Friday, January 19, 2007

The Double-Swap in Iraq

During the Vietnam War, it was difficult for American forces in South Vietnam to know when they were fighting local insurgents (the Viet Cong) and when they were fighting invaders from another nation (the North Vietnamese Army.) The two were not equal; to defeat one required a different set of resources and tactics than the other. But usually, American soldiers did not know the difference, mostly because both enemies were careful to remain invisible as much as possible.

On October 17, 1967, Lieutenant Colonel Terry Allen ordered two Companies of the Army's 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry into an area west of the village of Chon Thanh. This was a region known to be held by the Viet Cong; but a few nights earlier, the Viet Cong had cleared out. Almost simultaneously, without the knowledge of the Viet Cong, a division of the North Vietnamese Army had dug into the area on their way south to another engagement. As the two American Companies walked confidently toward the North Vietnamese trenches, they were cut down by overwhelming fire; almost every American soldier was killed. The next day, the North Vietnamese melted away, anxious to make it to their original destination on time. The United States Army did not find out what really happened until years later.

The battle of Chon Thanh shows that, when the enemy remains invisible, it is possible for one opponent to be completely replaced by another. At Chon Thanh, the swap happened by accident. However, this kind of substitution can be done deliberately and repeatedly.

When we invaded Iraq, unbeknownst to us, we were subjected to an invisible double swap: we wound up fighting not one, but three different opponents — and three different wars — in quick succession. In this case, the swapping was partly intentional and partly accidental:

1. Our first opponents were the regular armies of Saddam Hussein, including his elite Republican Guard. We won this first war quickly and decisively, and the Iraqi people were jubilant and grateful.

2. Our second opponents were a mixture of Baath Party members and other officials from Saddam's regime, and opportunists from other nations, mainly intelligence officers from Iran. They mingled with the crowds of looters, removing or destroying caches of arms, equipment, and documents. (Some of them simply walked out of Saddam's offices carrying the computers.) We lost this second war, mainly because we didn't even realize it was happening.

3. Our third opponent is Iran. By 2004, the Iranian government had no fewer than three proxy armies operating inside Iraq. Through these substitutes, Iran has now killed at least 2,000 of the 2,434 U.S. soldiers who have died in hostile action in Iraq. (Another 596 have died in accidents and other incidents. These are the latest figures as of January 19, 2007.) We are losing this third war.

It is doubtful that our soldiers even realize that this double-swap has occurred. Iraq is not in the grips of a civil war: Iran is masterminding 90% the killing, including attacks upon Shiite Muslims. The remaining 10% is being done by hoodlums and misguided tribal patriots.

In the postings that follow, we will see how Iran's aggression against our soldiers in Iraq conforms to the Iranian Attack Model, which was described in postings 3 and 4. By analyzing Iran's use of proxy armies in Iraq, we will see more clearly how Iran is using warfare by proxy to dominate world politics.

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