Just before Christmas, the last combat troops arrived home from Iraq to a joyous welcome by friends and family. Every one of them was, no doubt, very glad to be home. They left behind a country vastly changed by eight years of conflict - infinitely better in many ways, but with a future never more in doubt.
I'm not so concerned about the wave of new violence being reported in Iraq in the wake of the U.S. pullout. That was to be expected as the remnants of the Iranian-supported insurgency make a bid to fill the power vacuum left by our departure.
What is more dangerous is the power struggles taking place in the highest echelons of the Iraqi government. Iraqi President Nouri Al-Maliki might be the democratically elected president of the country, but he's beset by infighting within his administration and, as some reports attest, he's having major trouble bringing together the varied tribal factions that make up his country.
The truth is, though Maliki himself called for the Americans to leave, and the Obama administration is busy congratulating itself on "ending" the war in Iraq, the Maliki government has a long way to go before Iraq will be on anybody's list of tourism hot spots. And as our president may soon discover, ending the war is not the same as winning it.
History may very well record that Barack Obama presided over the snatching of defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq.