Many people ask, how should we define success? Success in Iraq and Afghanistan is the establishment of peaceful, stable, prosperous, democratic states that pose no threat to neighbors and contribute to the defeat of terrorists. It is the triumph of religious tolerance over violent radicalism.Of course the war in Iraq is currently a failure by all those standards.
Those who argue that our goals in Iraq are unachievable are wrong, just as they were wrong a year ago when they declared the war in Iraq already lost. Since June 2007 sectarian and ethnic violence in Iraq has been reduced by 90 percent. Overall civilian deaths have been reduced by more than 70 percent. Deaths of coalition forces have fallen by 70 percent. The dramatic reduction in violence has opened the way for a return to something approaching normal political and economic life for the average Iraqi.Yes, compared to the worst days of the civil war - when death squads roamed the streets of Baghdad just miles from the Green Zone and millions fled their homes - things are now better in Iraq. This is about the only standard by which we're currently succeeding in Iraq.
John McCain doesn't compare Iraq today to Iraq 5 years ago because his war has made life worse in all respects. The progress he applauds is only relative to our previous failures and he insists the situation is so fragile that if we leave, there will be a genocide.
And as for life approaching normal, over 1000 Iraqis have died in political violence this March, which is up from February, which was up from January.
Update: make it about 1400 in March - nearly double January's toll.