Embattled Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki agreed to step aside in Baghdad yesterday in favor of rival Haider al-Abadi. The move shows that Iraq’s political system may still be able to function, at least to some extent.When Maliki deployed troops and vowed to hold on to power at all costs on Sunday, it looked like the beginning of a coup. But after a four-day standoff, the Prime Minister was shuffled out by persuasion and pressure rather than bullets.Iraq’s politics are far from settled, and ISIS remains an imminent threat, but the pressure brought to bear indicates that Iraq’s political and social institutions, particularly among the Shi’a, are not so broken as has been reported. Despite another week of chaos, the Iraqis still managed to accomplish a peaceful transfer of power.All of this makes us wonder what would have happened had the Obama administration been able to complete a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and keep American troops in Iraq after 2011. America’s most successful nation-building exercises—the occupation of Germany and Japan after the second World War—were prolonged and a lot messier than most people think. What might have happened had the U.S. had stayed engaged in Iraq?