Iraqis Strive For Normalcy

An Iraqi bride and groom get ready to cut the wedding cake at a mass wedding ceremony in a hotel in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007. Two hundred and sixty six couples got married Wednesday, in a collective wedding ceremony in the Babylon hotel in Baghdad. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
AP Photo/Hadi Mizban
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

You may not want to start making vacation plans just yet … but the violence in Iraq has subsided enough that some Iraqis are starting to breath again.

No, the borders are not crushed with people clambering to get back in. But the streets are no longer littered with dead bodies, either.

U.S. authorities say military and civilian deaths are both way down. The New York Times has a color photograph from Baghdad on the front page of a couple getting married. If you're getting married, chances are you're thinking about the future.

Violence in Iraq has dropped down to the merely horrible levels that existed before the bombing of the mosque in Samarra a year and a half ago.

That touched off a civil war. And, yes, thanks to the American troop surge, there are enough soldiers on the ground to create a semblance of order.

So, now what?

Part of the rationale of the surge was to give the Iraqi government time to get its act together, and American commanders are starting to wonder when - or if - that will ever happen.

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