It is amazing that people actually believe that. For three years the Sunni's fought us because they thought they could take the country back once we left. We could have put 2 million troops in Iraq and that wouldn't have changed the Sunni mindset one bit.
To end the war, the Sunnis had to be convinced that they couldn't take the country back no matter whether we left in 6 months or 6 years. They didn't become convinced of that until after the Golden Mosque bombing in February of 2006. After that point, the Shiite death squads (with the tacit help of the Shiites in control of the military) went after the Sunnis in Baghdad proper and its suburbs. It took about 8 to 9 months of killing, but the Sunnis were finally convinced that they couldn't beat the Shiites in a straight-up fight. Only then did the Anbar Awakening happen.
Once the Anbar Awakening happened and Al Qaeda was deprived of its base of support, then the surge was put into in effect in March of 2007 and did wonders because we had the help of the Sunnis populace in tracking down and killing Al Qaeda.
Here are several links to articles that discuss what happened. First is a link to a quote by David Petraeus discussing how things were going reasonably well in Iraq until the Golden Mosque bombing in 2006.
[Petraeus] then reflected on the past strategy. For a variety of reasons, some pretty good reasons, we were gradually consolidating in larger bases and handing off to the Iraqis. The transition to Iraqi Security Forces, Iraqi control and local control was emphasized heavily. That was sort of moving along reasonably well until it was really undone by the bombing of that mosque and the resulting sectarian violence.
Second is a link to an article by Michael Totten discussing what was going on in Ramadi during 2006
Credit for purging Ramadi of Al Qaeda must go to Iraqis themselves at least as much as to the American military. The Americans wouldnt have been able to do it without the cooperation of the people who live there, and the Iraqis wouldnt have been able to do it, at least not so easily, without help from the American military.
Not only did Iraqi soldiers, police, and civilians join the fight, but also the lesser known local security force fielded by the Anbar tribal authorities.
Third is a link to a Bill Roggio article about the closure of the headquarters of the Association of Muslim Scholars. Here is the money quote:
Samarrai also stated the Association of Muslim Scholars was responsible for boycotting the elections and held back Sunnis from entering the security forces. Samarrai said these decisions led to a "catastrophe" for Sunnis and the Iraqi people.
The Association has been an obstacle in the way of entry of our sons (Sunnis) into the ranks of the Army and the police. ... [In] April 2005 more [than] 60 Iraqi clerics gathered and we published a fatwa (in favor of) joining the ranks of the Army and the police.
The Association's leaders announced on the television screens that the Association disavows this fatwa, and they took into account members of the Association who issued the fatwa with us. Because of this, tens of thousands of our people have been reluctant to volunteer in the ranks of the Army and the police. ... [This decision] upset the balance [and led to a] catastrophe.
The crackdown on the Association of Muslim Scholars is part of the efforts of Sunni scholars to delegitimize the religious support given to al Qaeda in Iraq and other radical Islamic extremist groups in Iraq. The creation of the Council of Iraqi Scholars, or Council of Ulema of Iraq, has led the way in alienating the radical clerics.
Lastly, I would note that with regard to the great work our military did prior to the surge - there was one factor that has not been widely discussed. Simply put, when Bob Woodruff was blown up by an Al Qaeada IED in early 2006 - that aided the war effort immensely. The reason is that after Woodruff got hurt, the MSM stopped sending cameramen into the war zone. The subsequent lack of nightly war footage enabled our troops to take the gloves off - as is discussed in the Michael Totten article.
Yes, Yes, Yes!!!! Rumsfeld will likely never get his due, but he was a brilliant Secretary of Defense. And Bush was and is a brilliant CIC.
As much as I absolutely LOATHE the New York Times, my hat is off to them for publishing this. It is more than advice for Afghanistan. It is a defense by Rumsfeld of his policies in Iraq. We are fighting a war of attrition, and in such encounters one wagers on the tortoise rather than the hare. Bush and Rumsfeld waited patiently until the time was right. In the interim, they made little headway militarily but my very strong sense is that in the interim we exacted a huge and ongoing toll on the enemy.
Thank goodness we did not station tens or hundreds of thousands of more soldiers there at the beginning. They would have done little incremental good (except to make for more targets and more friction) and they would have taxed our military greatly.
Yours: Lastly, I would note that with regard to the great work our military did prior to the surge - there was one factor that has not been widely discussed. Simply put, when Bob Woodruff was blown up by an Al Qaeada IED in early 2006 - that aided the war effort immensely. The reason is that after Woodruff got hurt, the MSM stopped sending cameramen into the war zone. The subsequent lack of nightly war footage enabled our troops to take the gloves off - as is discussed in the Michael Totten article.
You are RIGHT.
And this is also when the MSM tried "titillating" the masses with the assertion that the US Military were firing upon journalists.