The Times Online has a great editorial today that argues that the improvements on the ground in Iraq are not accidental but are the direct result of the strategy implemented by General Patraeus. The Times writes that the good news should be recognized and celebrated, not ignored as the majority of the mainstream media are doing:
Indeed, on every relevant measure, the shape of the Petraeus curve is profoundly encouraging. It is not only the number of coalition deaths and injuries that has fallen sharply (October was the best month for 18 months and the second-best in almost four years), but the number of fatalities among Iraqi civilians has also tumbled similarly. This process started outside Baghdad but now even the capital itself has a sense of being much less violent and more viable. As we report today, something akin to a normal nightlife is beginning to re-emerge in the city. As the pace of reconstruction quickens, the prospects for economic recovery will be enhanced yet further. With oil at record high prices, Iraq should be an extremely prosperous nation and in a position to start planning for its future with confidence.
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. Democrats who voted for the war have either repudiated their past support completely (John Edwards) or engaged in a convoluted partial retraction (Hillary Clinton). Congressional Democrats have spent most of this year trying (and failing) to impose a timetable for an outright exit. In Britain, in a somewhat more subtle fashion admittedly, Gordon Brown assumed on becoming the Prime Minister that he should send signals to the voters that Iraq had been "Blair's War", not one to which he or Britain were totally committed.
All of these attitudes have become outdated. There are many valid complaints about the manner in which the Bush Administration and Donald Rumsfeld, in particular, managed Iraq after the 2003 military victory. But not to recognise that matters have improved vastly in the year since Mr Rumsfeld's resignation from the Pentagon was announced and General Petraeus was liberated would be ridiculous. 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.
James Clyburn admitted that good news in Iraq would be bad news for the Democrats, which is why the Dems now refuse to discuss all the advancements and achievements in Iraq of the past few months. It's not just embarrassing because they were so wrong, but it's devastating for them politically because they were going to use the war in Iraq as a club with which to beat the Republicans over the head in the race for the White House in 2008. Too bad for them, this is no longer an issue they can use without making themselves look completely incompetent when it comes to national defense, and the mainstream media certainly aren't going to call them on their miscalculation.