Did anyone catch the CNN roundtable on the challenges facing the Obama Administration last night? It was noted that Iran is carefully sending signals that it desires a Paradigm shift in the Iranian-US relationship model. Iran's Ambassador to Iraq (name escapes me) is a leader within the elite military organization that has been training and equipping militia members in IED ordinance and small unit tactics, and even he has developed a marked willingness to engage in diplomacy with US representatives. Aside from Obama's election I'm wondering if the continued presence of US forces inside Iraq has unintentionally aided in shifting their opinions on American society? Of course guerrilla warfare isn't exactly an ideal way to get to know your adversaries, but stay with me. First a review of General Petraeus' strategy that ultimately proved successful; The surge has ended: the additional units are out of Iraq. The gains are holding, with monthly US military fatalities dramatically down, from a peak of 126 as the surge got under way to 18 last month. They are holding because the surge involved much more than extra US troops. Militarily, it underpinned the switch, masterminded by General Petraeus, to a counter-insurgency strategy that moved forces out of barracks into Iraqi streets with a mission to protect the Iraqi population and earn their trust. Politically, the surge sent the all-important message that the US was not, after all, going to cut its losses and run. That altered the dynamics in Iraq. Factions that had been jostling for power ahead of America's discomfited departure realised that the US would stay around until it could in some confidence leave Iraq to manage its own destiny. The Sunni switch to alliance with US forces was the most dramatic consequence, a turnaround that General Petraeus shrewdly encouraged and financed. Political conciliation is not yet a fact but at least it is talked about. Think about the pattern of warfare Iran last experienced during the Iran-Iraq war, it was vicious, brutal, and barbaric. Placed in comparison our revised strategy displays the best traits of the US serviceman. Deadly when confronted but genuinely more interested in working out conditions for peace than destroying or subjugating a population. Of course our commitments to Israel remains a bone of contention, but by being in such close proximity to an adversary for such a length of time affords the opportunity to reconsider opinions formed by long held suspicions and rumor. Maybe they've learned something about America from daily observance of our military along with first hand accounts from Iraqis? And besides, we did eliminate their greatest threat (Saddam).