A funny thing happens when open-minded Democrats visit Iraq and take a good look at what’s happening on the ground. They see continued signs of success–and they come home willing to spread the news. Democrat Rep. Joe Donnelly of Indiana follows in the footsteps of Washington Democrat Rep. Brian Baird (hat tip – Ed Morrissey):
U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly returned from a second trip to Iraq in five months encouraged that the mission there is going better and that by 2009 the U.S. military’s role could be primarily as trainers and advisers.
“I feel we’ve made progress, and the other part is I feel we can see an end game in sight,” Donnelly, D-Ind., told reporters on a conference call Tuesday from Washington. “It isn’t we just keep plugging away in the hopes something will turn out right. Gen. (David) Petraeus is working a plan and we seem to be heading toward a place where the Iraqis can be self-sustaining and we’ll have a smaller presence in the background.”
Donnelly’s findings were in stark contrast to his visit to Iraq last July, when he said the only positive thing that happened in that country since the beginning of the war in March 2003 was the ouster of Saddam Hussein.
Donnelly met with members of Company F of the 151st Infantry, an Indiana National Guard unit from South Bend, who told him that in the past 60 days life in Iraq has gotten safer.
“Things are better than they were in their first few months of deployment,” Donnelly said. Donnelly, who traveled to Iraq with Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., Rep. Phil English, R-Pa., and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the congressional delegation heard the same thing from Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq.
“In his view, things have improved almost across the board,” Donnelly said. “There’s a confidence and a feeling the progress is being made and there is an end in sight to our significant military presence.”
What an astonishing change of heart. Listen to Donnelly on the House floor in July opposing the surge (“I fear this surge will not lead to an Iraq that will be stable over the long term, but will instead put more than 21,500 American troops into harm’s way”):