JD Johannes gives us a before-and-after look at the Dora sector of Baghdad, pre-surge and current day. The difference between April 2007 and October 2008 is stunning, perhaps even more so with the latter shots occurring at night:

A bridal shop? A pool hall? I seem to recall the doom-and-gloom predictions of the war’s critics insisting that Iraq would turn into an Islamist theocracy. That doesn’t square with the image of nighttime commerce in the kinds of pastimes that would blow a Taliban aneurysm.

The surge worked.  Glenn Reynolds heard the same verdict from Michael Yon earlier today:

“There’s nothing going on. I’m with the 10th Mountain Division, and about half of the guys I’m with haven’t fired their weapons on this tour and they’ve been here eight months. And the place we’re at, South Baghdad, used to be one of the worst places in Iraq. And now there’s nothing going on. I’ve been walking my feet off and haven’t seen anything. I’ve been asking Iraqis, ‘do you think the violence will kick up again,’ but even the Iraqi journalists are sounding optimistic now and they’re usually dour.” There’s a little bit of violence here and there, but nothing that’s a threat to the general situation. Plus, not only the Iraqi Army, but even the National Police are well thought of by the populace. Training from U.S. toops has paid off, he says, in building a rapport.

Yon warned a couple of years ago that Iraq was being lost, thanks to a feckless American war strategy, so he’s not exactly Pollyanna.  Afghanistan is another matter, but we won the war and the peace in Iraq, and all we need to do is to keep from running away so fast that we give it away to the terrorists.

Update: It must have been a long election season; I wrote “poll hall” instead of “pool hall”.  Ugh.