If Rumsfeld had employed the surge strategy at the beginning of the war, the Republicans would be holding on to the Presidency and be in a much stronger position in the Congress. He blew it with the constant drip of bad news coming out of Iraq in 2005-2006.
Maybe, maybe not.
I’d argue that many Iraqis had to have their bloodletting before deciding that maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.
Germany and Japan were totally destroyed in achieving victory. The people no longer had the will to fight or hang on to the past and simply wanted peace. With Iraq it was gentler kinder war and the people were never really defeated and therefore wanted to settle old scores instead of peace.
The horror that followed is what made the difference. An earlier “surge” would have only postponed that lesson.
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.
I hold Rumsfeld in high regard and I think he was a very efficient Secretary of Defense. I also agree with his article save for his praise for Abizaid’s term. I think that Bremer, Abizaid and Sanchez appointments were mistakes. Having said all of this Iraq matters would be closed by 2006 if not for dems and media doing everything possible to ensure “Bush’s” defeat in Iraq.
My only problem with what you wrote was that if that was voiced during that time period, and even leading into the 2004 election, you stood a good chance of being run out of Free Republic Dodge for speaking heresay.
Such frank and honest talk would not have been tolerated.
Nobody knows that, not even you. Britain won World War II under the leadership of Churchill. What did the British people do after the war? They threw out Churchill and the Conservatives and in their place voted in Labor.
Waging a war is not like baking a cake: put in the ingredients according to measure, bake at the specified temperature and time, and out comes a perfect cake. Wars never go according to plan. There are always mistakes made in any war. It often takes time to find the right combination of strategy and tactics.
He blew it with the constant drip of bad news coming out of Iraq in 2005-2006.
Rumsfield did not control the news cycle. The media hated Bush and they hated his foreign policy because it involved waging war. The news media did what they could to bring defeat in Iraq just like they did in Viet Nam. And I might add it may be too early to declare victory in Iraq.