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The Latest from Iraq

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"The Latest from Iraq"

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File-Nouri_al-Maliki_with_Bush,_June_2006,_cropped 1

Apparently we’re trying to diminish the powers of the prime minister‘s office as a way of greasing the skids of coalition:

American officials said that the approach, which aims to bring Mr. Maliki’s State of Law party, Ayad Allawi’s Iraqiya party and the Kurdish alliance into a governing coalition, represents the best chance to break the political logjam that has left the Iraqi public without a new government six months after voters went to the polls.

So what stands in the way?

Doubts remain whether the Americans can close the deal and, meanwhile, Iran has stepped up its efforts to press an alternative coalition in which Mr. Maliki might remain prime minister but in a coalition with his Shiite rivals and not Mr. Allawi. Which coalition prevails will serve as a barometer on whether Iran or the United States has more prestige in an unsettled and still turbulent country.

If it would stabilize the country, why not just give our blessing to the Iran-preferred coalition. Is having “prestige” in Iraq such a valuable commodity? And if our switcheroo sealed the deal for that coalition, wouldn’t it preserve our “prestige” anyway? International competitions are often pursued as if winning is an end in and of itself, but it’s not.

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