The Thrill Of Victory By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY Friday, November 28, 2008 4:20 PM PT Iraq: Nineteen months after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared the war "lost," a freely elected Iraqi Parliament signs a security pact with the United States. We won. It is the terrorists and their appeasers who lost. While Americans sat down for Thanksgiving dinner deciding what they were thankful for, the Iraqi parliament Thursday passed an agreement with the U.S. that set a date certain for American withdrawal, as war critics wanted. But it was based on conditions on the ground, as the Bush administration insisted. The conditions on the ground are that the jihadists are a spent force that lost the war as well as the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. Province after province has been returned to Iraqi control, and the young Iraqi nation appears both willing and able to defend itself. Under the terms of the agreement, U.S. forces will withdraw from Iraqi towns and cities by June 30, 2009, and the entire country by Jan. 1, 2012. The deal could still be rejected by the Iraqi people in a referendum scheduled for July 30, a key Sunni demand to get their agreement, but by then U.S. troops will no longer be a visible presence in urban areas. "This is a historic day for the great Iraqi people," Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said in a 10-minute address on national television. "We have achieved one of its most important achievements in approving the agreement on the withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq and restoring the sovereignty it lost two decades ago," al-Maliki said, referring to the imposition of sanctions after Operation Desert Storm liberated Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. "Two years ago, this day seemed unlikely," Bush said in a statement from his retreat at Camp David, Md. "But the success of the surge and the courage of the Iraqi people set the conditions for these two agreements to be negotiated and approved by the Iraqi parliament." The pact is divided into two agreements governing security, economics, culture and other areas of cooperation. The pact comes after a report on Iraq's progress that retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, now an adjunct professor of International Affairs at the United States Military Academy at West Point, compiled for his colleagues. The report concludes: "The United States is now clearly in the end game in Iraq to successfully achieve what should be our principle objectives: the withdrawal of the majority of U.S. ground combat forces . . . in the coming 36 months; leaving behind an operative civil state and effective Iraqi security forces; an Iraqi state which is not in open civil war among the Shia, the Sunnis, and the Kurds; and an Iraqi nation which is not at war with its six neighboring states." Provisional elections are scheduled for January, district elections for midyear and national elections sometime next December. Of al-Maliki, who, like President Bush, may have been "misunderestimated," McCaffrey says he "clearly has matured and gained stature as a political leader since he assumed his very dangerous and complex leadership responsibilities." The surge of Gen. David Petraeus, now commander of CENTCOM, took that country from a chaos beyond imagination to a functioning democracy where children walk to school safely, civilians stroll past stocked businesses and old men sit at cafes talking about politics. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, thankfully kept on by President-elect Obama, presided at Petraeus' retirement ceremony in Baghdad, and told the story of the best command decision a commander in chief has made since Lincoln sacked McClellan, put Grant in charge, and pointed Sherman in the direction of Atlanta. After Petraeus took charge, Gates noted, "Slowly, but inexorably, the tide began to turn, our enemies took a fearsome beating they will not soon forget. Fortified by our own people and renewed commitment, the soldiers of Iraq found new courage and confidence. And the people of Iraq, resilient and emboldened, rose up to take back their country." And now Johnny will soon come marching home. We love the smell of victory in the morning.