In a speech Monday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vice President Joe Biden was upbeat about developments in Iraq, where U.S. forces have officially withdrawn from combat operations:
First, violence in Iraq has decreased to such a degree that those who last served there three or four years ago—when the country was being torn apart by sectarian conflict—would hardly recognize the place. Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Shiite extremists remain dangerous, and their attacks still claim innocent lives. But they have utterly failed to achieve their objectives of inflaming sectarian conflict and undermining the Iraqi government.
Second, Iraq’s security forces—now more than 650,000 strong—are already leading the way to defend and protect their country. We have transferred control over hundreds of bases, and many thousands of square miles of territory. Some said that our drawdown would bring more violence. They were wrong, because the Iraqis are ready to take charge. And in recent