Politicians, pundits and regular Americans need to come to terms with the fact that coalition forces are now winning the war in Iraq, and that President Bush's controversial surge of about 30,000 more troops is the reason.

The surge was controversial mainly because of loud opposition by Democratic leaders in Congress, who treated Gen. David Petraeus with contempt during hearings earlier this year. Those critics now are silent. In fact, the war also seems virtually to have disappeared as a campaign issue.

It may be too much to expect apologies from people such as Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., who told Petraeus in September that most "experts" agreed the surge had failed, and who dismissed the administration's pleas for patience. But it would be dishonest for those politicians not to recognize what many military experts now are saying — the surge has worked.

British forces over the weekend turned control of southern Basra over to Iraqi forces, which means the Iraqi government now controls half the nation. Violence across Iraq has fallen to its lowest levels since the U.S. invasion in 2003. Large numbers of Sunnis are joining the Iraqi security forces and turning on al-Qaida. Meanwhile, al-Qaida's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, released a videotape aimed at those "traitors" among the Sunnis who are turning to the Americans, a clear sign that the terrorists are in trouble.

All of this may take a while to fully sink in with a public that has been conditioned to hear nothing but bad news from Iraq. But the military successes over there need to begin informing the political debates over here heading into the primary election season.

To be sure, Iraq remains fragile and delicate. The administration now needs to perform expert diplomatic service as it persuades rival factions and ethnic groups to lay down their differences and coalesce into a solid government and a unique Iraqi society. Al-Qaida has not given up, nor has the surge guaranteed success.

But coalition forces are on a roll. Archaeologists have even recovered more than 1,000 ancient artifacts that can help replace some of the items U.S. forces shamefully allowed to be looted from the National Museum in 2003.

Americans of all political stripes ought to unite to find ways to keep the roll going.