From the Associated Press:
Despite the occasional bursts of violence, Iraq has reached the point where the insurgents, who once controlled whole cities, no longer have the clout to threaten the viability of the central government.Of course, it should have been apparent that things were turning around when liquor stores in Baghdad stopped getting blown up.
Beyond that, there is something in the air in Iraq this summer.
In Baghdad, parks are filled every weekend with families playing and picnicking with their children. That was unthinkable only a year ago, when the first, barely visible signs of a turnaround emerged.
Now a moment has arrived for the Iraqis to try to take those positive threads and weave them into a lasting stability.
''I open my store at 10 a.m. and close it at 7 p.m.,'' Dawood said. ``The security situation is much better, and I hope it becomes even better because I believe that all Iraqis are brothers and deserve to live in peace.''Compare this to a story from 2005
Mr Sabah has little competition largely because Islamic extremists now register their disapproval of alcohol by bombing his rivals' premises. The Rose, however, is unscathed, presumably because the bombers fear the proximity of US military hardware.and another from just eight months ago
But even as Iraqis begin returning to liquor stores, they still take care to remain inconspicuous. On a recent day outside a liquor store on Saadoun Street, two men with a case of Johnnie Walker in their car were removing the bottles from the brightly labeled box and stashing them under the seats and in other hiding places.Regardless of the legitimacy of this war's beginnings, regardless of your opinion of Bush, things are getting better in Iraq. I guess the mainstream media is finally realizing they can't cover it up until November 9th.
A construction worker and Sadr City resident, who agreed to be interviewed on the condition he not be named, told of how he was beaten last year by the Mahdi Army, the militia loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr, after his brother complained to militia members about his drinking.
Not that we're finished:
U.S. commanders say a substantial American military presence will be needed beyond 2009. But judging from the security gains that have been sustained over the first half of this year — as the Pentagon withdrew five Army brigades sent as reinforcements in 2007 — the remaining troops could be used as peacekeepers more than combatants.And it's still costing a shitload of money. What's the price for a stabilized democracy in an unstable region? How much is a military presence in the Middle East worth? More than we originally thought, but still less than the Democrats would have you believe.
Flame on, everybody. Don't disappoint me.