Here’s a Times of London pick for story of the year that few in the US media are likely to nominate-it makes them look foolish:

By any measure, the US-led surge has been little short of a triumph. The number of American military fatalities is reduced sharply, as is the carnage of Iraqi civilians, Baghdad as a city is functioning again, oil output is above where it stood in March 2003 but at a far stronger price per barrel and, the acid test, many of those who fled to Syria and Jordan are today returning home.

The cheering has, of course, to come accompanied by caveats. Security has certainly been improved, but it remains fragile. Basra and the surrounding areas, handed back by Britain yesterday, are not as violent as they were a few months ago but this comparative peace has been bought at a high price in terms of tolerating intolerance (particularly towards women).