WaPo reports The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States will have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad.
Who are your sources?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.
We have been at it for over 200 years, and I don't think anyone considers that we have a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, but we do have a society which tries to provide them security, and allows them to try to meet their own economic challenges"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."
I believe that you are confusing senior officials of our government with the wishes of left wingers working for the Washington Post (or possibly associated with the previous administration)Administration officials still emphasize how much they have achieved despite the chaos that followed the invasion and the escalating insurgency. "Iraqis are taking control of their country, building a free nation that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself. And we're helping Iraqis succeed," President Bush said yesterday in his radio address.
Now that sounds like you are really quoting someone from this administration.Iraqi officials yesterday struggled to agree on a draft constitution by a deadline of tomorrow so the document can be submitted to a vote in October. The political transition would be completed in December by elections for a permanent government.
That sounds like a success to me.But 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.
And we have rebuilt their electrical system a couple of times, and they are blown up by either Saddam loyalists or outsiders wanting to prevent an Iraqi Democracy.James Joyner blogged The Washington Post this morning fronts a long piece by Robin Wright and Ellen Knickmeyer with reports from unnamed officials who say the U.S. has lowered its aims in Iraq from a thriving democracy to an Islamist republic that can grow into a democracy one day. There's little question that the administration made some major miscalculations in the planning for the post-Saddam part of this war. The scope and nature of the so-called "insurgency"--mostly, the massive influx of foreign terrorists--was grossly underestimated.
Still, one must not confuse "hopes" with "goals." A political system with legitimate popular sovereignty emerging in Iraq would by the end of 2005 would have been simply unthinkable when President Bush took office. The number of people, even among the senior levels of the Bush Administration or on the editorial board of The Weekly Standard, who thought Iraq would be Switzerland-on-the-Euphrates by now was miniscule.
But if the Dems cant make people think that was the objective, then they can't say that GWB failed to achieve his objective.The United States, which was founded well over two centuries ago by people raised in the Western tradition and with leaders who were on the cutting edge of Enlightenment thinking, is nonetheless in many ways a Christian republic. Yes, we have a strong tradition of religious tolerance and an ever-growing "wall of separation" thanks to the 1st Amendment and decades of judicial rulings. Nonetheless, it is undeniable--even to non-theists such as myself--that Christianity is a cornerstone of our public policy to this day.
It would be inconceivable, really, that an Iraq where people were free to vote their preferences into law would not emerge with Islam as at least a nominal part of the constitution and as part of the fabric of governance. "Islamic republic" is not synonymous with "theocracy." There is no indication in this report or any other that I've seen that Iraq will be ruled by the mullahs at the end of the day.
Similarly, the United States began as a confederation and moved into a looser federation as the need arose. And, despite having much more in common and much less history of acrimony than the three major Iraqi factions have had, we nonetheless had a bloody civil war four score and seven years into the American Experiment and maintain substantial regional autonomy to this day. That the Kurds and Shiites would want the same was predictable. Beyond that, it is a desirable outcome in that it is likely the only chance for the longer term survival of "Iraq" as an intact entity.
So, I disagree with Jeralyn Merritt that this constitutes "f-a-i-l-u-r-e." Democratic politics entails compromise. Even in war, absent subjugation following unconditional surrender--something we surely would not have wanted in Iraq given our long term goals--one can not impose one's preferences entirely.
Jason Van Steenwyk blogged The Washington Post today turns to anonymous sources to publish the World's Biggest, Fattest straw man. Excuse me, but just who was out there expecting Iraq to generate a whole bunch of Jeffersonian small-"D" democrats and mini Thomas Paines? Can you name them for me? I'm at a loss. Geez. Just when in the history of political science has a constitutional convention NOT "struggled to agree?" But, you know, is it too much to ask that the editors of the Washington Post check the newswires? If they had, they would see that President Talabani expects that the convention will reach a full agreement tomorrow, one day ahead of schedule. There's nothing wrong with Iraqis wanting a strong muslim influence on their republic. I mean, Saddam Hussein's regime was secular, and look how friendly to U.S. interests he was.