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The United States should not cooperate with Iran on Iraq

Authors: Max Boot, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies, and Michael Doran, Roger Hertog Senior Fellow, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution
June 17, 2014
Washington Post

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The growing disaster in Iraq has triggered anguished debate over two fundamental questions: What went wrong? And what do we do about it?

Surprisingly, many people who disagree vehemently about the former question (in particular, whether President George W. Bush or President Obama is more to blame) agree on the latter. Thus Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who has consistently attacked the Obama administration for its foreign policy, suggests that the United States should work with Iran to counter the rapid advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). That idea was also advanced by Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who said Monday that the administration is "open to discussions" with Tehran and would "not rule out" cooperation in Iraq.

It's sometimes true that very different countries can cooperate against a common enemy, as the United States and Soviet Union did during World War II. But the suggestion of a united U.S.-Iran front is more reminiscent of the wishful thinking among conservatives who argued in the 1930s that Britain and the United States shared a common interest with Nazi Germany in countering communism. The idea that the United States, a nation bent on defending democracy and safeguarding stability, shares a common interest with the Islamic Republic of Iran, a revolutionary theocracy that is the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism in the world, is as fanciful as the notion that Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler could work together for the good of Europe.

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