Of all the depressing ways that the war in Vietnam has been replayed in Iraq—the failed architect of the war being promoted to World Bank chief, the failed ground commander being promoted to Army chief of staff, congressional Democrats reverting to Vietnam-type, the whole rotten litany—nothing can top the belated dispatch to Iraq of David Petraeus, a general who actually knows what he's doing.
Ramadi, Iraq—It’s the second week of December, yet apart from a palm tree strung with Christmas lights outside the headquarters of the First Armored Division’s First Brigade Combat Team (1-1 AD), Ramadi shows no trace of the season. But, at the nearby house of Sheik Abdul Sattar, nothing can interrupt the festive spirit— or the sheik. Waving a lit cigarette, the former Al Qaeda ally has been advertising his fealty to the American cause for nearly an hour now.
Last month, at a grubby Italian restaurant near a military base in North Carolina, I had dinner with a senior Army officer I had met in Iraq. We drank, talked about the war, and, on the television above the bar, we watched the fall of Washington. The dueling commentators on the TV screen were saying that theupcoming elections would doom the U.S. enterprise in Iraq. They were sure of themselves: This was unquestionably a Tet moment. Or was it Waterloo?