As Republicans are setback in an election drubbing , with reduced numbers in the house and senate and evicted from the White House, they are left with a need to reorganize and reenergize.
To do so they must asses what went wrong.
To ascertain that ,we must look to when things started to unravel. It is easy to see that the midterm elections of 2006 were the first indication of the end to the GOP’s political preeminence . That is when they lost control of both the senate and the house of representatives. But that was not the beginning of their decline. The beginning of Republican decline took place well before the electorate made that determination. It actually began late in 2005. That is when the war in Iraq seemed to get bogged down. That is when Americans began to lose confidence in our efforts and wonder how long, how long would it go on before we need not sacrifice more of our young men and women. How long would we have to invest our citizens lives , our nations time and our taxpayer dollars in a foreign land. That is when the war effort began to lose support and when liberals had an opening for their message of change. It is also where Republicans lost control of the agenda.
Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld had been advocating what was called a “light footprint”. It was a strategy that intended to minimize the role of the American forces in Iraq while building up Iraqi security forces . However after Iraq held it’s first free elections in 2005 and created a democratic government, a new problem was taking hold, it was the resurgency of extremists who sort to undo what America achieved.
By early 2006 the resurgency was creating the opposite effect of what Americans wanted….a quick end to fighting in Iraq. Behind closed doors, as the weariness of the war was setting into the American psyche, President Bush equivocated and hesitated to throw more troops into the Iraqi theater. He knew that the vocal left would get even louder if he were to call for throwing more American lives into battle. But it was already too late. The Rumsfeld light foot strategy had allowed resurgents the opportunity to wreak havoc in Iraq.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had been advocating for more troops in Iraq. It was a strategy called “clear, hold and build”. It was also the same strategy that Senator John McCain called for.
Clear, hold and build was successfully used by Col. H.R. McMaster in the Iraqi city of Tal Afar. The strategy called for door to door operations that cleared insurgents from the city along with an ongoing troop presence in each neighborhood that was cleared. Once this was achieved residents felt secure, and U.S. troops were able to begin rebuilding there. Wherever this strategy was conducted, it worked. The resurgents were gone and our continued presence there, prevented them from returning. As a result, citizens no longer lived in fear and life began to flow unimpeded by terror and violence. To carry out clear, hold and build, more troops were required. But increasing the number of troops was not something the administration wanted to advocate for. Although it was required in order to successfully carry out clear, hold, build the administration was afraid of the reaction to such a call.
Despite the success of clear, hold and build, the administration succumbed to pressure from Democrats and the weariness of Americans to throw more into an effort that they wanted over and done with.
Ultimately the logic of Secretary of State Rice’s “clear, hold, build” position prevailed. Rumsfeld was forced out and replaced as Secretary of Defense and the President decided to oppose the polls and do what was in our best interest. The clear, hold, build strategy was adopted as President Bush enacted what we now call “the surge”.
But in the time that it took for President Bush to accept “the surge”, Democrats successfully won favor in the eyes of the public. They exploited Americans weariness for continued conflict and used the increased violence, that was resulting in Iraq due to resurgent extremists, as a call for withdrawal from Iraq. They successfully made people believe that this was not our war and that we had no reason to be there any longer. The argument was wrong. The stabilization of Iraq was and is crucial not only to Iraq but to the middle east, our own national security and to the war on terror. At this point in time, failure in Iraq, would have led to the creation of a haven for terrorist and a breeding ground for potential threats. But Republicans lost the upper hand with Democrats on the arguments made the American people.
That was the beginning of the unraveling of Republican superiority in government. The fact that President Bush did not accept lessons from previous wars and realize that if we are going to enter into a conflict, we must throw everything we have to into it. If President Bush enacted the surge in late 2005 or early 2006, we would have avoided the escalation of the terrorist resurgence that we saw at that time and leading into 2007.
The lesson here is to never hesitate throwing the full force of our military into the military actions that we undertake. If we are not willing to put all that we have into an action than we are not willing to win. If we are not willing to win than there is no reason to fight.
On the debate front, the timidity of Republicans worried about a war weary populous, prevented them from effectively engaging Democrats and denouncing their calls for withdrawal. They backed away from the tough work needed to counter the liberal propaganda that exploited the vulnerability made by George Bush’s hesitance to call for a surge. In the end it cost them control of Congress as November, 2006 approached.