The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The good is that things in Iraq are going much better than is generally being reported here in the States (surprise, surprise). Here's a couple snippets to give you the gist of their position:
Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.
And a bit later in the article:
Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.
This of course as congressional Democrats are salivating at the prospect of forcing a cut-n-run.
The bad is that progress on the Iraqi political front remains maddeningly slow and elusive. A quote:
In the end, the situation in Iraq remains grave. In particular, we still face huge hurdles on the political front. Iraqi politicians of all stripes continue to dawdle and maneuver for position against one another when major steps towards reconciliation — or at least accommodation — are needed. This cannot continue indefinitely. Otherwise, once we begin to downsize, important communities may not feel committed to the status quo, and Iraqi security forces may splinter along ethnic and religious lines.
Or in other words, the political situation remains fluid and fragile. Again, this illustrates that a precipitous withdrawal would be about the very worst course of action we could take. We pull out before the Iraqi leadership has properly sorted itself out, everything crumbles. Not good.
The ugly in all this is here in America, where the majority of our media still persist in seeing nothing but chaos and ruin in Iraq and our own none-too-reliable political leadership continues to demonstrate that they're much more concerned with getting themselves re-elected or scoring political points than they are with prosecuting this effort to a successful conclusion.
The reality-impaired community will of course spin any positive developments as ephemeral at best and part of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy at worst. But the bottom line is that the situation is improving and the only thing required for victory is patience on our part.
Update: Interesting. Pollack was on CNN with Wolf Blitzer yesterday afternoon. I didn't get to see the entire segment, but Pollack said that the title of the piece I reference above was not his or O'Hanlon's, but rather came from the Times' editorial staff. I wonder if the Times was trying to use the somewhat-positive tone of the piece to refute some of their cheerleader-of-defeat reputation in the conservative press.