Michael Barone

For most of the last year, the dominant narrative in most media, and for most voters, has been that we are getting nowhere in Iraq and that the Democrats, after their victory in last November's elections, are going to get out of Iraq.

But events are not playing out that way. Last week, the Senate failed to pass an amendment that would have made it more difficult to rotate troops into Iraq -- and passed, by a 72-to-25 margin, a resolution denouncing the moveon.org ad that attacked "General Betray Us" for "cooking the books."

Polls show that the public approves of Petraeus' performance and endorses his recommendations for going forward with the surge -- the first margin of approval for the administration's course of action in a long time.

Petraeus argued convincingly that we are making real progress in Iraq, that the downward spiral of violence has been turned around and that the battle against al-Qaida in Iraq is meeting with success. George W. Bush, in a Roosevelt Room interview with columnists, made it plain that he is determined to provide Petraeus with the troops he needs, and the Democratic Congress has made it plain that it will not stop him.

To be sure, Petraeus has recommended reducing forces, starting in December, and going back to pre-surge levels next summer. But this is a far different thing from what the Democrats had in mind six months ago. And the results on the ground seem to be far different from what they expected.

True, some Democrats persist in saying that the aggressive surge strategy has made no difference, and large numbers of voters are not convinced that it has. But it is now possible that the added troops will, in Bush's phrase, "return on success." That's a sharp change from what has been the dominant narrative.

Another event that undermines that narrative took place on Sept. 6, but only began to be appreciated in Washington last week. That was the Israeli air attack on Syria. Israeli officials have said nothing in public about this (although opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu said he supported the action), and Bush flatly refused to comment in his press conference. But on Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens speculated that "the least unlikely possibility" was that the target was a North Korean nuclear installation.

North Korean technicians were known to be in Syria, and the North Korean government protested the attack. By Friday, The Washington Post reported that "Israel's decision to attack Syria on Sept. 6, bombing a suspected nuclear site set up in apparent collaboration with North Korea, came after Israel shared intelligence with President Bush this summer indicating that North Korean nuclear personnel were in Syria, said U.S. government sources."

Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM