Well, I'll be damned:
BAGHDAD - Iraq's parliament passed a law on Saturday to let members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party return to public life, winning Washington's swift praise for meeting a benchmark aimed at reconciling warring sects.
Washington had been pressing Iraq's Shiite Islamist-led government to pass the new law as one of a series of steps to draw the minority Sunni Arab community that held sway under Saddam closer into the political process.
"This law preserves the rights of the Iraqi people after the crimes committed by the Baath Party while also benefiting the innocent members of the party. This law provides a balance," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.
I used to say the odds of the surge working were about the same as the odds on hitting a single number in roulette, 38 to 1. (By the way, pre-surge we were talking Lotto odds.) I think it's time to upgrade from roulette to a roll of the dice. The odds on rolling a seven are 5 to 1.
5 to 1 may not sound great, but it beats hell out of 38 to 1.
And by the way, there's a caveat: definitions of "success" may vary. (Have, in fact, varied quite a bit.) I'm willing to call it "success" if we end up with an Iraq -- unified or not -- where human rights are reasonably well-protected; where women are treated as well as they are in, say, Jordan; where the government is representative to a significant degree; where Iraq vigorously pursues terrorists; where Iran is balanced-off rather than enhanced as a regional power; and where the US can maintain reasonably secure diplomatic, intelligence and training forces. In other words, not Vermont, not even New Jersey, but a 30% improvement on Egypt or 40% improvement on Saudi Arabia.
Would that outcome, an arguably democratic, mostly free, semi-egalitarian Iraq, be worth 4,000 Americans dead and tens of thousands damaged? Yes. Yes, because despite a degree of bungling and incompetence that will have drastically degraded and delayed the hoped-for regional effect, that Iraq, that Iraq-of-our-sobered-hopes, would eventually have a positive effect on one of the scariest areas in the world.
But the odds are still 5 to 1.
Others on topic: Here.