Although Iraq held elections six months ago, its politicians still haven't agreed on a government with a prime minister. Its parliament is not meeting.
As a result, Iraqi citizens are not getting the public services they have a right to expect. The absence of a government also means that the alleged leaders of the country are prepared to ignore the choices voters made at the polls in March, showing them supreme contempt.
President Obama has reiterated his firm intention to complete the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. Still, it is embarrassing to the United States — and troubling to Iraq's future prospects for peace and prosperity — that Iraqi politicians continue to refuse the political compromises needed to form a government. They make American politicians look like models of reasonableness.
American officials have jumped into the Iraqi political logjam and proposed a reasonable compromise. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has refused to acknowledge his coalition's loss in the elections, would remain in power but have his authority diminished. He would be obliged to share power with a coalition that would include representatives from Iraqi groups other than his Shiite followers.
The problem with this solution to the no-government issue is that it is an American solution, not an Iraqi product. That probably means that many Iraqis will oppose it.
The United States could impose its idea. It still has 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, following a seven-year occupation. But if it tries to do so, the compromise will truly be doomed.
Iraqis leaders still need to work this one out for themselves. Washington should keep out.