09/01/2010 10:02 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

So It's Victory in Iraq

It's been the Neocons who have been, through a constant refinement of the goals and measures, suggesting that we've won the seven-year war in Iraq. Now, only slightly more judiciously, the anti-war president and his ever-voluble vice president are suggesting this, too.

Well, people will say anything if it suits.

David Brooks, ever trying to sugarcoat the basic Neocon position, weighs in with an assessment of Iraq in which, all things considered, he finds the seven-year effort admirable and worth it. It cost us nearly 5,000 lives and, he says, choosing the lowest possible figure, $53 billion (for "reconstruction"), but damn if we haven't built a nation, however fragile.

This is going to be the talking point, not just that we've won, but that we've done something good: Government, infrastructure, police, incipient democracy, oil business, all up and running because of our dogged persistence.

In this, I'm afraid, the resurgent Neocons are about to score a considerable PR coup. If we're out of this mess -- or that is, if there are no longer any bodies being produced from it -- then we're happy to think the best of ourselves. It's nice to believe it wasn't for naught. Even many of the people who came to believe it was for naught while we were fighting it will now come to believe it was reasonably productive after all. We're going to be left with a model for going to war: a tough slog, but, in the end, a successful one.

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