A Nation Adrift

The ultimate consequences of the bombing of the Shia Muslim shrine in Samarra, and the subsequent retaliatory killings that took more than a thousand lives of mostly Sunni Arabs, are unclear. Presumably, the bombers hoped to precipitate an outright civil war. So far, Iraqis have backed away from that abyss.

There are good reasons why. A civil war between Iraq’s Sunni and Shiite populations would draw Iran into the conflict on...

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