The GAO attributes them to: "(1) the increase in U.S. combat forces, (2) the creation of nongovernmental security forces such as Sons of Iraq and (3) the Mahdi Army's declaration of a ceasefire."
But would Nos. 2 and 3 have happened had the United States not done No. 1?
Surely, the Sunni insurgents who made the political decision to stop fighting the United States and start defending their own communities were informed by the surge, as, no doubt, was the Mahdi Army.
And that is not the only political progress the surge inspired. The Iraqi government has also enacted laws liberalizing the de-Baathification measures taken earlier in the war, providing amnesty to some insurgents and setting a deadline for provincial elections.
It is true that other major reforms have not been accomplished. These include enacting laws setting the actual procedures for provincial elections, distributing Iraq's vast oil resources, disarming militias and amending Iraq's constitution to facilitate sustainable reconciliation between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds.
So, the question now: Which strategic decision by our own politicians is more likely to bring victory? Should we continue the strategy that delivered the security and political progress of the past year? Or should we abandon it and begin withdrawing from the country?
In truth, the most important sign of progress in Iraq was not included in the GAO report: Our casualties have declined.
Using a database of U.S. casualties constructed by Cybercast News Service from Defense Department information, my Cybercast News Service colleague Kevin Mooney has reported that in the first five months of 2008, the United States suffered 14 casualties in Anbar Province, down 89 percent from the 124 suffered in the first five months of last year. U.S. casualties in the province are now the lowest since 2003.
Comparing May 2007 to May 2008, IED-caused casualties across all of Iraq also declined 89 percent (from 84 to 9).
President Bush's decision send more troops and Gen. David Petraeus plan for using them, resulted in more security in Iraq, more political progress and fewer American dead. The Battle of the Surge was a win.
Asymmetrical Politics: Republicans Act Like an Unruly Mob, Democrats Like a Regimented Army | Michael Barone