Just this week, the House overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for very strong sanctions on Iran and urging the administration to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guards a terrorist entity. A similar measure passed the Senate Wednesday by 76-22, declaring that it is "a critical national interest of the United States" to prevent Iran from using Shiite militias inside Iraq to subvert the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad.
A few months ago, the question was: Will the Democratic Congress force a withdrawal from Iraq? Today the question in Congress is: What can be done to achieve success in Iraq -- most specifically, by countering Iran, which is intent on seeing us fail?
This change in mood and subject is entirely the result of changes on the ground. It takes time for reality to seep into a Washington debate. But after the Petraeus-Crocker testimony, the reality of the relative success of our new counterinsurgency strategy -- and the renewed possibility of ultimate success in Iraq -- became no longer deniable.
And that reality is reflected even in the rhetoric of Hillary Clinton, the most politically sophisticated of the Democratic presidential candidates. She does vote against war funding in order to alter the president's policy (and to appease the left), but that is as a senator. When asked what she would do as president, she carefully hedges. She says that it would depend on the situation on the ground at the time. For example, whether our alliance with the Sunni tribes will have succeeded in defeating al-Qaeda in Iraq. But when asked by ABC News if she would bring U.S. troops home by January 2013, she refused to "get into hypotheticals and make pledges."
Bush's presidency -- and foreign policy -- were pronounced dead on the morning after the 2006 election. Not so. France is going to join us in a last-ditch effort to find a nonmilitary solution to the Iranian issue. And on Iraq, the relative success of the surge has won President Bush the leeway to continue the Petraeus counterinsurgency strategy to the end of his term. Congress, and realistic Democrats, are finally beginning to think seriously about making that strategy succeed and planning for what comes after.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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