Two articles leaped off the Drudge Report at me from under the graphic to the right and demanded I read them. The first was the results of a poll about how the attitude of people in the U.S. is changing about our missing in Iraq.

In the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, taken Friday through Sunday, the proportion of those who said the additional troops are “making the situation better” rose to 31% from 22% a month ago. Those who said it was “not making much difference” dropped to 41% from 51%.

About the same number said it was making things worse: 24% now, 25% a month ago.

Your average citizen here in the States has very little connection with the fighting in Iraq. So how do we know whether things are improving in Iraq? The simple answer is that we are basing our opinions on what is being reported from Iraq and about Iraq. I have to believe that the increase in optimism about our actions in Iraq comes from reporting that is more optimistic overall. And now for some good news out of Iraq.

The new U.S. military strategy in Iraq, unveiled six months ago to little acclaim, is working.

In two weeks of observing the U.S. military on the ground and interviewing commanders, strategists and intelligence officers, it’s apparent that the war has entered a new phase in its fifth year.

But having led off with two paragraphs of good news, it’s time for the AP writer to give some “balance” in his article. And the best way to do that is to spread some doom and gloom. This is the journalistic equivalent of making a pig’s ear out of a silk purse.

It is a phase with fresh promise yet the same old worry: Iraq may be too fractured to make whole.

No matter how well or how long the U.S. military carries out its counterinsurgency mission, it cannot guarantee victory.

Only the Iraqis can. And to do so they probably need many more months of heavy U.S. military involvement. Even then, it is far from certain that they are capable of putting this shattered country together again.

It’s been an uphill struggle from the start to build Iraqi security forces that are able to fight andmore importantly at this junctureable to divorce themselves from deep-rooted sectarian loyalties. It is the latter requirementevenhandedness and reliabilitythat is furthest from being fulfilled.

There is no magic formula for success.

It’s a good thing this AP writer spent five paragraphs to bemoan the tough road we have in front of us in Iraq after writing two paragraphs about how we are seeing success there, otherwise people might have an even better opinion of our successes in Iraq.

With the troop surge bringing more and more signs of success, the focus of the detractors will switch to the political successes. You can expect to hear from Democrats more comments about how the political successes in Iraq are not measuring up to our military successes, and these comments will increase as we get closer to the September report presented by Gen. Petraeus. Democrats have invested too much of their credibility on the failure of our mission in Iraq that good news from Iraq is seen as a problem for them.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. World War II wasn’t won in a day. And our fight against terrorist nutjobs who want to see our nation, our civilization, and our people dead and gone will not be won in a day. But it can be won if we have the strength as a nation to fight for it.

I’ll close with some more good news by someone who has been in Iraq and is a position to know, Michael Yon:

I, like everyone else, will have to wait for September’s report from Gen. Petraeus before making more definitive judgments. But I know for certain that three things are different in Iraq now from any other time I’ve seen it.

1. Iraqis are uniting across sectarian lines to drive Al Qaeda in all its disguises out of Iraq, and they are empowered by the success they are having, each one creating a ripple effect of active citizenship.

2. The Iraqi Army is much more capable now than it was in 2005. It is not ready to go it alone, but if we keep working, that day will come.

3. Gen. Petraeus is running the show. Petraeus may well prove to be to counterinsurgency warfare what Patton was to tank battles with Rommel, or what Churchill was to the Nazis.

And yes, in case there is any room for question, Al Qaeda still is a serious problem in Iraq, one that can be defeated. Until we do, real and lasting security will elude both the Iraqis and us.

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