Iraqi conflict

It's too early to declare Iraq a total success, or even to pretend American troops have left the country entirely.

The withdrawal, on schedule, of American combat troops from the country's urban centers by midnight June 30, though celebrated by most Iraqis as a restoration of their sovereignty, was marred by at least one terror bombing in a marketplace in the northern city of Kirkuk.

Should Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's fledgling defense forces prove unable to maintain order, or -- just as bad -- should they seize the opportunity to settle old grudges at gunpoint, plunging the country once more into civil war, it could still turn out to be "one step forward, two steps back."

But none of this should obscure the essential point.

President George W. Bush, reviled by our own "peace at any price" leftists, decided what Iraq needed was a bigger "surge" of American troops to restore order in the face of what amounted to a wholesale invasion of al-Qaida terrorists backed by the mullahs of neighboring Iran.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, doing something American political leaders rarely do while U.S. combat forces are still risking their lives overseas, declared the war in Iraq "lost." Democrats (including young freshman Sen. Barack Obama) ridiculed the surge and Mr. Bush's timetable, which called for the partial withdrawal of American forces from their highly visible positions as urban order-keepers, by June 30.

But whose timetable was it the Obama administration -- wisely, mind you -- ended up following this week? The Bush timetable.

"Change"? Presumably, once in power, Mr. Obama's team reviewed the real situation and decided that "wouldn't be prudent."

What would Iraq look like today if cut-and-run Democrats had been in a position to order all the troops to "Run! Run as fast as you can!" a year or two ago? It would, in all likelihood, be an Iranian client state today, a new nest of radical Islamic terrorists waving their bloody swords in the air.

Instead, while they may still be wary of embracing America or American "imperialism" in public, many a Middle Eastern resident today, hungry for freedom, far from anxious to don a burqa and return to the 7th century in all things, is breathing a sigh of relief as they watch voters reject fundamentalist religious parties from Egypt to Beirut.

Why, even the mullahs of Iran have their hands full with a restive populace unwilling to sit still for one more rigged election.

My, how things have changed. And what a weird coincidence that so many of these changes for the better seem to result from the steady course set by that reviled and bumbling incompetent, George W. Bush.