| A troubling milestone arrived on Thursday when the US withdrew its final
combat brigade from Iraq. The remaining 50,000 US forces are charged with
advising and training the Iraqi military. US President Barack Obama has pledged
to withdraw them as well by the end of next year.
When US- led allied forces
invaded Iraq seven years ago, their action raised the hopes and incited the
dreams of millions throughout the region and throughout the world. Operation
Iraqi Freedom promised to bring the light of liberty to a corner of the world
that had known none. By doing so, it would inspire and enable men and women
throughout the region to believe that they too could be free.
But as the last US combat
brigade departed on Thursday, the Iraq they left behind was not an Arab shining
city on an Iraqi hill. The Iraq they withdrew from has no government. The
post-March 7 elections coalition talks are hopelessly deadlocked. Iraqi Prime
Minister Nouri al-Maliki has agreed to serve as the head of a caretaker
government for now and take no major decisions about Iraq's future. In a word,
Iraq suffers from governmental paralysis.