Fortunately the Times of London is on the job. It reports:
There has been striking success in the past few months in the attempt to improve security, defeat al-Qaeda sympathisers and create the political conditions in which a settlement between the Shia and the Sunni communities can be reached. This has not been an accident but the consequence of a strategy overseen by General David Petraeus in the past several months. While summarised by the single word “surge” his efforts have not just been about putting more troops on the ground but also employing them in a more sophisticated manner. This drive has effectively broken whatever alliances might have been struck in the past by terrorist factions and aggrieved Sunnis. Cities such as Fallujah, once notorious centres of slaughter, have been transformed in a remarkable time.
Indeed, on every relevant measure, the shape of the Petraeus curve is profoundly encouraging.[emphasis mine]
But how has this wonderful news been received in the US?
The current achievements, and they are achievements, are being treated as almost an embarrassment in certain quarters. The entire context of the contest for the Democratic nomination for president has been based on the conclusion that Iraq is an absolute disaster and the first task of the next president is to extricate the United States at maximum speed.Read the whole thing here.
Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have to appreciate that Iraq is no longer, as they thought, an exercise in damage limitation but one of making the most of an opportunity. The instinct of too many people is that if Iraq is going badly we should get out because it is going badly and if it is getting better we should get out because it is getting better. This is a catastrophic miscalculation. Iraq is getting better. That is good, not bad, news.
This morning on MSNBC the Democrats were trying out their new talking points. They are grudgingly admitting that there has been improvement in Iraq, but argue that the effort has been too costly and opine that the gains have not been due to anything the Bush administration has done. As the gang on "Morning Joe" put it, "Bush isn't winning this war; al Qaeda is losing it." Isn't that the same line of argument they used when the Soviet empire collapsed? Democrats gave all the credit to Gorby, not the Gipper. They are already treating Iraq as old news, and shifting their attention to Iran. What I fear is that Democrats are so invested in the idea that Iraq was a catastrophe that the next administration will withdraw from the area and squander the magnificent opportunity to advance human freedom the current administration and our heroes in uniform have won.
Don Surber observes: Victory in Iraq is a very big problem for the party of defeat. The cheese-eating surrender monkey has replaced the jackass as the [Democrat] party’s symbol.UPDATE:
Victor Davis Hanson predicts that as the perception of victory in Iraq sinks in there will be a radical revision in American politics:
[T]here will be fundamental political adjustments from the trivial of pundits repositioning themselves by simple silence about the war, or suggestions they were never really anti-war, or that the improvements came only because of their principled criticism — to the fundamental of having the entire leadership of the Democratic either ignore Iraq, claim the victory was not worth the commensurate cost of the last four plus years, or take proprietorship over Gen. Petraeus's success — anything other than demanding a timetable for complete withdrawal with an admission of de facto defeat in the manner of the now infamous NY Times editorial.Read it here.
Of course it's too soon to tell, but the reversal of fortunes, as Hanson notes, Petraeus' success is as dramatic as that engineered by Grant in the Civil War and Ridgeway in Korea. Both earlier examples led to extreme shifts in public opinion, and so may this one. We can hope.