Blinkered critics of the US operation in Iraq insist that ethnic cleansing, and an exodus of refugees from the country, are the main reasons for the marked drop in violence in Iraq over the past two months.
Staunch supporters of the invasion insist that the US troop surge coupled with a new counterinsurgency strategy have done more than anything to reduce the violence.
Writing for Bill Roggio's top-rated milblog Long War Journal, Bill Ardolino explains that actually several converging factors have helped tamp down violence. In addition to examining the role of the above-mentioned factors, Ardolino cites:
> Strengthened Iraqi security forces
> The truce with Muqtada al Sadr and the Mahdi Army
> Fewer foreign fighters and weapons getting across Iraq's borders.
Ardolino stresses that the gains against violence are still easily reversible. But two other factors he discusses -- the rise of the Iraqi people and "reconcilliation" -- are approaching a critical mass that can't be easily overturned.
That suggests support for democracy in Iraq is holding and building. It's not the Disneyland concept of democracy we envisioned at the outset and it's not the centrally-administered democracy we'd hoped for. But it's the birth of a genuine democracy in all its chaos and messiness. The majority of the Iraqi people have taken to freedom like ducks to water. Amazing, when you consider how long they were used to living under oppression.