Ah, the joys of working on a story until 2 a.m. and seeing the New York Times scoop me. Check out this memo, written by Col. Timothy Reese, a senior adviser to Iraqi security forces in Baghdad, saying U.S. commanders should "declare our intentions to withdraw all U.S. military forces from Iraq by August 2010." Not only under the SOFA are we restricted in significant ways from operating in Iraq, but there’s nothing else we can do for Iraqi security forces or governance:

The Iraqi military that Reese advises comes in for a withering assessment. Although he writes that the U.S. can be “justifiably proud” that the Iraqi military has “defeated the organized insurgency,” any opportunity for bequeathing Iraq a professional military free from a “Baathist-Soviet model” is “now long past,” and U.S. forces cannot change the situation by 2011. Reese criticizes the Iraqi military for “endemic” laziness, corruption, nepotism, mistreatment of enlisted soldiers, and worse. The Iraqi Ministry of Defense and its Baghdad Operations Command are untrustworthy, incompetent and unable to “stand up to Shiite political parties,” despite “all the fawning praise we bestow” on both organizations.

Reese’s assessment of Iraqi government performance is even harsher. He writes that reconciliation of the ruling Shiites with former Sunni insurgents and rejectionists is “at a standstill, and probably going backwards,” nor is there movement to resolve Arab-Kurdish tensions in the north. Corruption and incompetence in the ministries is “the stuff of legend,” with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s much-touted anti-corruption measures a mere “campaign tool.” Essential services like electricity still are unable to meet the needs of Iraqis, and the government does not take “rational steps” to improve them. “The general lack of progress in essential services and good governance is now so broad that it ought to be clear that we no longer are moving the Iraqis ‘forward,’” Reese writes.

We’ve got the whole memo on the Washington Independent, but Michael Gordon of the NYT has it too. Well played sir! I am legitimately scooped. And so this is Embrace’s "Building." Nothing seems to work out quite/the way I planned…