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Outgoing Commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq Greneral Raymond Odierno (2nd R) is applauded after his speech during the U.S. Forces-Iraq change of command ceremony between Odierno and Lieutenant General Lloyd Austin September 1, 2010 in Baghdad, Iraq. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L), U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (2ndL) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen (3rdL) look on. The military ceremony signaled a formal end to combat operations in Iraq after seven years of war that claimed more than 4,400 American lives.
President Obama addressed the nation from the Oval Office last night, marking the end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq. Fifty thousand American troops will remain as support for Iraqi security forces. As a candidate, Obama promised to quickly draw down troops in Iraq and reengage the better fight in Afghanistan, and he has done precisely that. Yet, has U.S. involvement in Afghanistan been any more productive than in Iraq? Has either war been worth it? Will we ever in good conscience be able to say “mission accomplished”?
Steven A. Cook, PhD, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of “Ruling But Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey” (2007). He directed the Council-sponsored Independent Task Force on U.S. policy toward reform in the Arab world and is currently writing a book on Egyptian politics and the future of U.S.-Egypt relations.
Larry Goodson, Ph.D, Professor of Middle East Studies in the Department of National Security and Strategy at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA