(CNN) -- Nearly 4,500 American soldiers lost and 32,000 wounded. A trillion dollars of borrowed money to remove Saddam Hussein and create an Iraq that would not only be safe from possessing weapons of mass destruction but also friendly toward the United States. These are the United States' heavy sacrifices in blood and treasure. One can be forgiven for expecting some Iraqi support for U.S. foreign policy aims in the region.
On Monday, the Iranian-backed prime minister of Iraq, Nuri al-Maliki, met with President Barack Obama at the White House to express his thanks for liberating Iraq from Hussein and discuss next steps. The frosty news conference afterward told us that all was not well. Tense, lacking in warmth and smiles and with public disagreement about Iraq's neighbor, Syria, the appearance did not reflect a productive meeting.
As the United States formally ends the almost nine-year war and nears the end of its troop withdrawal, there is still much at stake -- and it's not the relatively tiny Iraqi nation of 30 million people, but U.S. influence and foreign policy objectives in the region.
The Iraqi prime minister knows that his country, particularly his armed forces, is not yet ready to contain the probable outbreak of sectarian violence. And he wants U.S. financial expertise in developing Iraq's private sector. He made no secret of wanting greater U.S. assistance on both fronts. Iraq, under al-Maliki, is keen to receive U.S. help in countering terrorism and developing its economy. It seems perfectly legitimate, therefore, for the United States to express its own expectations from Iraq. But what is the Iraqi response?