The evidence of an informal alliance between the U.S. and Iran in the fight against ISIS (or Daesh) in Iraq may give comfort to those who support President Barack Obama’s “leading from behind” foreign policy. However, it is a strategic disaster for the United States, as Iran strengthens its military and political influence in Iraq, increases its bargaining strength against the west in nuclear talks, and shores up its internal political stability, when the regime seemed close to toppling less than five years ago.
There is precedent for the U.S. cooperating with a major strategic enemy against a common foe. One example is the Second World War, when the U.S. worked together with the Soviet Union and “Uncle Joe” Stalin. That example, however, also shows the potential costs of such an alliance, as communism was allowed to dominate Eastern Europe after the war, leaving war between the two superpowers as a constant threat, and condemning generations of people to a life without freedom–and worse.
The Iranian regime remains implacably opposed to the U.S. Hatred of America is central to the ayatollahs’ founding ideology. Already, anti-American conspiracy fabulists throughout the region blame the U.S. and Israel for ISIS, and support from the U.S. for the Iraqi government or anti-ISIS forces is being downplayed. The Washington Post notes that some of the Kurds, the most reliably pro-American group in Iraq, have been receiving weapons from Iran, potentially tempting them to switch allegiances.
It could have been different. The Obama administration could have honored a campaign promise from 2008 to leave a military presence in Iraq. It could have armed the Kurds aggressively instead of leaving them vulnerable to defeat, rape, and mass murder by the so-called “Islamic State.” Instead, as Obama pursues a nuclear deal at any price, he has allowed Iran to secure its Iraqi foothold. The alliance with Iran may provide a short-term boost in the fight against ISIS, but comes at a heavy strategic cost.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak