Liberal think tank members that have recently visited Iraq are reporting positive trends, and are now calling for a strategic patience for the effort. This is a major change from the excessive doom and gloom reported before, and the demand for a complete and immediate retreat.
The local Iraqi population is not reporting security as their main concern any more. Attacks are way down (and crime: esp murders) and bombings are becoming much less effective because of the walled areas with security checkpoints.
Calls to the “Tips Lines” by local Iraqis are way up with credible and actionable information.
Most Iraqis complain about essential services. This is partly due to the extra electricity demand caused by new air conditioners; refrigerators; satellite TV; etc, that were not available in abundance before the war. This, and all the extra trash now being created, are difficult to deal with, but are signs of progress.
What is often not reported is that the citizens ARE getting close to 20 hours of electricity a day; the reported 2-3 hours a day is the free electricity from the government, the rest of the electricity is being bought off the local economy. I often fly over the Baghdad area at night – and I see the lights on in and around every house.
Our Soldiers are living with the Iraqis. This could be a very dangerous situation, yet there is a trend emerging of far fewer American deaths and injuries over the last two months (JUL-AUG).
The Iraqi Security Forces are becoming more reliable and conducting missions on their own.
Iraqi health care system and emergency services (first responders) are coming on line.
Markets are packed full of people every day. This includes some major markets that were dead as recent as eight months ago – yet in many markets, hundreds of vendors (reaching capacity) and thousands of shoppers are filling the streets today.
Before the war, there was a very limited land-line phone system. Now, just about everyone has a cell phone… or two… or more.
I now see the children out playing (like in the photo, in the pool). They smile at the Soldiers when they walk the street.
The Iraqi national soccer team (a mix of all sects) won the Asian Cup – a real national pride has surged because of this.
The Iraqi government is reaching out to all political groups to form a larger and stronger unity coalition. The parliament may be on summer recess, but some work is being done.
Both local and national government is learning to manage and spend their budget. The government here is not short money – it is short in an experienced government to run a country of 26 million (six million in Baghdad)… but it is learning.
Sunni tribes are turning on Sunni Al Qa’ida. Al Qa’ida was too radical with forcing its very strict religious practices and was indiscriminate in who it killed in the mass vehicle bomb attacks.
It has become a well know fact that Iran is supporting many of the insurgent groups in Iraq. Having this is the open had made it more difficult for Iran to operate as freely in Iraq as it has in the recent past.
Even our own media is starting to report the good news… or just not reporting on Iraq at all. In either case, there is much less bad news to report. I can only hope that the leaders we trust in Washington put politics behind them and do the right - not just what they feel it takes to get re-elected.