ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES — Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates acknowledged Thursday that the Bush administration underestimated the difficulty of getting a political truce in Iraq, where Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government has been crippled by a walkout by Sunni Arab ministers.
Gates said he was optimistic about military progress in several Iraqi regions, particularly Al Anbar, a western province that was once a haven for insurgents.
But he said he was discouraged by the Shiite-dominated government's inability to reach a compromise to pass legislation aimed at reconciling the country's ethnic and sectarian groups. Reaching such political agreements, a central goal of the troop buildup strategy, may still be a long way off, he said.
"I just think in some ways we probably all underestimated the depth of the mistrust and how difficult it would be for these guys to come together," Gates said.
I can only assume that when he says “we probably all underestimated the depth of the mistrust” he is referring to the Bush Administration or the neocons, because there certainly were a lot of people who were predicting exactly this inability of the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds to work together to form a stable democracy before the United States invaded, overthrew the government, disbanded the army, and occupied the country. If you are having trouble remembering those predictions perhaps you do remember the neocons’ response to them. They were saying these objections to an invasion of Iraq must come from people who thought that the Arabs did not 'deserve' democracy or were not 'ready' for democracy.
Of course, the accurate predictions of the chaos we are now seeing were not based on ideology or prejudice, as were the rosy predictions of the neocons. The accurate predictions, as is usually the case, were based on knowledge of the region and its history. As is clear from everything the American neocons said they were ignorant of this history. And we all know what happens to those ignorant of history.