Iraq flexes its muscle

The Iraq-United States military accord approved by the Iraqi Cabinet Sunday demonstrates that a great deal has been achieved toward making Iraq a democratic, independent nation.

The first thing to realize about the pact, which replaces a United Nations resolution authorizing foreign troops in Iraq, is that the Iraqis didn’t act as patsies for the United States or anyone else. They demanded and received something the Bush administration was not eager to offer — a definite timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Those troops will be removed from major Iraqi cities by July 2009, and out of the country entirely by the end of 2011.

The Iraqi leaders also didn’t succumb to pressure from Iran, which reportedly offered bribes to government officials to oppose the pact and backed large public demonstrations against it last week.

Syria and other neighboring countries also failed to sway the Iraqis — be they Sunni or Shiite — with their public statements opposing the agreement.

It’s also important to recall how bleak things looked just two years ago and the dire predictions made by U.S. opponents of the war : There would be endless civil war in Iraq. The Iraqis were incapable of providing their own security. The United States would establish permanent military bases in that country.

Thanks to the surge in troops, the change in tactics under Gen. David Petraeus and the amazing work and sacrifices of U.S. military personnel, none of those predictions look accurate today.

Peace, independence and democratic self-governance are not guaranteed in Iraq, of course. But the proposed military pact, which goes to the Iraqi parliament next week, is welcome evidence that the country is progressing toward meeting all those goals.


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