Thomas Sowell

In the last six months, O'Hanlon and Pollack report, "Iraqis have begun to turn on the extremists."

In Ramadi, where American Marines "were fighting for every yard" of territory just a few months ago, "last week we strolled down the streets without body armor."

Victory is not inevitable, any more than victory was inevitable when American and British troops landed at Normandy in 1945. General Eisenhower even kept in his pocket a written statement taking full responsibility in the event of failure.

But victory is not even defined the same way in Iraq as it was in World War II. American troops do not need to stay in Iraq until the last vestige of terrorism has been wiped out.

The point when it is safe to begin pulling out is the point when the Iraqi military and police forces are strong enough to continue the fight against the terrorists on their own.

That point depends on how much and how long the current progress continues, not on how much the Democrats or their media allies need an American defeat before the 2008 election.

O'Hanlon and Pollack warn that "the situation in Iraq remains grave" but conclude that "there is enough good happening in Iraq that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008."

But 2008 may have an entirely different significance for politicians than for these Brookings scholars.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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