Two vocal critics of the Iraq War went to Iraq and have a surprisingly positive take on the war.

VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

I think all of us should know, at a gut level, that things were not being handled well for a good while. Those of us who support the war, at least most of us who have not bailed, had an equal sense that things would get corrected if given the time.

It appears that this is happening. By most reports the plan is starting to work. The biggest problem is that the media equates the surge with the plan. They are not the same thing. The surge is just one of a large number of tactical changes. And we’re getting results.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

This has been one of the Bush administration’s mistakes. We’re not going to have “victory” in Iraq. We are going to make it possible for the Iraqis to stand up and exert positive responsibility.

And that’s a good thing.