A matter of less than 24 hours before the surprise transfer of power, the Sunday New York Times had a reflective piece by a reporter on the future of Iraq.

The reporter found signs of hope and dread in Iraq. The story ended on a hopeful note as a Shiite politician who had been tortured by Saddam Hussein’s men, expressed expectations for a better life in Iraq.

The Shiite leader told the Times that he had expected the situation would be “much worse” than it now is.

“We never imagined this would be easy,” the Iraqi leader told the reporter. “We were telling the Americans, you will have a mess. It is mostly the psychological situation. The suffering.”

The press has portrayed Iraq as a mess, but as somebody said on TV over the weekend, the United States was a mess in the 1860, and Europe was a mess in the 1940s. War and its aftermath are always a mess.

But, if the Iraqi experiment succeeds, the Middle East will be changed forever, and someday it will be a lot less messy.