jonathan Finer wrote this weekend, “there is good reason to be skeptical of such snapshot accounts“:
It goes without saying that everyone can, and in this country should, have an opinion about the war, no matter how much time the person has spent in Iraq, if any. But having left a year ago, I’ve stopped pretending to those who ask that I have a keen sense of what it’s like on the ground today. Similarly, those who pass quickly through the war zone should stop ascribing their epiphanies to what are largely ceremonial visits.
While politicians who spend a few hours in the “dog-and-pony show are claiming “significant progress,” soldiers who have been on the ground for 15 months are seeing a very different picture: “mounting civil, political and social unrest.”