Daniel Berrigan

Daniel Berrigan

Jim Dwyer, "Remembering Daniel Berrigan: A Penniless, Powerful Voice for Peace" (New York Times)

John Nichols, "Father Daniel Berrigan Sought to ‘Build a World Uncursed by War, Starvation, and Exploitation’" (The Nation)

"‘We Seek to Open the Eyes of Our Friends’: Daniel Berrigan in the Pages of Commonweal" (Commonweal)

Paul Elie, "Postscript: Daniel Berrigan, 1921-2016" (New Yorker)

Nathan Schneider, "When Dan Berrigan Came to 'Occupy'" (America: The National Catholic Review)

One Hundred Years in Iraq

Hendrik Hertzberg in The New Yorker:

The most interesting exchange came at the very end, and it was about Iraq. The money quote—the bit that could come back to haunt McCain—went like this:

Q: President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for fifty years.

McCain: Make it a hundred.

That’s the sound bite. That’s the headline. Now let’s look at the context, which I think is worth considering in full. . . .

The Dark Assessment

Iraq scene in Second Life

"Facing the 'Dark Assessment'" at Firedoglake:

We’ve had an extraordinary week of leaked candor about the catastrophic state of US foreign policy under the Bush/Cheney regime, predictably followed by Presidential denials that al Qaeda is back and blatant propaganda that we’re making "satisfactory" progress on the few Iraq benchmarks that are virtually meaningless. The White House, which has always confused inflexible standards and testing with genuine education and wisdom, has been reduced to giving out report cards on itself that translate to "improvement needed" on everything that really matters.

But the reality based assessments dominated the news. First it was the intelligence community’s pre-denial assessment that al Qaeda has been allowed to regroup along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to become as threatening as ever, both for Europe and possibly the US. The obvious conclusion is that the President’s six year global war on terror is not only an abject failure but a growing threat to our security.

Then there were the pre-spin reports about the virtual absence of any meaningful progress in achieving the objectives of the US troop surge. And Thursday Bob Woodward released his history of intelligence briefings the CIA gave the Iraq Study Group last fall, briefings that revealed what Condi Rice described as “the dark assessment” that security conditions had so deteriorated as to be “irretrievable,” while the al Maliki government was so inherently ineffectual, that there was virtually nothing the US could do to make things turn out right in Iraq. That sobering assessment was reaffirmed this week by Stephen Biddle’s op-ed explaining why the only realistic but unavoidably awful choices had narrowed to "go deep" or "get out," since staying the course had become increasingly untenable and morally dubious.

We are left with the unspoken and unspeakable conclusion that the real rationale for keeping so many U.S. soldiers in harm’s way – in the middle of Iraq's irreconcilable sectarian and civil wars — is that they serve as our national punishment for the inexcusable blunder our government made in invading and occupying Iraq and opening this pandora’s box in the first place.

CIA, Eight Months Ago: Iraq Regime Failure “Irreversible”

Bob Woodward in the Washington Post, July 12, 2007:

Early on the morning of Nov. 13, 2006, members of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group gathered around a dark wooden conference table in the windowless Roosevelt Room of the White House.

For more than an hour, they listened to President Bush give what one panel member called a "Churchillian" vision of "victory" in Iraq and defend the country's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. "A constitutional order is emerging," he said.

Later that morning, around the same conference table, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden painted a starkly different picture for members of the study group. Hayden said "the inability of the government to govern seems irreversible," adding that he could not "point to any milestone or checkpoint where we can turn this thing around," according to written records of his briefing and the recollections of six participants.

"The government is unable to govern," Hayden concluded. "We have spent a lot of energy and treasure creating a government that is balanced, and it cannot function."

Later in the interview, he qualified the statement somewhat: "A government that can govern, sustain and defend itself is not achievable," he said, "in the short term."

Hayden's bleak assessment, which came just a week after Republicans had lost control of Congress and Bush had dismissed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, was a pivotal moment in the study group's intensive examination of the Iraq war, and it helped shape its conclusion in its final report that the situation in Iraq was "grave and deteriorating."

In the eight months since the interview, neither Hayden nor any other high-ranking administration official has publicly described the Iraqi government in the uniformly negative terms that the CIA director used in his closed-door briefing.