WASHINGTON -- The potentates on the Potomac have been so busy ranting about an imminent financial "catastrophe," dissecting Sarah Palin's debate debut and prognosticating John McCain's political demise that other news -- particularly about the war being waged against radical Islam -- has been hard to find. Here are some facts about the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan that haven't captured the attention of our so-called mainstream media:
First, and most importantly, the campaign in Mesopotamia is all but won. This week, the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines arrived in Anbar province -- once the bloodiest place on the planet -- to assume the mission of honing the skills of Iraqi forces, who are now responsible for security in the largest of Iraq's 18 provinces. Iraqis -- instead of Americans -- now are conducting most combat operations against al-Qaida remnants and Shiite militias throughout the country.
Second, despite predictions that "it couldn't be done," the al-Maliki government has announced plans for provincial elections before year's end. The Iraqis also are completing an oil-revenue-sharing plan and quietly are concluding a status of forces agreement with the U.S. on the disposition of American troops. Though Iranian interference in Iraq's internal affairs continues, U.S. and Iraqi special operations forces quietly have been rolling up terror networks set up by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Gen. Ray Odierno, the new U.S. commander in Iraq, demurs from describing the current situation a "victory" because bloodshed still occurs. This week, Sunni suicide bombers in Salahuddin province and Baghdad killed 28 and wounded more than 30 Shiite worshipers celebrating Eid al-Fitr -- the end of their Ramadan fast. Rather than pushing the country toward "civil war," events such as these increasingly have alienated insurgent groups from the civilian population. Despite these attacks, violence is at a four-year low. Though widely unreported, U.S. military and diplomatic officials express quiet confidence that Iraq is well on its way to becoming our closest ally in a part of the world where we need reliable friends.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.