UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To return to your initial question, Christiane, of what impact does this have on the U.S., I think potentially devastating.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We walked into a Taliban ambush. Bullets are coming at us from three sides.
AMANPOUR: And in Afghanistan in October, the U.S. marked 10 years of war as the Obama administration announced it would start drawing down its forces.
In Iraq this week, the last American troops withdrew, ending nearly nine years of combat there with 4,500 Americans and more than 100,000 Iraqis dead, and at a cost of $800 billion. ABC's Martha Raddatz has been there throughout.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC REPORTER: All U.S. troops may be out of Iraq right now, but this does not really end the war for the Iraqis. And there is a very big threat of sectarian violence in Iraq and certainly the threat of Al Qaida. But the biggest question is what kind of influence Iran will have here.
AMANPOUR: And this week, the year ended with another dictator down. North Korean ruler Kim Jong Il's death added more uncertainty to the volatile Korean Peninsula.
And when we return we'll discuss these events that shaped our world with our roundtable. So stay with us.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back. It's been just over a year since the dawn of the Arab Spring, and the ripple effects are still churning the region and the world. Gone are many of the autocratic regimes of the Muslim world. Mubarak has been deposed, Gadhafi is dead. And what's sprouting is democracy, but also considerable uncertainty for the United States.
And that's where we begin our discussion today. Joining me at the table are Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and Robin Wright, senior fellow of the U.S. Institute of Peace and author of the new book, "Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World."
Thank you for being here. So let's go right into what's really excited everyone, and that is the Arab Spring. There are elections going on right now. Political Islam is rising to the fore. Is that necessarily something really scary, Richard?
RICHARD HAASS, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS PRESIDENT: Potentially. And so I disagree with two things you said, if I might. First is I wouldn't use the phrase "Arab Spring." Springs last for three months; this is going to last for three decades. Springs are good. This may not be.
Second of all, I don't think it's fair to say democracy is sprouting. What we've seen is the overthrow of some authoritarian regimes. We don't have the basics of democracy. We don't have civil society. We don't have constitutionalism, we don't have checks and balances. We'll only know if we have democracy again, years if not decades forward.
AMANPOUR: So that's the pessimistic viewpoint.
HAASS: Realistic, maybe.
AMANPOUR: You're absolutely right. All the institutions have yet to be enshrined. But political Islam was bound to be the first iteration, wasn't it?
ROBIN WRIGHT, AUTHOR AND U.S. INSTITUTE OF PEACE FELLOW: Well, I think, first of all, that the Arab uprisings are probably the most important story of the early 21st century in terms of changing the last block of countries, the world's most volatile corner, in a way that we saw elsewhere in the late 20th century.