One change for the better we are seeing - halting as it may be - is the recognition among major left-wing media outlets that Iraq's political progress is a complete game-changer, to the point where folks now agree on de facto victory in the conflict.
This morning's Los Angeles Times offers a noteworthy lead editorial on victory in Iraq, although the editors see increasing political accomodation as the signal to roll-up the deployment and bring the troops home:
It has taken nine bloody and difficult months, but the deployment of 30,000 additional U.S. troops appears at last to have brought not just a lull in the sectarian fighting in Iraq, but the first tangible steps toward genuine political reconciliation.There should be no irony in Iraq's political progress. It's only ironic to those who see American success as a shortcut to longstanding demands for a precipitous withdrawal.
Last week, the parliament passed a crucial package of legislation that reflects real compromise among the many factions on three of the thorniest issues that have bedeviled Iraq....
Ironically, all this good news might make it harder to get American military personnel out of the country. The better things go in Iraq, the less likely it is that U.S. generals (or politicians) will want to risk jeopardizing their hard-won gains by drawing down. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has agreed to a request by Gen. David H. Petraeus to return to the pre-surge level of about 130,000 troops by August, and then allow a "strategic pause" to evaluate whether more can come home.
Battlefield commanders know best how many troops are needed to keep the country stable, but as a political and economic matter, U.S. forces must leave Iraq eventually -- sooner, if voters choose a Democratic president, much later if the president-elect is Republican John McCain. Either way, the United States needs a logical, orderly exit strategy that minimizes the risk that civil war will resume when our troops leave.
If the momentum of Iraq's political surge is sustained, it's conceivable that the United States, having torn the country apart in an ill-conceived invasion and a disastrous occupation, could help glue the biggest pieces together on its way out the door. But building a decent government will probably prove even harder than curbing the violence. And even under the rosiest scenario, it will be our moral duty to provide large-scale political, military and humanitarian aid, including support for the refugees who are beginning to trickle back home, for many years to come.
Recall that the antiwar hordes have seized on McCain's remark that the U.S. will be in Iraq for 100 years.
A long time, sure, but is this so unreasonable? We've been in Germany and Japan for nearly 65 years - and this is after we imposed unconditional surrender on the German and the Japanese people, dropping nuclear weapons on the latter to end a war that some historians say Japan was prepared to wage down to the last man, woman, and child.
As the Times notes, we have a moral responsibility to continue with a program of military, economic, and humanitarian support in Iraq. It's irresponsible to perpetuate unhinged left-wing political demands for an "orderly exit," just at the time when the U.S. and Iraq are moving into the phase of a arger, enduring military-strategic partnership for the Middle East.
See also Memeorandum; and Captain's Quarters.