Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What to do now in Iraq.

Generals Peter Pace and John Abizaid testified last week in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and (excuse the passive voice) much hay was made. I seem to remember the partisan media focussing on a testy exchange between John McCain and General Pace on whether the situation could have been predicted.

It seems like the question Pace was answering was, "could you have predicted a Shiite force like Hezbollah getting into a war with Israel and destabilizing the situation in Baghdad with the Sadr and Badr militias?" and not, as the partisan media liked to imply, that the violence in Baghdad should have been pacified by now. Clearly, it is not just journalists who are questioning what to do now. Pat Roberts (R-KS) is calling for a revised intelligence estimate of Iraq, and this is never a bad idea.

So what, indeed, should be the role of U.S. forces at the present time? A lot of my speculation here assumes overt participation by Iran in a larger regional conflict which at this point to me seems inevitable. I would base strategy on the following:

1. Establish a "redoubt" in largely Kurd-controlled areas in the north of Iraq. This would discourage any contemplated Turkish adventurism as well as provide a base for U.S. operations in the Kurd-dominated areas of northern Iran. The Kurdish majority in northern Iraq has established a fairly stable civil infrastructure which needs to be protected, and the petroleum assets in that region are worth conserving for their benefit. Kurds have proven to be better allies than the Turks.

2. Realize the difficulty of protecting most of the urban centers of eastern Iraq against Iranian infiltration. This is a lesson Saddam learned in his war with Iran: most Iraqi cities are within spitting distance of the Iranian border, while most Iranian cities are deep in Iran's interior. In any Iranian invasion, these cities and the Shatt al-Arab are likely to fall quickly to a combination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard units and local Shiite militias. This allows Iran to establish a beachhead from which to threaten the center. al-Maliki is probably in the back pocket of Muqtada al-Sadr, who is currently experiencing resurgent popularity due to Khomeinist Shiite solidarity with their Hezbollah brethren. A temporary strategic withdrawal from the eastern border with Iran is probably prudent.

3. A strong presence within Baghdad must persist. It is necessary to protect the fledgling government apparatus during a turbulent time likely to see quite a bit of turnover in the next year. If Iran attacks overtly, al-Maliki is likely toast because he will see his buddies in the al-Sadr militia chewed up. al-Sistani needs to be protected because of his greater religious legitimacy and his standoffish posture vis a vis Iranian mullahs; it is al-Sistani's Shia who stand to profit in the ensuing power vacuum.

4. A critical strategic goal of U.S. policy should be to entice Iran into prematurely committing regular armed forces units into open warfare where they will likely be cut into ribbons by U.S. capabilities. Intelligence entities should prioritize the study of current Iranian tactical doctrine as revealed by the Hezbollah playbook, assuming the arming and training of Hezbollah reflects current thinking in military circles in Iran. Although Basiji human wave attacks are not likely to be employed by any sane Iranian general, certainly the esprit of these celebrated Khomeini-era formations permeates today's Iranian forces and might inspire some really dumb & exploitable moves.

Destruction of IRGC units in pitched battles can spare domestic Iranian regime critics who would form the nucleus of a post-war Iranian government. Invasion of Iran should not be something we are contemplating at this time. Rather, I advocate a destructive containment and attrition of the investment the mullahs have made in conventional materiel & manpower. This includes degradation of oil refinery capacity and pipelines, perhaps incorporating a multi-national Sunni force to take over petroleum assets in Sunni-dominated south Iran.

5. Syria needs to know in no uncertain terms that everyone knows they are Iran's bitch, and a massive "shock and awe" style campaign has to be in place and ready to go.


Blogger he who is known as sefton said...

Due mostly to the hyperlink that links your blogsite and HEAR, O ISREAEL, this comment is being left here. Anyway, here's the text:

". . . Wood'ja (?) buih-leave! . . .

I almost feel sorry for the fools, bent on destroying Israel. If only they knew what they're going up against. In the post titled ". . . more 'italian' than you realize . . .", I expound on the chief reason for that emotional "near miss".

Anyway, the text for the hyperlink to that post is just below . . .

If this comment intrigues you, consider bringing up that page.


8/10/2006 01:22:00 PM  

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