According to the WaPo, we can no longer expect the Iraq of the neocon's dreams; we'll have to settle for less:
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."
[ ... ]
"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."
[ ... ]
"There has been a realistic reassessment of what it is possible to achieve in the short term and fashion a partial exit strategy," Yaphe said. "This change is dictated not just by events on the ground but by unrealistic expectations at the start."
[ ... ]
Ironically, White said, the initial ambitions may have complicated the U.S. mission: "In order to get out earlier, expectations are going to have to be lower, even much lower. The higher your expectation, the longer you have to stay. Getting out is going to be a more important consideration than the original goals were. They were unrealistic."
I've pasted so much from the original article, mainly because I just don't know where to begin with this. (Go read the actual thing - there's a lot here I didn't include.)
We were sold the Iraq war primarily from the beginning as a search for WMDs and ties with al-Qaeda, both of which never materialized. Then the justification changed to, and as far as Bush defenders have been concerned is still, the liberation of the Iraqi people and the establishment of a "model democracy" in the Middle East, to inspire thoughts of democracy and freedom in the minds of people all over the region.
Now, NONE of it is true. No grand new model democracy, no free-market cornucopia of oil, not even a decent security situation for the Iraqis who have suffered through bombings, invasion and sanctions. Evidently the "pottery barn rule" has been amended to "We broke it, we can't fix it so we'll just sweep the piles of shards under the carpet and walk away slowly so as not to attract attention".
Those "unrealistic" ideas have driven us to invade and occupy a country that presented no threat to us, that was not involved in 9/11, that was all but defenseless. We have violated long-standing principles of non-agression, violated international law, violated American law.
Over eighteen hundred Anerican lives, tens of thousands of Iraqi lives (at the least), a devastated country, a new breeding ground for terrorism, the American world image trashed... for literally nothing, it now appears. Hope all of you who cheered this on so enthusiastically are REAL HAPPY now.