Wish I could take credit for the headline but that belongs to James Poulos. And as irresistible as it is, in fairness to The One, it’s a bit of an overstatement: Obama, ever mindful of the political peril in premature celebration, took care to say that “The hard truth is we have not seen the end of American sacrifice in Iraq.” Even so, this is a rare chance for him to tout good news on the war front, particularly now that public discontent about Afghanistan is starting to spill over into his numbers on Iraq too. As of the end of August, and notwithstanding the fact that official Iraqi numbers say July was the deadliest month of attacks in two years, U.S. combat ops are finished and the age of Iraqi-run security begins. If only there was a government in place to oversee it…

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s chances of keeping his job suffered a setback Sunday when a coalition of Shiite parties that appeared to represent his best hope of staying in office broke off talks with his slate…

Both Maliki and Allawi claim the right to form the new government, citing conflicting interpretations of the constitution. Neither has found enough allies in parliament to secure the simple majority required to appoint the next prime minister…

Sunday’s political developments left Iraqi and American officials wondering how Maliki would respond.

“He can do unexpected things that are not even in his best interest when he’s cornered,” said an American official who advises the Iraqi government, speaking on the condition of anonymity to be more candid.

If one of those “unexpected things” involves, oh, say, sending Iraqi troops to arrest his political enemies, a move which would presumably send both the Sunnis and the opposition Shiites scrambling for their weapons, Obama’s going to have an awfully thorny decision to make about the next move for U.S. troops. Cross those fingers. In the meantime, consider his description of the mission going forward at the very end of the clip a sneak preview of what we’ll be doing in Afghanistan if/when the inevitable order to drawdown comes next year. In fact, we’re doing it already: Your must-read today is this NYT piece describing the success special ops have had using targeted raids against the Taliban and related jihadi outfits. That sort of counterterror scheme, rather than counterinsurgency, is what Biden was pushing for before Obama ordered the Afghanistan surge; what Biden may not have anticipated is that so many jihadi capos are allegedly being pinched that it might actually be pushing the Taliban towards the bargaining table. I’m skeptical, but since today’s “good news on the war” day, it’s a nice bookend for this post. Like I say, read it all.