Defeating ISIS, Rolling Back Iran

In a recent article in The Atlantic, terrorism scholar Martha Crenshaw claimed it would be impossible to fight one enemy—either Iran or ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sha’m [Greater Syria])—without strengthening the other.[1] It appears the Obama administration agrees with this prognosis and is warming to an expanded role for Tehran in the region. This is not surprising given President Obama’s statement last December that Iran could be “a very successful regional power … that would be good for everybody.”[2] Then in early March 2015, the Joint Chiefs’ chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey remarked that Iran’s efforts against ISIS in Iraq “will in the main have been a positive thing,”[3] so long as it did not inflame sectarian tensions. More recently, the State Department has been walking back Secretary of State John Kerry’s slip that the administration might be open to negotiating with the Iranian-aligned Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad.