As the Iraq War enters its fourth year, all Americans who care about their country must take a hard look at the situation. The key question is: Are we making progress in Iraq? Is all the blood and treasure the USA has spent getting us closer to a country which would fight terrorism and grant freedom to its citizens?

The answer to that question is: I don't know. After three years of blood, sweat and tears, I cannot report to you anything definite about Iraq's future.

The Bush administration is adamant in saying things are improving there and the USA will achieve victory. War opponents, including some high-ranking military officers disagree, saying the chaos is getting worse.

Much of the debate centers on mistakes in the past, but those mistakes are not important now. What is vitally important is that the coalition succeed in giving the Iraqis a chance to build a decent country. That being said, there's a timeline. War is a performance business and right now, a Gallup poll says only 40 percent of Americans believe we will win in Iraq.

That pessimistic view can change fast if successes become apparent. But it's hard to believe the Bush administration can carry on a stalemate for another year. There is an urgency about the Iraq situation.

"Talking Points" believes the effort of America and its coalition partners in Iraq is a noble effort. We are the good guys. But are we the smart guys? Will the Iraqis respond to the challenge and defend themselves in the foreseeable future? Again, I don't know.

What I do know is that if the effort fails in Iraq, Iran will dominate that country. And it will turn into an anti-American state that will enable worldwide terrorism, just as Iran is doing within its borders right now.

Another terrorist-friendly country puts America and the world in even more danger. We will have traded the despicable Saddam for the despicable mullahs.

So the Bush administration is correct when it says Iraq is a national security issue, but the patience of the American people is not unlimited. Progress must be visible to sustain the Iraq effort much longer.

That is the truth about Iraq as we enter the fourth year of the war. Victory — still possible, but not yet assured.

And that's "The Memo."

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

[This item is about] perhaps the most vile and irresponsible editorial I have ever seen in an American newspaper. The Dayton Daily News personally attacked the governor of Ohio, the attorney general of that state and myself for calling for the ouster of Judge John Connor.

The editor of the Dayton Daily News, Jeff Bruce, apparently believes Connor should not be sanctioned for giving probation to a child rapist and is smearing anyone who disagrees with that. Mr. Bruce can be reached at jbruce@coxohio.com. The e-mail address will also be posted on on billoreilly.com. And we'd like you to give him a little toot and let him know how you feel.

But the larger problem is the Cox newspaper company, which owns The Daily Dayton Daily News, as well as the ultra-liberal Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The CEO of Cox, Jay Smith, routinely allows his newspapers to use smear tactics against perceived opponents. Smith is simply too cowardly to address the situation.

The Dayton Daily News now goes on our "don't buy, don't advertise list," joining the Atlanta paper. Like the good folks in Georgia, the good folks in southern Ohio deserve much better than this.

Ridiculous doesn't even begin to cover it.

—You can catch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Most Ridiculous Item" weeknights at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on the FOX News Channel. Send your comments to: oreilly@foxnews.com

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