I bet this might come as surprise if you think our military is hated and that Iraqis would be upset at someone who has said he’d stay as long as it takes. If they wanted the Americans out, wouldn’t they be praying for Obama?

But perhaps the most remarkable change of all is in how Baghdadis view the U.S. military presence. A year ago, Hammadi was in a minority: most Iraqis living outside the Green Zone saw the Americans as the main cause of their country’s problems. Now, says Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman for the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, all the credit for the decline in violence is going to the U.S. military: “People think the Americans are like Superman, who can do anything.”

I had been skeptical about the military’s claim that its troops were being treated as friends and confidants in once hostile neighborhoods–it sounded too much like the promises of Iraqis’ greeting coalition forces with sweets and songs after the fall of Saddam Hussein. But colleagues recently embedded with U.S. troops in Baghdad tell stories of soldiers being received with smiles and waves, even cups of tea. Driving through the city, I watch Iraqis react when an American convoy rumbles past: not many smiles and waves, but there’s certainly much less scowling and cursing. Inevitably, though, the success of the surge is creating a culture of dependence on American troops. Madeeha Hasan Odhaib, a neighborhood councilor who works with displaced and homeless Iraqis, tells me about the aftermath of a recent suicide bombing. When the Iraqi security forces arrived on the scene, the families of the victims snubbed them. “They said, ‘We’ll wait to talk to the Americans, because they are the ones really in charge here,'” says Odhaib. The families figured they’d have a better chance of getting compensation from the U.S. than from the Iraqi bureaucracy.
But for many Baghdadis, there is now a new anxiety: What happens when the Americans go? “If Petraeus leaves, or if he sends home 50,000 soldiers, will the peace survive? I don’t think so,” says Mithal Alussi, a secular member of parliament with a reputation for straight talking.
The Baghdadis caught between these extremes know that the only thing standing in the way of another sectarian conflagration is the U.S. military. This may explain why every Iraqi who offers me a view on American politics seems to be praying for a McCain victory. A 100-year American military presence, of which McCain once spoke, may seem a bit much; I suspect most Iraqis would be happy with five.

Read the rest of the article to get why they are fearful for us to leave. The situation has improved but it is still dangerous and our troops are still needed to protect the Iraqis.

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