Iraqis resilient after yesterday's horror in Baghdad

But my Iraqi friends were surprisingly upbeat about the future, even after Sunday’s terrible bombings. “In every sector, Iraq is coming back to its normal mode,” said one. “There is no way it will slip back,” insisted the other. I wondered at their confidence on such a day, but that is part of the Iraqi toughness.

Rather than talking about the bombings, we talked politics. My friends sharply criticized the incumbent prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. But as we were debating, one turned to me with a smile: “Here we are talking about who will run the government after the elections. Could you do that in any other country in the Arab world?”

As night fell, Petraeus and his party flew to Camp Victory, near the airport. “Baghdad can be a cruel place,” he told me. “You have to keep a grip on your hopes.” But as the Black Hawk skimmed over the city, Baghdad seemed to be teeming again, despite the morning’s events.