(Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe)
Markets without bombs. Hummers without guns. Ice cream after dark. Busy streets without fear."
So began Terry McCarthy's report from Iraq for ABC's World News Sunday on March 15, one of a series the network aired last week as the war in Iraq reached its sixth anniversary.
A nationwide poll of Iraqis reveals that "60 percent expect things to get better next year - almost three times as many as a year and a half ago," McCarthy continued. "Iraqis are slowly discovering they have a future. We flew south to Basra, where 94 percent say their lives are going well. Oil is plentiful here. So is money."
In another report two nights later, ABC's correspondent characterized the Iraqi capital as "a city reborn: speed, light, style - this is Baghdad today. Where car bombs have given way to car racing. Where a once-looted museum has been restored and reopened. And where young women who were forced to cover their heads can again wear the clothes that they like."
For a long time the foes of both the Iraq war and the president who launched it insisted that none of this was possible - that the war was lost, that there was no military solution to the sectarian slaughter, that the surge would only make the violence worse. Victory was not an option, the critics declared; the only option was to partition Iraq and get out. Time and again it was said that the war would forever be remembered as Bush's folly, if not indeed as the worst foreign policy mistake in US history.
Even now, with a stubbornness born of partisan hostility or political ideology, there are those who cannot bring themselves to utter the words "victory" and "Iraq" in the same sentence. But six years after the war began, it is ending in victory. As in every war, the price of that victory was higher than we would have wished. But the price of defeat would have been far higher.