Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, returning from a four-day trip to the Middle East, offered a pessimistic view of Iraq's political progress Thursday, saying he thought that the United States had underestimated the level of distrust between the Shiite Muslim-led government and other ethnic groups.And when I say Gates is intellectually intact I don't mean very intact. He equates the Iraq political environment to the US constitutional convention.
In addition, Gates sees bright spots in the possibility that the US may be able to create new little Saddam's in Anbar province:
Iraq is falling apart but there's always some little light somewhere that can be protected and inflamed.
However, he said that Sunni provincial leaders in once-restive Anbar province had been reaching out to the U.S. military, which had led to a drop in violence
"The developments at the local level, I think, are more encouraging than I would have expected three or four months ago," he said.