The frequency of large-scale bomb attacks has dropped, but Monday's blasts that killed 57 people are testament to the fact that Iraq is still plagued by excessive violence. Only when measured against the huge loss of life of previous months can this fall in attacks be considered a ''success''. Against any other measure the security situation in Iraq is still catastrophic, though not as headline grabbing as before.
There has been a relative lull in the violence. In the worst month in 2006, 3,700 Iraqis were killed, compared with last month's (Pentagon-estimated) toll of 490, the lowest since early 2004.
The last large-scale bloodshed in Baghdad was on June 17, when a lorry loaded with explosives blew up in Hurriyah district, killing at least 63 people.
But talk of the success of the troop surge is at best premature and at worst inspired by domestic political concerns in the US.
There is more than a hint of suspicion that the surge is being talked in the US to get the Iraq issue out of the way before the November election. The plight of the Iraqi people should never be hostage to the American electoral cycle. Even if the surge has been relatively successful, it is important to stress that daily life for the Iraqis can take on nightmarish proportions. The electricity supply is intermittent, the service infrastructure has been smashed, people have been forced to leave their homes, there are more than 4 million Iraqi refugees, and the chance of death or injury is still unacceptably high.
This is a litany of failure, not of success. It is insulting to the plight of Iraqis to say that their country is returning to normality. Saying that the suffering of the Iraqi people has diminished slightly runs the risk of failing to acknowledge the extent of their past and present torment.