In the latest edition of The Weekly Standard Max Boot reports continued improvement in the situation in Iraq despite the withdrawal of US troops from major cities:
"Notwithstanding the diminished American role, which occasioned some initial confusion on both sides, violence has not risen since June 30. In many areas attacks are actually lower today, down to levels not seen since 2003. Only 9 Americans died in combat in October--still 9 too many but a far cry from the grisly totals of years past. In all, 285 people were killed in October in political violence across Iraq, a 93 percent reduction from three years ago. (There were 4,100 fatalities in October 2006, according to data provided to me by the U.S. military headquarters.) When attacks do occur they do not spur revenge killings as in the past. Baghdad is now full of life and electricity--literally. The streets are lit up at night. Stores are open, including hundreds of stores selling liquor, and the streets are full of traffic."
Thoughts are turning to what the US-Iraq relationship might look like in the long-term:
"It is important not only to achieve a smooth handoff from U.S. to Iraqi forces but also to lay the foundations for a future U.S.-Iraqi strategic partnership that could become a pillar of stability in the Middle East. There is talk of a post-2011 U.S. military training mission here and joint U.S.-Iraqi exercises such as the biennial Bright Star exercise the United States conducts with Egypt and other allies. Sales of U.S. military equipment are in the pipeline. If F-16s are sold, as the Iraqis want, they will then be reliant on U.S. spare parts and support for many years to come. On the cultural side, it would make sense to bring more Iraqi students to the United States and possibly even establish a new American University in Baghdad like its predecessors in Cairo and Beirut."
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