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Positive Signs from Iraq

The latest poll from ABC News, the BBC and NHK of Iraqi opinion is out, and as might be expected it contains good news. The poll summary notes:

Eighty-four percent of Iraqis now rate security in their own area positively, nearly double its August 2007 level. Seventy-eight percent say their protection from crime is good, more than double its low. Three-quarters say they can go where they want safely — triple what it’s been.

The summary also notes:

Few credit the United States, still widely unpopular given the post-invasion violence, and eight in 10 favor its withdrawal on schedule by 2011 – or sooner. But at the same time a new high, 64 percent of Iraqis, now call democracy their preferred form of government.

Overall, I’d say this is excellent news, confirming that Iraq is headed in the right direction, notwithstanding some recent high-profile attacks. That doesn’t mean, however, that the momentum is irreversible. President Obama is to be commended for delaying major troop reductions until next year, following the national elections scheduled for December of this year, and for signaling that he would be willing to keep 50,000 U.S. troops (billed as advisers) into 2011. American forces still play a vital role in stabilizing Iraq as it emerges from the throes of civil war, and I would feel a lot better about Iraq’s long-term future if I knew that some U.S. troops could remain in a peacekeeping capacity (as in Bosnia or Kosovo) even beyond 2011.