Dreams of Dough Turn to 'D'oh!'

U.S. officials prick a trial balloon on Iraq before launching it

The parade's gone by

The Iraq crusade must be nearly over. Having done our damage, we're even changing our tune, according to Sunday morning's front-page Washington Post story "U.S. Lowers Sights On What Can Be Achieved in Iraq."

It would have been much more powerful if Robin Wright and Ellen Knickmeyer had quoted a named official, but the quote this crack duo got is pretty fucking incredible. And their lead-in to it is superbly droll:

    The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

    "What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."

Yeah, no shit. How many thousands of people have been saying this since before day one of the unjustified invasion of Iraq? We're not going to be controlling Iraq's rich reserves of oil. Halliburton's days of milking the country will eventually come to an end. We're squeezing out more blood than oil.

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You can't give the suckers all the bad news at once. Whether this was really a trial balloon or not, the Bush regime will have to prepare the country for a letdown, hoping that this will ease the GOP into and out of next year's congressional elections without too much damage.

I'm not taking anything away from Wright and Knickmeyer. They take the understated approach, and it's effective:

    The realities of daily life are a constant reminder of how the initial U.S. ambitions have not been fulfilled in ways that Americans and Iraqis once anticipated. Many of Baghdad's 6 million people go without electricity for days in 120-degree heat. Parents fearful of kidnapping are keeping children indoors.

    Barbers post signs saying they do not shave men, after months of barbers being killed by religious extremists. Ethnic or religious-based militias police the northern and southern portions of Iraq. Analysts estimate that in the whole of Iraq, unemployment is 50 percent to 65 percent.

The Iraq adventure never had a chance. No close shave for the neocons. Just lots of stubble and rubble.

To read a New York Times story on Iraq that's this good, you have to leave its front page. Yesterday, you could have turned to Frank Rich for this screed:

    Like the Japanese soldier marooned on an island for years after V-J Day, President Bush may be the last person in the country to learn that for Americans, if not Iraqis, the war in Iraq is over. "We will stay the course," he insistently tells us from his Texas ranch. What do you mean we, white man?

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