Levels of violence in Iraq appear to have continued to drop in recent weeks although you would perhaps not have realised this from reports in the mainstream media. This does not of course suite the agenda of those who are determined to damn every move by the US administration and those whose only cry is "troops out now".
If you want to check out a generally fair and accurate picture of the changing face of violence in Iraq over the surge period then its worth looking at Iraq Body count. If you check their graph of weekly deaths you will note that there has been a steady downward trend in levels of violence during 2007 ( despite periods of upsurge within that.)
In fact their graph would appear to indicate that, in terms of the trend, the violence peaked sometime during the end of 2006 to early 2007. There seems to have been a slow but steady down trend during 2007 from that peak. (There were periods within that trend which showed a marked increase).
What is particularly striking is the dip in levels of violence over the past month or two - taking the average level it would seem back to 2004 levels.
None of this is an argument that the current levels of violence are acceptable of course. Far from it.
The US was culpable in letting the genie of Iraqi violence out of the bottle by failing to adequately control the country after the invasion and by an over zealous de-baathification process, the complete disbandment of Iraqi army and the destruction of civilian organisations.
Nevertheless anyone with Iraq's best interests at heart would have to acknowledge that the combination of the surge, sunni groups moving against Al-qaeda in Anbar and elsewhere and the standing down of the Mehdi army have resulted in a significant reduction of violence.
A window of opportunity has now opened up within which the resolution of the problems of Iraq may just be possible. Resolution will of course not mean the immediate achievement of a society free from violence, gangsterism and fundamentalism. It may mean that some containment of these destructive forces is possible - enough at least to allow proper civil society to begin operating again.
Achieving a settlement of this type in Iraq is not ultimately within the gift of the US though. In this sense they cannot "win" the peace. All that can be done is to exert some control over the violence and hope that the Iraqi's themselves and their elected politicians and leaders will take the path of conciliation and peace and that their neighbours will support this process. The alternative is a return once more to the awful levels of bloodshed we saw in 2006 and early 2007.