Christopher Hitchens reminds us where things stand in Iraq:
I think we should be glad that the luridly sadistic and aggressive Saddam Hussein regime is no longer in power to be the beneficiary of the rise in oil prices and thus able to share its wealth with the terrorists, crooks, and demagogues on its secret payroll. I think we should also be glad that its private ownership of Iraq’s armed forces, and its control over a party monopoly called the Baath, has been irrecoverably smashed. Iraq’s resources are no longer at the disposal of an aggressive, parasitic oligarchy. Its retrained and re-equipped army is being deployed, not in wars of invasion against its neighbors and genocide against its inhabitants, but in cleanup campaigns against al-Qaida and the Mahdi Army. An improvement. A distinct improvement.
It is in no spirit of revenge that I remind you that, as little as a year ago, the whole of smart liberal opinion believed that the dissolution of Baathism and militarism had been a mistake, that Iraq itself was a bottomless pit of wasted dollars and pointless casualties, and that the only option was to withdraw as fast as possible and let the inevitable civil war burn itself out. To the left of that liberal consensus, people of the caliber and quality of Michael Moore were describing the nihilist “insurgents” as the moral equivalent of the Minutemen, and to the right of the same consensus, people like Pat Buchanan were hinting that we had been cheated into the whole enterprise by a certain minority whose collective name began with the letter J.
(Not just Pat Buchanan, but let’s leave that for another day.) Hitchens concludes:
So, yes, major combat operations appear to be over, and to that extent one can belatedly say, “Mission accomplished.” If there is any Iraqi nostalgia for the old party and the old army, it is remarkably well-concealed. Iraq no longer plays deceptive games with weapons of mass destruction or plays host to international terrorist groups. It is no longer subject to sanctions that punish its people and enrich its rulers. Its religious and ethnic minorities—together a majority—are no longer treated like disposable trash. Its most bitter internal argument is about the timing of the next provincial and national elections. Surely it is those who opposed every step of this emancipation, rather than those who advocated it, who should be asked to explain and justify themselves.
But there has been and is not likely to be any self-evaluation, any taking of stock by those who opposed the surge. The media, the entire Democratic contingent in Congress, and the Democratic nominee aren’t in the confessional mode these days. Indeed, that latter signaled to the surge opponents: don’t admit, don’t apologize and don’t revisit. We were right all along, he bizarrely counsels his followers. The original decision to go to war has been picked over, investigated, and evaluated. But no such soul-searching is in the cards with regard to the surge. The surge opponents are just “moving on.”
John McCain has tried to make his opponent’s opposition to the surge a test of his fitness and judgment as commander-in-chief. He may or may not be successful in that regard. Being right isn’t always rewarded at the polls. Just as the proponents of such losing tactics as the Nuclear Freeze were discredited by history, we may have to wait years to reach a final verdict on the surge opponents. In the meantime, we have the opportunity for a stable and independent Iraq and a big leg up in the war on terror.