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Iraq news too good to report

Posted by Richard on June 3, 2008

American casualties in Iraq fell to a five-year low in May. Prime Minister al Maliki has united large portions of the population across all ethnic groups. The Iraqi army successfully pulled off al Maliki's bold plan to reclaim Basra from the Mahdi Army. And both al Qaeda and the Iranian-backed Shiite militias are on the run everywhere.

But there aren't many news stories about Iraq these days, and you'd be hard-pressed to find much information about these developments in the mainstream media. When the subject of the surge's success does come up, those invested in our defeat will say just about anything to explain it away. Case in point: Nancy Pelosi, in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, insisted that the positive developments in Iraq aren't due to the surge, but to Iran's "goodwill."

Bless their hearts, the editors of The Washington Post acknowledged the good news in a surprising (to me, at least) editorial Sunday (emphasis added):

THERE'S BEEN a relative lull in news coverage and debate about Iraq in recent weeks — which is odd, because May could turn out to have been one of the most important months of the war. [It's not odd to those of us who suspect there's an agenda behind the relentless coverage of bad news and ignoring of good.] While Washington's attention has been fixed elsewhere, military analysts have watched with astonishment as the Iraqi government and army have gained control for the first time of the port city of Basra and the sprawling Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, routing the Shiite militias that have ruled them for years and sending key militants scurrying to Iran. At the same time, Iraqi and U.S. forces have pushed forward with a long-promised offensive in Mosul, the last urban refuge of al-Qaeda. So many of its leaders have now been captured or killed that U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, renowned for his cautious assessments, said that the terrorists have "never been closer to defeat than they are now."

Iraq passed a turning point last fall when the U.S. counterinsurgency campaign launched in early 2007 produced a dramatic drop in violence and quelled the incipient sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites. Now, another tipping point may be near, one that sees the Iraqi government and army restoring order in almost all of the country, dispersing both rival militias and the Iranian-trained "special groups" that have used them as cover to wage war against Americans. It is — of course — too early to celebrate; though now in disarray, the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr could still regroup, and Iran will almost certainly seek to stir up new violence before the U.S. and Iraqi elections this fall. Still, the rapidly improving conditions should allow U.S. commanders to make some welcome adjustments — and it ought to mandate an already-overdue rethinking by the "this-war-is-lost" caucus in Washington, including Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

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