07/23/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Iraq: The final countdown

On 30 June the last US troops will pull out of the Iraqi cities. America's great adventure in Iraq is ending. Already there are few US military patrols in Baghdad. The American-held area of the Green Zone, for long a forbidden city in the middle of the capital, has been squeezed in size. The hotel that Baghdad taxi drivers fondly believed was the headquarters of the CIA has removed the concrete wall protecting it and reopened for public business. The knowledge that all US military forces will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011 immediately reduces American influence in Iraq. No Iraqi wants to nail his flag to the mast of a departing ship, which is one reason why Washington for so long resisted setting a timetable for a US troop withdrawal.

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