Are there sighs that anti-Iraq war sentiment is becoming less vitriolic? Not only did the protests seem to fizzle, but there are two good commentary pieces in today’s Washington Post. The first is an editorial that gives the president high marks for yesterday’s press conference (where, I might add, he managed to be amiable but firm to the increasingly unhinged Helen Thomas) and contains this observation:

  “Mr. Bush, however, hasn’t lost sight of the stakes. ‘The enemy has said that it’s just a matter of time before the United States loses its nerve and withdraws from Iraq. That is what they have said,’ he told reporters. ‘And their objective for driving us out of Iraq is to have a place from which to launch their campaign to overthrow moderate governments in the Middle East, as well as to continue attacking places like the United States. Now, maybe some discount those words as kind of meaningless propaganda. I don’t. I take them really seriously.'”

I never thought he’d lost sight of the stakes, did you? But the editorial is overall good (as were many of the newspapers editorials in the early days and days leading up to the war).

The second piece is from a column by Fareed Zakaria, who also remembers the stakes:

“So why have I not given up hope? Partly it’s because I have been to Iraq, met the people who are engaged in the struggle to build their country and cannot bring myself to abandon them. Iraq has no Nelson Mandelas, but many of its leaders have shown remarkable patience, courage and statesmanship. Consider the wisdom and authority of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, or the fair-minded and effective role of the Kurds, or the persistent pleas for secularism and tolerance from men such as Ayad Allawi. You see lots of rough politics and jockeying for power in Baghdad. But when the stakes get high, when the violence escalates, when facing the abyss, you also see glimpses of leadership.

“There is no doubt that the costs of the invasion have far outweighed the benefits. But in the long view of history, will that always be true? If, after all this chaos, a new and different kind of Iraqi politics emerges, it will make a difference in the region. Even now, amid the violence, one can see that. The old order in Iraq was built on fear and terror. One group dominated the land, oppressing the others. Now representatives of all three communities — Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds — are sitting down at the table, trying to construct a workable bargain they can all live with.”