Who could have believed just a few days ago that there would ever be a way to bring the U.S. and Iran together in a war, rather than on opposite sides?
As recently as June 6, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ridiculed the U.S. as the “Great Satan” and declared our nation would sit idly by as Iran pursued a nuclear program. He stated this while speaking under a banner that bluntly declared, “America Cannot Do a Damn Thing.”
But within 10 days time, the U.S. and Iran found themselves on the same side against an ultra-violent, ultra-extreme terrorist faction known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Syria), otherwise known as ISIS. This organization, formed amid the bloody civil war in Syria, has run roughshod through the region, raping, pillaging, plundering and murdering everything in its path.
ISIS is proud to kill and display the bloodshed they commit through social media websites such as Twitter and YouTube. Over the weekend, they documented its soldiers executing lines of Iraqi soldiers and slaughtering truck drivers they questioned.
Within the last week, ISIS-a group comprised of radical Sunni Muslims-took control of cities the U.S. fought hard to control during the war in Iraq over the last decade, including Fallujah, Kirkuk and Mosul. Now ISIS has Baghdad in its sights, but the city won’t be conquered without a fight.
Shiite Muslims in Iraq were called by their religious leaders to take up arms and fight the ISIS insurgency. President Obama sent in nearly 300 troops to defend the American embassy in Baghdad. There were also unconfirmed reports that Iran’s leadership-which, like the Iraqi government, is predominantly Shiite-dispatched 500 of its Revolutionary Guard troops to help stop ISIS.
Moreover, Secretary of State John Kerry-perhaps capitalizing on a classic “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” approach-left the door open for a possible U.S. alliance with Iran to prevent Iraq’s Shiite government from collapsing.
Eleven years ago, the U.S. invaded Iraq in a vain pursuit of establishing a Middle East democracy and ridding the world of Saddam Hussein. It succeeded in the latter, failed miserably in the former and paid a heavy price both in casualties (more than 4,600 dead) and financial burdens (more than $2 trillion spent).
The Obama administration, along with the American people, are weary after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Going back to Iraq with another “surge” of American troops has many political, economic and social costs- none of which this president nor this nation seem willing to bear.
But allowing Iraq to fall into the hands of a murderous theocratic regime would prove disastrous for the U.S. and the globe. An ISIS-led Iraq would be a giant terrorist training camp. There can be no doubt that such a regime would do nothing but export violence and murder around the world.
Iran also realizes they would be the next target if ISIS takes Iraq, but they are a nation with the resources and political will to fight the enemy. Don’t think for a second that they wouldn’t use that leverage against the U.S. in any negotiations over an alliance against ISIS-and over Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear problem.
Either way, the U.S. appears screwed, and years of bad diplomacy have come back to bite us once again. Knowing our history, we’ll make a deal with Iran and let them help Iraq defeat ISIS-and then, on some future date, Iran will stab us in the back, too.