Well: "you've got to admit", if you're into weighing facts. If you're into ideologies ueber alles, you don't have to admit anything, and the Web is full of those sort.
Here are two interesting articles. The first appeared in the NYT on Sunday, and tells about how the Americans are learning from experience and getting ever better at their job; there are all sorts of Iraqis who are stepping up to the challenge, but there is an internal-Shiite dynamic which is beginning to muddy the waters, but this is a challenge, not a knell of doom. My favorite part of the article:
The goals of the surge against Sunni insurgents and Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia were political as well as military. The old strategy assumed that elections and the transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis would take the steam out of the insurgency and help the United States to manage with fewer and fewer troops. Iraqi politics, it assumed, would enable the military strategy.
This was the result of the Weltanschauung whereby foreign intervention is imperialism is Always Very Bad.
Petraeus’s new approach turned that formula on its head. It postulated that a troop increase — and a strategy that put a premium on protecting civilians — would win over hesitant Iraqis, generate intelligence about the insurgents and give Iraqi leaders the confidence to turn away from their militias and private armies and work together. More than half of the American reinforcements were allocated to the regions surrounding Baghdad that Al Qaeda militants used to mount their car-bomb attacks, while the rest were distributed throughout the city. The theory was that once Al Qaeda was weakened, that would eliminate the rationale that Shiite militias like Sadr’s Mahdi Army and the Badr Corps of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq were needed to protect the Shiite population. Breathing space would be created for political reconciliation. Military action would enable Iraqi politics.
Which proves, that foreign intervention (with bayonets) can sometimes be better than all the other alternatives.
The second article, by Biddle O'Hanlon and Pollack in Foreign Affairs, describes at great length how the American intervention goes about supporting the Iraqi attempts to build a reasonable state. It takes awhile to read, but if you feel you have a stake in the subject, and many of us do, it's worth the time.The fundamental truth underlying the entire story, to my mind, is that the Americans have basic values that are good for people in general. Rule of law, human dignity, and also the willingness to think rationally and try to figure out better ways to do things when needed; the steel to shoulder the burden doesn't hurt, either. Since these are guiding principles for the Americans, sooner or later they'll bring results.
I'll stop here now and leave room for people to rant about the CIA, Oil Companies, Imperialism, Occupations, and all that stuff.