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The Changing War Dynamic

The Financial Times does not approve of the war in Iraq, and it has not approved of it since the very beginning. But it is a newspaper, and it is accustomed to fitting its opinions on what should happen to real developments on the ground and what is now possible. It understands that its conclusions must be grounded in fact and not on some ideological preconception of what can or cannot be done among the Arabs.

On Wednesday, it led its editorial page with a headline that must have stunned some of its readers: "UK must stay the course in Iraq." It blamed the British government for parsimony in the early years of the war and targeted Tony Blair's government -- for all the prime minister's cuddling with George Bush -- for having "undermined (UK troops) from the start by Whitehall's equivocation about the war."

And more: The FT recognizes great progress in the ongoing outcomes of battle, especially in the "Iraqi-led military operation known as the Charge of the Knights." From these follow specific British operational obligations. In sum: "...the withdrawal timetable should be genuinely facts on the ground -- and not by domestic political considerations."

Of course, I don't know what Barack Obama will think after his trip to Iraq (and Afghanistan), and I haven't spoken with him about this at all. But the New York Sun yesterday reported in its lead editorial about a Democratic congressman who first opposed the war and, upon actually seeing what is actually occurring in it, changed his mind.

Still, Obama has even from a distance seemed to modulate his positions on Iraq. If you recall, Samantha Power wandered off the reservation not only because of her truthful observations about Hillary but by musing honestly to a press person about her sense that Obama's tactical and strategic opinions were in flux.