Grunt’s-eye view

When it comes to the future of Iraq, I try to be neither overly optimistic (no problem there) nor overly pessimistic (a good deal harder).

But Thomas Friedman of the New York Times– hardly a Bush-policy cheerleader– has just returned from a visit to Iraq with a column (worth reading in its entirety) that offers a surprising grunt’s-eye view of the situation on the ground:

Readers regularly ask me when I will throw in the towel on Iraq. I will be guided by the U.S. Army and Marine grunts on the ground. They see Iraq close up. Most of those you talk to are so uncynical – so convinced that we are doing good and doing right, even though they too are unsure it will work. When a majority of those grunts tell us that they are no longer willing to risk their lives to go out and fix the sewers in Sadr City or teach democracy at a local school, then you can stick a fork in this one. But so far, we ain’t there yet. The troops are still pretty positive.