For the past 35 years the Islamic Republic of Iran has been an enemy of the United States, but now, as the Wall Street Journal reports, the United States is cooperating with Iran to an unprecedented degree:
Recent months have ushered in a change as the two countries have grown into alignment on a spectrum of causes, chief among them promoting peaceful political transitions in Baghdad and Kabul and pursuing military operations against Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, according to these officials.The Obama administration also has markedly softened its confrontational stance toward Iran’s most important nonstate allies, the Palestinian militant group Hamas and the Lebanese militant and political organization, Hezbollah. American diplomats, including Secretary of State John Kerry , negotiated with Hamas leaders through Turkish and Qatari intermediaries during cease-fire talks in July that were aimed at ending the Palestinian group’s rocket attacks on Israel, according to senior U.S. officials.U.S. intelligence agencies have repeatedly tipped off Lebanese law-enforcement bodies close to Hezbollah about threats posed to Beirut’s government by Sunni extremist groups, including al Qaeda and its affiliate Nusra Front in Syria, Lebanese and U.S. officials said.
It’s true that you make peace with your enemies, not your friends. But making peace with Iran is not a simple bilateral recognition. It carries with it strategic choices and assumptions that could further destabilize the region and undermine our relationship with key allies. Preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is a fundamental objective of U.S. strategy, one that should be accomplished, if possible, by diplomatic means. But passing intelligence to Hezbollah, which has killed more Americans than any terrorist group other than al-Qaeda, and cooperating, even tacitly, with the Quds force in Iraq and Syria are separate matters, ones that have serious ramifications for our strategic position in the Middle East.If those strategic questions were being handled by an adept national security team it might inspire some confidence. But the fact that John Kerry and Wendy Sherman think they’ve outsmarted Qassem Suleimani should raise alarm bells for anyone concerned with U.S. strength and security in the Middle East. When Sherman says “[t]he world is clearly better off now than it would have been if the leaders on both sides had ignored this opening,” it is extremely difficult to see how that is the case. That the Shi’a militias are being held back from bombing U.S. troops and personnel in Baghdad will no doubt save American lives. But our detente with Iran may leave our allies to conclude that we’ve sold them out. If our relationship with those allies were in a more solid position, that would be one thing, but instead White House officials are telling journalists that Benjamin Netanyahu is “chickenshit” and a “coward,” Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief publicly blames the United States for what is going on in Syria, and Erdogan’s Turkey has stood in our way at every turn. We have no leverage to keep them onside. Instead our allies see a total abdication of American leadership and are considering jumping ship as it is.If Iran ceased to be an enemy of the United States, that would of course be a great benefit to American national security. But if doing so means losing all our friends and giving Iran yet another diplomatic victory, we should reconsider our positions.