The Washington Post gives us all an earful today.

“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.”

This is both good and bad news. The good news is that they’re acknowledging that what they said before was wishful thinking wrapped up in powerful rhetoric to stir emotions and support. However, that’s also the bad news.

More bad news is that all of the sources for this story will only talk under condition of anonymity. That means they’re covering their asses. Of course the official company line will probably not own up to these things, but it’s almost too late for them not to. Once leaks like this starting appearing in the dam, the flood of information isn’t far behind. And that’s also why the messaging hasn’t been lining up as of late. I wrote about this just yesterday.

Now, is this article the end-all be-all? Absolutely not. But it’s telling because their are multiple anonymous sources on this one.

And let me offer that while there is a lot of “good” news out of Iraq, we all need to start accepting the realities on the ground. Whether you think the war was just or not, Iraq is going to be some sort of Islamic Republic and no amount of stories about troop movements or schools being built make that go away. And to be honest, the most important stories are ones like this because these talk about the lasting, over-arching effects of our involvement in the Middle East, which is why Bush & Co. went in to Iraq in the first place.

“We set out to establish a democracy, but we’re slowly realizing we will have some form of Islamic republic,” said another U.S. official familiar with policymaking from the beginning, who like some others interviewed would speak candidly only on the condition of anonymity. “That process is being repeated all over.”

U.S. officials now acknowledge that they misread the strength of the sentiment among Kurds and Shiites to create a special status. The Shiites’ request this month for autonomy to be guaranteed in the constitution stunned the Bush administration, even after more than two years of intense intervention in Iraq’s political process, they said.

I urge you to read the whole thing, absorb it and realize our credibility as a nation depends on being honest with ourselves about what can be achieved.

Politics Abandoning Iraq?