Gates: Political Developments in Iraq Discouraging The Secretary of Defense acknowledged for the first time that the Bush administration might have misjudged the ability of Iraq's political leaders to bring about political reconciliation. It's a stark contrast to the administration's insistence that the "surge" will facilitate reconciliation.
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Gates: Political Developments in Iraq Discouraging

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Gates: Political Developments in Iraq Discouraging

Gates: Political Developments in Iraq Discouraging

Gates: Political Developments in Iraq Discouraging

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U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said the U.S. may have misjudged Iraq's political leader's ability to bring about reconciliation. Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images hide caption

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Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images

The Secretary of Defense acknowledged for the first time that the Bush administration might have misjudged the ability of Iraq's political leaders to bring about political reconciliation.

He says he's "optimistic" about the security situation in Iraq, saying it's improving. But he is "discouraged" at the lack of political progress, particularly in light of the departure of the largest Sunni bloc from the ruling Iraqi coalition.

The comments are a stark contrast to the administration's insistence that the "surge" will give Iraqi political leaders "breathing space" to reconcile.

Gates says he sees political progress on a local level, but, of course, local politics is not sectarian politics.

Could this be the opening salvo in a new approach toward "soft partition"?