April 29, 2007

VIA THE NEW YORK TIMES: surprisingly good news from Iraq. Especially surprising since it’s via the New York Times. “Anbar Province, long the lawless heartland of the tenacious Sunni Arab resistance, is undergoing a surprising transformation. Violence is ebbing in many areas, shops and schools are reopening, police forces are growing and the insurgency appears to be in retreat.”

(Via Tom Maguire, who has some thoughts on what it might mean).

UPDATE: Plus this New York Times report about Afghanistan: “Infant mortality has dropped by 18 percent in Afghanistan, one of the first real signs of recovery for the country five years after the fall of the Taliban regime, health officials said Thursday. . . . 40,000 to 50,000 fewer infants are dying now than in the Taliban era, Dr. Fatimi said.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ace has an amusing take.

MORE: A look at what the Times left out. Surge? What surge?

Another reader cynically suggests that we’ll see more good news in the near future — having achieved their goal of persuading Americans to pull out, the press will loudly report some good news in order to protect themselves against postwar charges of bias. I think that’s overly cynical.

STILL MORE: NYT: Late to the party.

MORE STILL: Criticizing the Times on the surge mention may be unfair. A Marine officer with knowledge in the area who asks that I not use his name emails:

I know a good bit more about things there than I can let on, but one thing I did want to email and make clear: There has been no surge of extra troops to Anbar yet. What has been accomplished thus far has been with the same force structure that has been more or less in place there for the past three years. I might even go so far as to say that the new strategy for the entire country — begun in January — had its genesis with the actions of one particular Marine battalion working in the far west in the fall of 2005.

It was so successful that its methods – which I won’t go into – were adopted in some manner throughout Anbar and now we are seeing their fruits.

Worth noting. And this underscores a point made here before — that the ‘surge” isn’t so much about more troops as it is about different tactics.