[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/01/19/iraq.violence/art.iraq.gi.jpg caption="A U.S. soldier plays with a boy Monday while on patrol in Babil province, Iraq."]
CNN National Security Analyst
What should President Obama do to build on what is widely acknowledged to be Iraq's fragile peace?
As Obama has frequently observed, the United States needs to be "as careful getting out of Iraq as it was careless getting in" because, unlike the case of Vietnam, the United States has substantial strategic interests in Iraq.
The country sits on the world's second largest oil reserves, is close to Israel, plays a lynchpin role in regional stability in a part of the world that sets global energy prices, and its reversion into a failed state would be a prelude to al Qaeda regrouping there.
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