If the AP says the war in Iraq is practically won, that’s news—even though one of the co-authors of the piece is John Burns, who has always been more measured and judicious about the war than most journalists.
But I do have a quarrel with the article: it repeats the Meme That Will Not Die:
It means the combat phase finally is ending, years past the time when President Bush optimistically declared it had.
The correction for this error bears repeating, because the misleading story seems to have penetrated almost everywhere. Here are the relevant quotes from Bush’s infamous speech given on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003. I think it’s crystal clear that Bush was referring to the end of the conventional war against the military of Saddam Hussein, and was well aware that the occupation would present more difficulties and bloodshed [emphasis mine]:
Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country. …
We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We are bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We are pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We have begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons, and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. We are helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people. The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. And then we will leave — and we will leave behind a free Iraq…
Al-Qaida is wounded, not destroyed. The scattered cells of the terrorist network still operate in many nations, and we know from daily intelligence that they continue to plot against free people.
[CORRECTION: A very alert reader (more alert than I in this case) has pointed out that the piece was written by Robert Burns, not John Burns. The latter is the person to whom I was referring when I said that his work on Iraq has been more measured and judicious than that of most journalists.
And I would wager that the Robert Burns involved---who is an AP military reporter---is not the same as this guy, either.]