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US Hands Baghdad to Iraqis

Given how much of the early years of OTB was devoted to writing about the war in Iraq, it wouldn’t do to fail to mention the fact that we have formally handed over control of Baghdad to the Iraqis, withdrawing our combat troops.  It was not at all long ago that the headline currently topping YahooNews, “Iraq takes control of security, US troops withdraw,” seemed a distant dream.

US General Daniel Bolger (L), commander of US forces in Baghdad shakes hands with General Abud Qambar, commander of Baghdad Operation Command, after handing him a symbolic key of the1st Cavalry Division at the old Iraqi Defence Ministry, the last of the 86 positions occupied by the US military in Baghdad since the US-led invasion in 2003, on June 29, 2009. US combat troops will pull out from Iraq's cities and main towns June 30 as the war-torn country takes sole charge of security in a major stepping stone to a complete American withdrawal.  AFP PHOTO / ALI AL-SAADI (Photo credit should read ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images)

US General Daniel Bolger (L), commander of US forces in Baghdad shakes hands with General Abud Qambar, commander of Baghdad Operation Command, after handing him a symbolic key of the1st Cavalry Division at the old Iraqi Defence Ministry, the last of the 86 positions occupied by the US military in Baghdad since the US-led invasion in 2003, on June 29, 2009. US combat troops will pull out from Iraq's cities and main towns June 30 as the war-torn country takes sole charge of security in a major stepping stone to a complete American withdrawal. AFP PHOTO / ALI AL-SAADI (Photo credit should read ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images.)

As to what it all means, Chris Dierkes nails it with a post I’ve republished (with permission) at New Atlantiicst under the title “Iraq Victory Achieved with Handover?” Suffice it to say, this is a “decent outcome” rather than a “victory” and we’ve got many miles to go before we know how it all turned out.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. E.D. Kain says:

    Indeed. Anyone who speaks of the eventual outcome in Iraq with any certainty is probably lying or deluded. Chris’s analysis is spot-on.

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  2. Wayne says:

    I’m sorry for getting off subject but I’m surprise no one has written anything about Honduras or the fact that Obama is backing a Castro like president. Imagine if we had a President who wanted to keep power and ignore our constitution, legal branch and legislator branch. How can Obama back such a person? Of course he backed the Dictators in Iran to. Change you can believe in.

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  3. Wayne says:

    One more thing, at this pace Obama will probably end up backing a dictator in Iraq by the time his term is over.

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  4. E.D. Kain says:

    Wayne – a dictator in Iraq is the only possible outcome. That’s what one gets when imposing democracy prior to the natural cultivation of the rule of law, cultural pluralism, etc. How could a non-dictator ever manage the disparate (and often violent) ethnic groups in Iraq? It’s not possible. Plan on a dictatorship; that’s exactly what would have happened under any U.S. President.

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  5. DL says:

    We’re out of Iraq? Did we use John Kerry’s secret plan or was it just our exit strategy the left was crying about?

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  6. [...] quite remarkable, really. As James Joyner says, the headline for the handover itself would’ve seemed like a dream not too long ago. But the [...]

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  7. Wayne says:

    E.D. I have to disagree with you. Dictatorship is simpler and easier form of government but no way the best. There are many if not most countries that have disparate (and often violent) ethnic groups that have found ways to live together including the U.S. However there is a naturally tendency to take the easy route and establish a dictatorship. It almost happened in the U.S. more than once.

    Iraq will take some effort to make sure they don’t. Unfortunately it is easier and often more politically convenient to allow a dictatorship to take hold. Unfortunately I think Obama will do what will help him politically over what is right.

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  8. Dave Schuler says:

    Actually, there was a post here about Honduras yesterday, Wayne. I solicited it from my fellow associate blogger here, Steven Taylor, who is a specialist in Latin American politics. I thought Dr. Taylor’s comments struck precisely the right tone, not getting beyond the known facts into partisan hatchet-wielding.

    I was holding off on my post on this milestone until tomorrow and I may write one yet. President Obama is carrying through with the policy formulated under President Bush. IMO it’s the best outcome for all parties under the circumstances.

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  9. An Interested Party says:

    I’m sorry for getting off subject but I’m surprise no one has written anything about Honduras or the fact that Obama is backing a Castro like president.

    So I guess that the governments of every other Latin American country, as well as Spain and France, among others, are all also dictator “supporters” because they too have condemned Zelaya’s forced removal?

    Of course he backed the Dictators in Iran to.

    Yes, who does the president think that he is, following in the footsteps of Reagan, who also backed dictators, by actually wanting to negotiate with the Soviets…

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  10. Mike says:

    Anyone want to take bets that we are at 100,000+ troops come next spring. Since the Iraqis are in charge of their security, i guess the troops will just be playing in the countryside. This is all symbolic but I would love to be proven wrong and bring them home next month.

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  11. steve says:

    Wayne-We developed our own democracy. We fought and died for it. We are trying to gift a democracy to Iraq. There is not much precedence for something like this happening in a country that was previously run by an dictator in an Islamic state. I do not think E.D. is saying a dictatorship is better, just that it is the highly probable outcome. By my readings, it looks as though Maliki has his heart set on becoming a slightly kinder and gentler Saddam. Prof. Joyner may disagree.

    Steve

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  12. Michael says:

    Imagine if we had a President who wanted to keep power and ignore our constitution, legal branch and legislator branch. How can Obama back such a person?

    So you’d rather have a military coup than a democratically elected President who wanted to extend his time in office?

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  13. Franklin says:

    Please excuse Wayne, he has Obama Derangement Syndrome. Plus he apparently can’t read.

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  14. Chadzilla says:

    Hey, side note – is NBC still calling this a civil war? I mean they had so much fanfare when they decided to label the situation in Iraq a civil war, but I’m drawing a blank as to when the civil war ended…and their equally big announcement of that. Anybody?

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  15. G.A.Phillips says:

    Hey, side note – is NBC still calling this a civil war? I mean they had so much fanfare when they decided to label the situation in Iraq a civil war, but I’m drawing a blank as to when the civil war ended…and their equally big announcement of that. Anybody?

    lol, how soon just like history do the liberals rewrite their own propaganda to fit their new motives……it’s called Evolution……

    Please excuse Wayne, he has Obama Derangement Syndrome.

    No, you have Obama Derangement Syndrome and so does Obama……

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  16. Wayne says:

    Sorry Dave I must have mess that post.

    I don’t consider the military carrying out the orders of Congress and the Supreme Court to oust a President that is breaking the law and ordering the military to break the law as a military coup. According to some here, if our President was impeach and remove from office and he refused to go resulting in him being forcibly removed, that would be a military coup?

    The ousted President didn’t even have support from his own party. What does it take for a legit ousting of a President?

    As for Iraq yes I agree that there is a fair danger of it ending in a dictatorship. I believe they have a better chance not to than many believe but only time will tell. Care need to be taken to avoid that.

    Many dictatorships have been acknowledged and supported by the U.N. No one has explain how Honduras following their laws and Constitution is wrong while a unlawful power grab by President is good.

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  17. An Interested Party says:

    Many dictatorships have been acknowledged and supported by the U.N. and the U.S.

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  18. Wayne says:

    “and the U.S.”

    Unfortunately I have to agree. Let us not repeat mistakes of the past. A dictator, who would or appears to help your agenda, will usually hurt you in the long run. A democracy may do things you don’t like at times but are generally better for you over all.

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  19. Wayne says:

    I should clarify that I understand that choosing one dictator over another is sometime necessary and government process foreign or domestic often take time and steps for process to work. I only wanted to caution against taking the easy instant gratification approach.

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  20. An Interested Party says:

    I only wanted to caution against taking the easy instant gratification approach.

    So when do we cut off relations with China…

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