On Thursday morning, local time in Iraq, the Fourth Stryker Brigade, Second Infantry Division, crossed into Kuwait — the last U.S. combat brigade to be pulled out of Iraq. The war that began seven years ago with the previous administration’s “shock and awe” ends now with the current administration’s mission to “advise and assist.” That is how President Obama describes the new role for the 50,000 American troops who will remain there until 2011.
You may hear those words, “advise and assist,” but you’re not likely to hear the word “victory” when officials talk about Iraq these days. To help us evaluate what’s been achieved, and what still hangs in the balance in Iraq, Need to Know talks with Middle East scholar and history professor at the University of Michigan, Juan Cole. He writes the widely read blog Informed Comment, and is author of “Engaging the Muslim World.”