One wonders if The Washington Post is really willing to carry the water for the administration into yet another stage of the US war in Iraq, or if their editorial page is running on some sort of perverse auto pilot. After editorials like these, in which they all but declare Iraq a victory and admonish Democrat Barack Obama for not getting with the program, they return today with a mouthful of administration talking points about the need for Bush to plow through a long-term security agreement with the Maliki government before the November elections.

Not only does WaPo wag another finger at Obama, but it equates the concerns of all critics, particularly Democratic Sen. Jim Webb, with those of Iranian mullah Ayatollah Khamenei. The paper baldly ignores Webb’s honest apprehension that the administration will lock the military into a colonial situation in Iraq, and diminishes the wave of protests in the country over the very prospect that kind of relationship is being forged under Bush before he leaves office (I erroneously reported on this blog that the UN resolution currently permitting foreign operations in Iraq expires in July. In fact, it expires at the end of the year; it is Bush that wants a deal struck by July 31).

The editors practically ignore Maliki’s signal that negotiations are at a “dead end” and say “much of the controversy over the negotiations is based on misinformation, some of it spread by Iran’s proxies in Iran.”

Who says? US officials?

The editors also roll their eyes at “claims that the deals would perpetuate the US ‘occupation’.” In fact, the editors assert, “they would be a major step in he opposite direction, by placing American troops under the sovereignty of the Iraqi government rather than the United Nations.” Again, who says?

All recent reports, which quote unnamed sources, say the now-stumped and very secret negotiations have indeed produced some compromises by the Bush Administration, particularly over holding American contractors accountable to Iraqi law, and control over detainees. However, the major impasse apparently continues over who would control future combat operations on Iraqi soil. This seems to be the most obvious difference between Iraq and the current long-term security agreements the US has with Korea and Japan that WaPo and Republican John McCain like to wax authoritatively about: there are no US-led combat operations Korea and Japan. And there aren’t roiling protests in the streets to ensure we don’t continue our presence there long-term.

After the Message Force Multiplier scandal in which, like many news outlets, WaPo stepped in the dungheap of mistruth big time, it’s strange and disappointing that the newspaper would risk putting itself in the same position again. Especially when the need for honest, clear-headed and detailed foreign policy analysis has never been more critical.