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Last year was the year of security in Iraq, a remarkable period of unmistakable and hugely encouraging progress in reducing violence. Of course, 2008 needs to a year for Iraqi political progress to reinforce that security trajectory. But just as much, it needs to be the year of the economy. With the security environment so much better, that is now possible.

We will only know how well we are doing and what further changes may be necessary, if we recognize the importance of economic trends — and become curious enough to study them with the same care and attention we devote to understanding Iraq’s violence.

Michael O’Hanlon is senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.