Withdrawal Symptoms

The Bungling of the Iraq Exit

This way out: leaving Iraq, December 2011. Lucas Jackson / Reuters

In a speech at Fort Bragg on December 14, 2011, President Barack Obama declared that the U.S. military would soon depart Iraq, ending one of the longest wars in American history. The United States, Obama said, would leave behind “a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.” Four days later, the last U.S. military unit crossed from Iraq into Kuwait, and American armed forces transferred all their responsibilities to either the central government of Iraq, U.S. Central Command, or the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, completing the most complex handoff from military to civilian authorities in U.S. history.

The next day, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki -- who since 2006 had sought to enhance his personal interests and those of Shiite religious parties at the expense of Iraq’s Kurds and Sunni Arabs -- secured an arrest warrant for Iraq’s

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