Ralph Peters, the military historian, has an important piece on General Petraeus’ achievements in Iraq:

“But it’s a better place than it was a year ago, with violence reduced by half in Baghdad. Long the deadly base of al Qaeda in Iraq, Anbar province has gone from hundreds of daily attempted attacks on our troops to four earlier this week. Iraqis assume ever more responsibility for their own security. And former enemies are rallying to fight beside us, instead of against us.

“How did the general and the troops under his command achieve such rapid progress? He lays out a model: ‘The Re-Liberation of Iraq,’ this time from a new wave of oppressors, the terrorists, insurgents and militias.

“Petraeus acknowledges the errors made in the early occupation years, stressing, above all, the failure to provide security for the population. We cleaned out the violent actors from one city after another, but failed to stay and set the conditions for political and economic progress. When we left, the bad guys came back – and killed anybody who had cooperated with us.

“Now, through the efficient use of American troops and a greatly increased employment of Iraqi forces, we’re taking an approach that allows for fighting fiercely when necessary, but which looks beyond the gunfights.”

Remember: There are only two exit strategies in war: victory or defeat.