War critics, as is well known, are so blinded by ideology that they can't see the very real improvements in Iraq:

Michael O'Hanlon, a Senior Fellow specializing in security issues in the Foreign Policy Studies program at the Brookings Institution, spent some "two and a half days" in September in Iraq. He came back with the impression that "on balance" the United States will ultimately succeed in Iraq.

O'Hanlon said he is "guardedly optimistic" that the situation in Iraq will stabilize under a government similar to "Ataturk's Turkey." He dismissed the possibility of a U.S.-style Jeffersonian democracy taking shape in Iraq in the immediate future.

O'Hanlon said "positive things" were happening in Iraq such as the ready availability of electricity and water, and access to telephones. He said hospitals are open and schools are full of children who, otherwise, would be on the streets and possibly could become victims of clashes between U.S. troops and insurgent groups.

According to O'Hanlon, "crime rates" in big cities such as Baghdad have begun to diminish and improving security conditions have resulted in fewer Iraqi casualties.

And, yes, those were were written in December of 2003. Note O'Hanlon's keen grasp of the subtle dynamics of Iraqi politics and society:

O'Hanlon said U.S. counter-insurgency efforts in Iraq have met with considerable success with the killing or arrest of "some 5,000 to 10,000 insurgents" belonging to Saddam Hussein's Fedayeen Corps, Special Republican Guards and Intelligence units. However, a similar number of insurgents remains at large, he cautioned.

According to O'Hanlon, U.S. Army troops have so far been "using force carefully" and avoided mass killings of Iraqi civilians. He said he believes that the Iraqi insurgency will not "snowball" with greater participation by civilians.

Note that horribly wrongheaded analysis wasn't inevitable at the time. The very same article features thoughts from Charles Duelfer, who's not a former defense budget analyst and doesn't write a New York Times op-ed every 36 hours, but did spend years working on Iraq issues:

Duelfer criticized the CPA for the total elimination of the Ba'ath party and the Iraqi army and security services. "They were fatal errors," he said.

According to him, many technocrats and middle class professionals who are needed to rebuild Iraq belonged to the Ba'ath party not because of choice but because of the need to join the party to get a job during the Saddam Hussein regime. Now these jobless technocrats and former soldiers -- many of them in the Sunni Triangle -- resent the American occupation, he said.

Duelfer said that U.S. military tactics involving house-to-house sweeps are "highly embarrassing and insulting" to most Iraqis. According to him many Iraqis who at first welcomed the removal of the Saddam Hussein regime have now become alienated.

Typical liberal defeatist!