There loom three possible threats: (a) a coup from a rising and relatively clean military disgusted with the corruption of civilian politicians — the familiar post-colonial pattern of the past half-century; (b) a strongman emerging from a democratic system (Maliki?) and then subverting it, following the Russian and Venezuelan models; or (c) the collapse of the current system because of a premature U.S. withdrawal that leads to a collapse of security.
Averting the first two is the job of Iraqis. Averting the third is the job of the United States. Which is why President Obama’s reaction to these remarkable elections, a perfunctory statement noting that they “should continue the process of Iraqis taking responsibility for their future,” was shockingly detached and ungenerous.
When you become president of the United States you inherit its history, even the parts you would have done differently.