by Austin Bay
October 15, 2008
In a month Iraq will be the next president?s
From the American perspective the next president?s phase of the Iraq War
will be twofold. First off, it will be a proxy war with Iran?s tyrannical
mullahs. The second ?fold? will be even more strategically significant: The next
president?s war will measure America?s commitment to defending democracy and
promoting genuine international security in the 21st century.
The Iraqi perspective differs a shade. Iraq?s war will be yet another
Iran-Iraq War, but one where the Iraqis will have an organizational advantage
and a significant ideological edge.
Iraq?s organizational advantage has two components. First and foremost
Iraq engages Iran with the U.S. as an active ally -- unless the next U.S.
president proves feckless and makes the inexcusably stupid mistake of denying
Iraq American diplomatic and military support in a
Iraq?s second organizational advantage is its increasingly capable
military and more responsive government.
The Iraqis point to Operation Charge of the Knights as their first in a
series of successful security operations signaling their new capabilities and
confidence. Launched in late March, Charge of the Knights targeted Shia militias
(like Muktada Sadr?s Mahdi Army), criminal gangs, and the ?Special Groups? that
are really guerrilla bands sponsored by Iran. Follow-on operations have reduced
terrorist violence and crime, which senior officials point out are closely
U.S. forces are already moving to support roles. This week U.S. Marine
Corps Major General John Kelly, coalition forces commander in Anbar province,
said, ?There are still 27,000 U.S. troops in the province, but they are on
"Overwatch" is military lingo for protecting your friends while they
maneuver and fight. At the tactical level, as one soldier moves and exposes
himself, another "covers" him (overwatches), prepared to fire a burst from his
rifle to suppress enemy troops shooting at the exposed soldier. In Anbar
Province, U.S. forces have assumed ?operational-level overwatch.? If an Iraqi
army commander finds his troops in a tough firefight, he can quickly request
help from a U.S. ground unit.
At the strategic level, allied nations "cover" one another. Strategic
overwatch in the U.S.-Iraq relationship includes deterring Tehran?s
The next president will be tested by these robed thugs. The mullahs?
nuclear quest continues and the next president must thwart that quest. The
mullahs will make trouble in Lebanon and stir conflicts throughout the Middle
East and Central Asia (e.g. Afghanistan and
However, Iraq will be the central battle front with Tehran, militarily,
diplomatically and morally.
Iraq?s emerging democracy presents the mullahs with a complex challenge.
Democracy gives Iraq an ideological advantage in its struggle with Iran?s
dictatorship. Disgust and discontent has become a way of life inside Iran. The
Khomeinist revolution has failed and fossilized as a corrupt theocracy backed by
secret police and Revolutionary Guards. The Iranian people look west and see
Iraqi Arabs and Kurds seizing a historic opportunity to create their own open,
democratic system -- and they know the mullahs are the gangsters denying them
Moreover, Iraq?s Shia majority offers an ?alternative political vision?
(i.e., democracy) to Iran?s, and its Hezbollah puppet?s, Shia Islamist
In 1979, when the Ayatollah Khomeini toppled the Shah of Iran, the
Khomeinists had a radical vision propelling them, with the U.S. damned as The
Great Satan. Now the Ayatollah?s heirs wage a strategic delaying action, relying
on terror at home and abroad to remain in control.
The mullahs provide an example of America?s most common
21st century opponent -- a failed clique of violent ideologues with either
petrodollar or narcotics income whose chief tools of foreign policy are
assassination, terrorism and crime.
It?s why the next American president must win his Iraq