“Bush is a stubborn man,” columnist David Brooks wrote. “Well, without that stubbornness, that unwillingness to accept defeat on his watch, he never would have bucked the opposition to the surge.
“Bush is an outrageously self-confident man. Well, without that self-confidence, he never would have overruled his generals.
“The fact is that Bush, who made such bad calls early in the war, made a courageous and astute decision in 2006. More than a year on, the surge has produced large, if tenuous, gains. Violence is down sharply. Daily life has improved. The Iraqi military has been given time to become a more effective fighting force. The Iraqi government is showing signs of strength and even glimmers of impartiality. Iraq has moved from being a failed state to merely a fragile one, as Vali Nasr of the Council on Foreign Relations has put it.
“The whole episode is a reminder that history is a complicated thing. The traits that lead to disaster in certain circumstances are the very ones that come in handy in others.”