"Facing the 'Dark Assessment'" at Firedoglake:
Weâ€™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 weâ€™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 communityâ€™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 Presidentâ€™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 â€œthe dark assessmentâ€ 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 harmâ€™s way â€“ 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 pandoraâ€™s box in the first place.