Remember the old adage about keeping friends close and enemies
The Islamic Republic of Iran has been the sworn enemy of the
United States and Israel for a generation. A sponsor of
anti-American, anti-Israeli “terrorist” organizations throughout
the world, Iran is a perpetual target of American aggression.
As the American quest to stamp out terrorism worldwide unfolds,
Iran’s position in the conflict is becoming ever more precarious;
while the United States seems to be waiting for a reason to attack
Iran, an alliance with the Islamic Republic may be the only way to
achieve long-term stability in the region.
In his 2000 State of the Union address, President Bush branded
Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an “Axis of Evil.” While Iraq and
North Korea are definitely not friends of the United States, the
only proof linking either to terrorists was Saddam Hussein’s
monetary gifts to families of deceased Palestinian suicide
Of the three states, only Iran is an active sponsor of
terrorism. And now that the axis has become an axle with one hub
surrounded and the other in perpetual need of grease, the War on
Terror’s next turn will likely be toward the adversary that is not
corroding from within.
Iran and the United States have, for all intents and purposes,
been in a state of war since severing diplomatic relations in 1979.
Over the past 25 years, Iran has been a sponsor of Hezbollah, the
Palestine Liberation Organization and other militant groups. At the
same time, the United States has been continuously funding
anti-government factions within Iran.
After the Islamic revolution of 1979, the United States froze
all Iranian assets it had control over, approximately $12 billion,
and began funding anti-government insurgents in Iran.
Iranian-backed terrorists in Lebanon bombed a U.S. Marines
barracks in 1983, killing 241. In 1988 the United States shot down
an Iranian Airlines passenger jet over the Persian Gulf, killing
all 259 aboard. During the Iran-Iraq War, a conflict that literally
wiped out a generation of men on both sides, the United States
backed Saddam Hussein.
The conquest of Iraq, forged in the name of freedom and founded
by fears of terrorism, turned up no weapons of mass destruction and
only one Al-Qaeda member who has yet to be captured. Opponents of
the war claim the conflict is about oil, not defeating terrorists.
This may be somewhat true, but the occupation of Iraq also has
other benefits for the United States.
Perhaps the most subtle geo-strategic advantage America gained
in its quasi-tyrannical quest to rid Iraq of “tyranny” is the
United States now has control over the eastern and western borders
of Iran. The planet’s primary state sponsor of terrorism has been
surrounded by the United States.
The next logical step in the terror war would then be, at least
when viewed through the lens of the Bush doctrine, the destruction
of the Iranian government. Unfortunately for Bush, an invasion of
Iran is not politically possible because of the less-than-total
success of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Both countries are only being kept from anarchy by the presence
of U.S. forces, something the Bush administration is trying to
remedy. The governments currently in control of Afghanistan and
Iraq are seen as puppets of Washington, and their legitimacy is
totally dependent on the U.S. military.
What is needed to maintain the stability of both states is the
influence of a regional government not viewed as an American crony.
The government itself would have to be stable and legitimate, with
an Islamic tradition and a history of maintaining independence from
Iran is an Islamic republic, predominantly Shiite and blessed
with a tradition of independence, even from the Ottomans. These
attributes are at least partially attractive to both Iraqis and
Afghanis, as is the recent Iranian tradition of opposing the United
States and Israel.
Any partnership between the United States and Iran would
certainly involve conciliations on both sides, a fact that would
bring stability not only to the Middle East, but also to the rest
of the world.
At the center of these negotiations would be Israel. If Iran
could be persuaded to stop funding terrorist activities within
Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, so too could the United States be
persuaded to be more objective in its dealings with Israel.
While this may upset Israel in the short-term, especially
economically, the state’s long-term stability could be fortified
because of the pacification of its main rival.
While the recent U.S. military activities in the countries
bordering Iran have warmed U.S.-Iran relations from absolute zero
to merely freezing, the nations are still hostile. While there is a
growing movement within Iran to embrace the United States, the fact
remains that the building formerly used to house the U.S. Embassy
is now an anti-American museum.
Iraq and Afghanistan will never become fully autonomous if only
the United States controls their destinies. What is needed is a
political partner not viewed as imperialistic or opportunistic to
help guide the fledgling governments.
If Iran were tapped for such a task, its involvement could be
made conditional. Eager to expand its influence, Iran would
certainly accept at least some of these conditions, including a
public cessation of terrorist activities.
Not only would a geo-political partnership between the United
States and Iran stabilize the entire Middle East, it would end the
global war on terror.
Today, such peace may only be a fantasy, but it is something to
strive for nonetheless. Peace is possible.