British forces in southern Iraq handed over the last of their security duties to Iraq soldiers over the weekend, providing a crucial test of the Iraqi government’s ability to maintain control without foreign military help. (Reuters)
What the commentators said
There’s no question Iraq has more security now than it did a few months ago, said Trudy Rubin in The Philadelphia Inquirer. The progress is thanks to “a new military and political strategy that reverses the haphazard, incoherent U.S. Iraq policies of the last four tragic years.” Gen. David Petraeus rightly cautions against too much optimism, but “there are now possibilities for positive change that did not exist six months ago.”
“Petraeus deserves the thanks and praise of all Americans,” said National Review Online in an editorial. Time magazine has named him “man of the year” for leading the military turnaround that came with the surge of reinforcements early this year. It’s still unclear whether military success will result in political progress, but, thanks to Petraeus, victory suddenly looks possible.
That’s a bit of a stretch, said Glenn Greenwald in Salon. Everywhere the Bush administration points to as evidence of progress—from Fallujah, site of a Marine surge, to Basra, where British troops have just handed over their job to Iraqi forces—the “victory” being peddled by the war cheerleaders is characterized by ruined local economies and appalling humanitarian conditions. Clearly, “claims of The Great Surge Leading to Victory are just as deceitful as all the pre-war claims.”