Monday, September 01, 2014

Not so "unlikely allies"

I wonder how many times some version of this "strange bedfellows" article can be written about how the U.S. and Iran are effectively on the same side. The two countries were on the same side when the U.S. went to war against the Taliban in 2001, they were on the same side when the U.S. was supporting the shia' led Iraqi government during its long occupation of Iraq, and they are on the same side now with ISIS.

The bottom line is U.S. and Iranian interest have been more or less in alignment in the middle east on a bunch of issues for years, with the big exceptions being issues concerning Israel and Iran's nuclear program. But really that is just one issue because one of the main reasons that the U.S. considers Iran to be a nuclear outlaw is the Islamic Republic's stance on Israel. America has a long history of tolerating and cooperating with nuclear outlaws if it otherwise suits its strategic interests (i.e. countries that develop nuclear weapons outside of the NPT framework). The three big examples being Israel, India, and Pakistan.

And actually, Iran, unlike those other three, is an NPT signatory. So Iran is arguably much less of a nuclear rogue state than they are. (You could also argue it the other way, that you're more of a rogue if you accept a regulatory framework and cheat than if you don't agree to the framework that the rest of the world is governed by at all. But that's assuming that Iran is cheating, something that Iran denies, but others including the U.S. and Israel, insists they are.)

The other big thing that puts Iran and the U.S. at odds is, of course, recent history. It is hard for the U.S. to get past what happened in 1979-81, just as it is hard for Iran to get past what happened in 1953.

Anyway, my point is that if you can look past second-half of the 20th century history and the differences over Israel, the U.S. and Iran have long had a lot of interests in common in the region. It's just that those other things loom so large that they obscure the countries' other common interest. So every few months someone notices those common interest and writes the same damn article about how odd it is that Iran and the U.S. happen to be on the same side for once, even though that "for once" has been happening over and over again for the past decade and a half.