The real story of America’s withdrawal from Iraq is how little impact it has really had on either Iraq or the region. There are even signs that the withdrawal has helped to nudge Iraqis onto the right path, though not as quickly or directly as I might have hoped. This month’s death toll was the lowest on record since the 2003 invasion, while Iraqi oil exports are at their highest level since 1980. Baghdad successfully hosted an Arab Summit meeting, which may have done little for Syria but did go further to bring Iraq back into the Arab fold than anything since 2003. Maliki’s jousting with his domestic foes and efforts to balance Iraq’s ties with Tehran with improved Arab relations are what needs to happen for Iraq to regain a semblance of normality. It isn’t pretty, and probably won’t be any time soon, but there’s absolutely no reason to believe that it would look any better with American troops still encamped in the country. Thus far, Obama’s risky but smart gamble to end the U.S. military presence in Iraq is paying off.