What happened
Anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr told his Shiite militia that he was extending a cease-fire, improving the chances that Iraq will continue a recovery from sectarian violence that coincided with the truce and last year’s surge of American troops. (AP in The New York Times)

What the commentators said
“There is simply no denying the remarkable improvements in Iraq since the surge began a year ago,” said Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post (free registration). “Unless you’re a Democrat.” The party’s candidates “unanimously oppose the surge,” and its congressional leaders stubbornly declare “the war already lost” despite mounting evidence that we’re making progress.

Sure there has been some “good news,” said Michael Kinsley in the Los Angeles Times (free registration). But “we needn’t quarrel” with that fact “to say that, at the very least, the surge has not worked yet.” The U.S. hasn’t been able to reduce its troop levels significantly since President Bush sent over 30,000 extra soldiers. The best we can hope for is that after the surge we’ll be right where we were when it started, and that’s not much of a success.

“Any good news from Iraq is precious,” said the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer in an editorial, and it’s a relief to hear that the surge is “is improving life for ordinary citizens” in Iraq. And the break from the “murderous chaos” stirred up by Sadr’s fighters has certainly helped. But civilians and American soldiers are still dying from rocket and homemade-bomb attacks, and the improvements could “prove fragile indeed” without political reconciliation, which is “the only real hope to bring the war to an end.”