Feature

Shifting sands in Iraq

With the U.S. testing gains and bringing home the first wave of soldiers sent during the

What happenedThe U.S. is testing the gains made with this year’s troop buildup by bringing home the first wave of soldiers sent during the “surge.” President Bush sent 30,000 extra troops in mid-February, and over the last two months U.S. military and Iraqi civilian deaths have fallen sharply.

What the commentators saidSuddenly the U.S. media has forgotten about Iraq, said Ralph Peters in the New York Post (free registration). “Why? Because things are going annoyingly well.” All those reporters, editors, and producers who sneered at the surge and “predicted—longed for—an American defeat” no longer have anything to say now that the big news is that roadside bomb attacks have fallen by half.

The progress has left congressional Democrats flummoxed, too, said the New York Daily News in an editorial. Instead of responding to “facts on the ground,” they continue trying to “ram through” “pull-out-of-Iraq” bills, one after another. These “symbolic measures” are “increasingly counterproductive and will likely come back to haunt the party.”

Democrats are already “confronting some demoralizing arithmetic on Iraq,” said Jim VandeHei and John F. Harris in The Politico. They’ve forced 40 votes on limiting Bush’s war policy, and lost every time but once. And Bush simply vetoed that bill. But “both sides must contemplate the most dispiriting piece of Iraq arithmetic of all”—this has already been the deadliest year of the war for our soldiers.

Conservative war supporters just “see what they want to see,” said Brian Katulis in the Los Angeles Times (free registration). But civilian deaths may be down because refugees have fled by the thousands. And Iraq's “mutliple civil wars” are no closer to peaceful resolution than they were before the surge.

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