Usually, I am critical of any information coming from the Editorial page of the Cincinnati Enquirer, as it tilts conservative. However, the basis of the editorial column comes from a new source... the Brookings Institute. (Link here)
Brookings has been historically critical of the war. In fact, the two authors, Kenneth Pollack and Michael O'Hanlon, have been outspoken critics of the war. They say, however, they found something completely different on their last trip:
Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.
They continue to describe successes in training Iraqi forces, reconstruction efforts, and removal of corruption in the army; though they are quick to point out more work needs to be done, including providing jobs, centralizing the government, and reducing civilian casualties.
So now we have an interesting dilemma for the anti-war folks, which includes me: the surge worked (depsite our concerns) and things are getting better.
I'm not going to spin it; I'm glad for the improving situation. I don't think anyone wanted to leave Iraq a mess, but, at the time, it felt almost inevitable that they only way out at this point was to let it go into civil war (leading to outsider invasions due to the power vacuum, potentially culminating in a new war on a regional scale). The sense of doom is receding. I'm glad the people of Ramadi and even some of the rural provinces can now feel safe in their neighborhoods, and I'm glad we're seeing ethnic integration. Thank jeebus... ahem, I mean, Muhammed.
Is this a success for President Shrub? In a way, yes... though I hate to admit it. When he first came to office, I often said that he had some of the best appointments ever. He surrounded himself with brilliant people (though corrupt, money hungry, and entrenched in the military-industrial complex). I think this, really, seems to be a success for General Petraeus. It seems Bush has put the proper person in place to deal with the mess that we created.
And, even if this does work out for the best, our reasons for going in and the last five years of failure, loss, and pain remain inexcusable. Your right, Saddam was a bad bad bad man... but the doctrine of prophylactic warfare should not be the corner stone of our foreign policy.
It should be, as always, a last resort.