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Why the Iraq debate is just beginning
W
hat happened
Eight U.S. soldiers were killed in two attacks in Iraq on Monday in the deadliest day for American forces in two months. (The New York Times, free registration)

What the commentators said
“Has anyone noticed that Iraq, supposedly transformed into an oasis of peace and tranquility by George W. Bush's troop surge, is growing less peaceful and tranquil by the day?” said Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post (free registration). As Americans remained “riveted” to the presidential campaign and what the candidates think about Iraq, there has been “little debate” about what is actually going on there. That should change now that we’ve “seen a recrudescence of the kind of horrifying, spectacular violence that the Decider's surge was supposed to have ended.”

If you think terrorists in Iraq are feeling good now, said Investor’s Business Daily in an editorial, wait to see how giddy they get if Americans elect a president promising to pull out of Iraq. “Think about it a moment. If you're a leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, which given the short life expectancy isn't a good career move these days,” would you rather square off against Barack Obama, whose “pledge is to run and hide,” or John McCain, who “supported the surge that is kicking al-Qaida's butt and says we should stay until we win”?

“It is understandably hard for Democrats and other administration critics to believe that a war fought so badly at first could take a turn for the better,” said Michael O’Hanlon in USA Today. But “those who say Iraq will be better off once we leave underestimate the typical duration of most nation-building efforts (a decade or more) as well as the fragility of Iraq's new institutions and the freshness of sectarian wounds that have only begun to heal.”

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