With the exception of a few excitable pundits, no one seems to want to declare that the tide has turned. But there is a sense of guarded optimism that may gather some meaningful moss as it rolls toward a "stable-enough" Iraq.
And that is pretty good news. While President Bush was not willing to jump up and down, there were reports of cries of "Ding-Dong the Witch is Dead" over at the Pentagon. My sentiments exactly.
We will see if Zarqawi's Egyptian successor can garner support. It appears that many of the Zarqawi faithful are opting for a shot at a decent life, rather than a future of blowing up fellow Muslims.
The government is coming together, with a prominent Sunni and Shiite in the powerful defense and interior positions. The interior minister went so far as to claim the "beginning of the end of Al Qaeda in Iraq," saying he believes that by the end of next year, there will be no need for coalition forces in his country. Great to hear that coming from him. A steady, nascent confidence seems to be rearing its head in Iraq.
This all has to be rather unsettling for Iran. A democracy in the neighborhood — one that shares power between Sunnis and Shiites — must make Ahmadinejad a bit uncomfortable. Zarqawi had hoped to foment war between the U.S and Iran as a way to pull our focus away from his terrorist "haven." Now Iran says they'd be happy to help us in Iraq. Okay — what a relief.
The president helicoptered into the Green Zone in a powerful gesture — one that said to Prime Minister Maliki, we support you and we will not abandon you. To the people of Iraq it sent a powerful message that the United States recognizes and sits down with this man — this leader. President Bush's visit had to have meant a great deal to our troops. He was visibly moved being in the same room with them. There is perhaps, no greater morale boost than a spirited visit from the commander-in-chief.
And then there is the vote on the floor of the House of Representatives: a non-binding resolution that pledges support for the troops and no deadline for pulling them out. I could not help, but think that this felt inconsequential. Now some predict a major shake-up in Congress in '06. But it appears from the vote, that many of those who hope to get elected in the fall — voted in favor. Interesting. So what does that tell us about where they think their constituents stand on the war?
Lots to think about and keep watching in Iraq and here at home.
See you next week,
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