Cliff May

Pity poor Harry Reid. Back in April, the Senate Democratic leader proclaimed the war in Iraq "lost." Two months before Gen. David Petraeus had in place the reinforcements he needed to implement his bold, new strategy, which included a "surge" of operations against al Qaeda forces in Iraq, Reid also said: "The surge is not accomplishing anything."

Since then, it has become increasingly obvious that Reid was wrong, that the "surge" has been accomplishing nothing less than the defeat of al Qaeda in the very heart of the Arab world. Petraeus' troops appear to be making progress against Iranian-backed militias as well. As a result, the threat of an Iraqi civil war has diminished and there is no "resistance" movement to speak of -- not of Saddam Hussein loyalists and certainly not of patriotic Iraqi nationalists.

The elite media are, belatedly, acknowledging this reality: "By every metric used to measure the war -- total attacks, U.S. casualties, Iraqi casualties, suicide bombings, roadside bombs -- there has been an enormous improvement," reports The Washington Post. The Los Angeles Times adds that "war-weary Sunnis and Shiites are joining hands at the local level to protect their communities from militants on both sides." According to the Pew Research Center: "For the first time in a long time, nearly half of Americans express positive opinions about the situation in Iraq."

Maybe Reid thinks this is all baloney. But what if he does recognize that progress is being made? What are he and others like him to do? It is not only occupants of the Oval Office who don't relish saying: "I was wrong."

Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., hasn't said that. He believes the war was "one of the most egregious mistakes in the history of this country." But he adds that to abandon Iraq too soon would be an equally serious error.

"The facts on the ground are the situation is improving in Iraq," Baird recently said on the House floor. "Courageous Americans have given their lives and the time away from their families to make that happen. ... Progress is being made. Do not let anyone today say it is not. Violence is down. Political leaders are reaching out across the aisle. Shias are meeting with Sunnis. Sunnis are meeting with Shias. They need more time to succeed, and an insecure situation will undermine the progress, not further it."


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.