Iraq Surprise

Baghdad, IRAQ: Iraqi army soldiers share a moment with Iraqi children at a checkpoint in central Baghdad, 20 April 2007. Each Friday the war-torn capital is put under a day-long curfew as thousands of Muslim worshippers head to their respective mosques in order to perform the weekly Friday prayer. AFP PHOTO/ALI YUSSEF (Photo credit should read ALI YUSSEF/AFP/Getty Images)
Getty Images/Ali Yussef
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchorHarry Smith.

Good news. Bad news.

It should surprise no one that living conditions for the average Iraqi are desperate. A brand new report from aid groups in Iraq says that millions of Iraqis lack water, sanitation, food, or adequate shelter. More than four million have been uprooted by the violence. In short, it is a humanitarian crisis.

When a third of the children in Iraq are malnourished, it's hard to win the peace. But, today, Michael O'Hanlon and George Packer, writing in the New York Times, say that the United States may be on the verge of at least bringing enough stability to the country that the deplorable living conditions could be improved.

Packer and O'Hanlon have been quite critical of the administrations efforts in Iraq of late, and they admit with some surprise that the surge is having some positive effects.

The big unanswered question: Can the Iraqis take over when the time comes, and what will be left when they do?

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

By Harry Smith