The United States handed over sovereignty of the Iraqi "Green Zone" to the Iraqi government yesterday. To read a story about this, click here.
Although largely symbolic at this point, the symbolism is great and the accomplishment is even greater. President Bush's leadership made the difference in Iraq and history will prove him right. Although Iraq still has many growing pains, the nation-state is moving forward and is beginning to take its first baby steps.
A confession: I thought the "surge" strategy was political suicide and I privately believed it wouldn't work. I saw it through a purely political lens and believed that moving more troops into a war that most Americans thought was lost would prove to be a major catastrophe. I was wrong and so were the President's critics. The surge worked to significantly reduce violence in Iraq and it is giving democracy a chance. Even Bush's harshest critics must agree that an Iraq that is democratic and free is a significant step toward transforming that part of the world. It is President Bush's vision and one that, if accomplished, will be his legacy.
The Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq was a major milestone in that it is a framework for withdrawal from Iraq. The agreement was quietly negotiated by the Bush administration because of the successes of the surge and the military strategy.
President-elect Obama surged in his primary and received tremendous support from the left of his party because of his position on the war. A year ago, this dominated his agenda and his campaign. Today, I will bet that President-elect Obama will do very little differently than the Bush Administration has done. Just watch. His Secretary of Defense will be the same. So will his strategy. It is the right strategy.
It is still likely too soon to say: Mission Accomplished. But, Iraq is changing for the better and that is because of the vision and fortitude of President Bush.