But now that violence and casualties are on the uptick again, coverage of the war is once again all over the news.
To be sure, anytime the war worsens it's bad news. But the nature of this new round of fighting in Basra, Baghdad and the oil-rich south does carry with it a silver lining.
The bloody clashes are not between the rival Muslim factions of Shiites and Sunnis so much as it is between radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and Iraqi security forces, the latter comprised mostly of Shiites. Standing firmly behind his security forces is moderate Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who promises, "No retreat."
A cynic might say that Maliki is talking tough because he's got U.S. warplanes backing up his forces with air strikes in Basra, and Hellfire missiles and U.S. troops in Baghdad and elsewhere. An optimist would counter that Maliki -- who has always backed off from a fight with the anti-American, pro-Iranian al-Sadr -- is now taking him on, even in Sadr City, the radical cleric's stronghold. This is what started the latest round of violence.
Maliki's bold leadership should warrant an apology from those war critics, especially top Democrats, who denounced him as being too weak a leader to ever confront his fellow Shiites. But don't hold your breath.
Even so, there is no telling how the internal Shiite conflict will play out, or how it will affect the Sunnis and Kurds. What is known is that al-Sadr's months-long cease-fire and cooperation with what he calls "the forces of occupation" has virtually collapsed, not withstanding that the truce has not officially been called off, and he has indicated a willingness to renew negotiations.
The new round of violence is a jarring reminder, after months of calm, that there is still a war going on in Iraq, and much of it is being fueled by Iran's radical Shiite regime's close ties to al-Sadr.
Tehran's stirring of the pot is certainly designed to increase its influence, if not dominance, over Iraq after the "occupation forces" leave. And the sad truth is, if Iran's rulers can keep the violence going until November they may actually succeed.
There's no doubt that the regime's mad mullahs and their front man, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would prefer Americans elect a cut-and-run government than a tough and resolute one. Let's pray the voters disappoint them.