Robert Kagan likes what he sees in Iraq.

NBC’s Brian Williams recently reported a dramatic change in Ramadi since his previous visit. The city was safer; the airport more secure. The new American strategy of “getting out, decentralizing, going into the neighborhoods, grabbing a toehold, telling the enemy we’re here, start talking to the locals — that is having an obvious and palpable effect.” U.S. soldiers forged agreements with local religious leaders and pushed al-Qaeda back — a trend other observers have noted in some Sunni-dominated areas. The result, Williams said, is that “the war has changed.”It is no coincidence that as the mood and the reality have shifted, political currents have shifted as well. A national agreement on sharing oil revenue appears on its way to approval. The Interior Ministry has been purged of corrupt officials and of many suspected of torture and brutality. And cracks are appearing in the Shiite governing coalition — a good sign, given that the rock-solid unity was both the product and cause of growing sectarian violence.

There is still violence, as Sunni insurgents and al-Qaeda seek to prove that the surge is not working. However, they are striking at more vulnerable targets in the provinces. Violence is down in Baghdad. As for Sadr and the Mahdi Army, it is possible they may reemerge as a problem later. But trying to wait out the American and Iraqi effort may be hazardous if the public becomes less tolerant of their violence. It could not be comforting to Sadr or al-Qaeda to read in the New York Times that the United States plans to keep higher force levels in Iraq through at least the beginning of 2008. The only good news for them would be if the Bush administration in its infinite wisdom starts to talk again about drawing down forces.

Congress probably doesn’t see that there has been a change, making Roger Simon ask: “You remember – those folks who are confused about the difference between Sunnis and Shiites…”
Simon also points out how a high level Iranian defector is showing evidence about the extent of Iran’s involvement (and the Saudis are also involved: See: LINK )
Even Hillary Clinton, as Drudge points out, has now declared that Hillary Clinton says she will allow troops to stay in after she is president, although one questions if she is serious in saying they should sit back and allow ethnic cleansing (hint to Hillary: Rwanda was on your husband’s watch…better clarify that point).

And, what headline do you expect to see on a report that civilian deaths in Baghdad have gone from 265 from 1,440 and that the number of car bombs was down to 36 from 56?

U.S. says car bombs a concern despite Baghdad plan

of course. It’s from Reuters.

Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket
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