This is an extraordinary and biting analysis: http://www.slate.com/id/2090852/ The assumption that events will conform to a preconceived model is a failing to which neoconservatives are notably vulnerable. Part of this may be Marxist residue that never quite washed off. The intellectual descendants of Trotskyists, the neocons find the idea of revolution from above, in which intellectuals and ideas play the crucial role, instinctively appealing. Many neocons also tend to buy into overly deterministic, Hegelian theories of history (see Fukuyama, Frank). In this sense, the assumption that Iraq was destined to become a liberal democracy with just a nudge from the United States is an error akin to Jeanne J. Kirkpatrick's Hannah Arendt-inspired view that Communist totalitarian societies could never reform from within. There was nothing wrong with that theory either, except that it happened to be completely wrong. Another reason the neocons go for grand theories may be that their primary experience tends to come from the classroom, rather than the real world. Colin Powell, who took fire in Vietnam, has a visceral sense of what happens when a military engagement turns sour that those who served out the war at the University of Chicago may lack. What's more, few neoconservatives have cultivated a deep appreciation or understanding of other cultures—unless you count the Athens of Pericles or Machiavelli's Florence. Back during the 2000 campaign, George Will and others argued that presidential intelligence didn't matter. This notion was reinforced after Sept. 11, when it became fashionable to argue that Bush's "moral clarity" was preferable to the ability to comprehend many sides of a complicated issue. In fact, presidential intelligence does matter. The intellectual qualities Bush lacks—historical knowledge, interest in the details of policy, and substantive (as opposed to political) judgment—might well have prevented the quagmire we're facing in Iraq right now. A more engaged president—one who understood, for instance, the difference between the Sunnis and the Shiites—surely would have asked about Plan B.