The votes are still being counted in Iraq, said National Review Online in an editorial, but it's not too early to call the provincial elections a success. Sunni and Shiite secular parties fared better than their religious counterparts, and the balloting took place in "an environment of calm that would have been unimaginable two years ago," before the surge.

That's one way to look at it, said Leila Fadel in the Kansas City Star, but turnout was the lowest in the new Iraq's short history, despite the calm. Many Iraqis chalked up voter apathy to "disenchantment with a democracy that, so far, has brought them very little."

Yes, the turnout of 51 percent was considerably lower than anticipated, said Britain's The Independent in an editorial. "Yet it would be wrong to dismiss the importance of this moment," which showed that the Iraqi security forces, in their first such test, were able to keep the election peaceful.

Things are going "perplexingly well" in Iraq, said Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal. So much so that—with next-door Iran ever closer to its nuclear bomb, and nearby Pakistan and Afghanistan getting worse—Iraq could turn out to be the pillar of the Obama administration's strategy for the region.