Gen. David Petraeus was accused of being a blind optimist, and even an idiot, when he said that a surge of five brigades and a new strategy could bring the crippling sectarian civil war in Iraq under control. Gen. Petraeus insists that he is not an optimist, and I am inclined to agree.
I, on the other hand, make no denials when I am called an optimist. Nonetheless, I have good reason to be so. The Iraq situation gets better with each month, and even elements of the US Army that dubbed Petraeus an optimist are starting to see that what he's doing is not just a temporary miracle-- it may well bring sustained peace.
In a release by Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, Anbar province, once Iraq's most vicious militia stronghold, is slotted for full handover to Iraqi security forces by March-- a huge victory for Petraeus's strategy, and an undeniable sign that the former Sunni militias have thrown their support to the Iraqi government.
But that's not the really optimistic part-- Odierno also went so far as to say that all 18 of Iraq's provinces would probably be handed over by the end of the year-- before the next president gets into power. Even Obama's aggressive withdrawal timetable would have only so much impact on the extended security operations in Iraq through 2009 and 2010.
Should this timetable be fulfilled, the Iraq policies of both the Republican and Democratic nominees will have a greatly diminished importance. But more importantly, it will mean a safer Iraq for its citizens and security, as well as the US troops that are bound to remain for years to come, however many that may be.