1) the fundamental weakness of the insurgency, a fact that has not been recognized by the outside world because of the "police blotter" character of the news coverage:
Collect relatively isolated events in a chronological list and presto: the impression of uninterrupted, wide-spread violence destroying Iraq. But that was a false impression. Every day coalition forces were moving thousands of 18-wheelers from Kuwait and Turkey into Iraq, and if the “insurgents” were lucky they blew up one. However, flash the flames of that one diesel rig on CNN and “oh my God, America can’t stop these guys” is the impression left in Boston, Boise, and Beijing.
Saddam’s buddies and Zarqawi’s klan were actually weak enemies –"brittle” is the word I used to describe them at a senior planning meeting. Their local power was based on intimidation–killing by car bomb, murdering in the street. Their strategic power was based solely on selling the false impression of nation-wide instability– selling post-Saddam Iraq as a dysfunctional failed-state rather than an emerging
2) The ability of astute political figures, [his example is Hillary Clinton] to look beyond the journalistic facade and to see the real trends obscured by the coverage:
The AP reports [read it here] Sen. Hillary Clinton said that much of Iraq was “functioning quite well” and that the rash of suicide attacks was a sign that the insurgency was failing.
Clinton, a New York Democrat, said insurgents intent on destabilizing the country had failed to disrupt Iraq’s landmark Jan. 30 elections.
“The concerted effort to disrupt the elections was an abject failure. Not one polling place was shut down or overrun....”
Austin Bay is onto something here. In the modern media age military struggles have become more than anything else political competitions viewed through the distorting lens of the MSM. When a politician as savvy as Hillary Clinton begins to assert the success of Bush's Iraq adventure, the war is essentially won. That doesn't mean that fighting will end, just that the outcome has been decided. The insurgents have been unable to intimidate the Iraqi people and their efforts to demoralize America have failed.