It hardly seems likely that Levine is going off-script from what has become a rapprochement-besotted foreign policy establishment, one immune to bad faith, cold water, or Iranian misbehavior. Exquisitely well-timed items now read like joint diplomatic statements between Washington and Tehran. “US and Iran Face Common Enemies in Mideast Strife,” declared a New York Times headline on January 6, citing recent US offers of military aid to the largely Iranian-controlled government in Baghdad for fighting a resurgent al-Qaeda in Anbar Province as a prime example of purportedly convergent national interests. We already knew that Ryan Crocker, who thinks the IRGC only turned anti-American after George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” speech and who wants the US to openly back Assad, was not too long ago offered Robert Ford’s job at the State Department. (He turned it down.) We also know that Obama officials have intimated a new “role” for Iran in the Middle East, from Syria to Afghanistan. Yet the revisionism of Iran’s prior role seems to be approaching the level of an international syndrome. “We face the same enemy, and the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” the Times quoted Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, a “prominent Iranian reformist journalist,” before allowing him to remember Iran’s intelligence sharing with the United States about the Taliban (a favor the US government is now returning by sharing its own intelligence with Iran and Hezbollah about salafis in Lebanon and Syria).
Sensing such a change in stateside atmosphere, where all we have to fear is a bloodthirsty Congress, Iran is now positioning itself not as a state sponsor of terrorism, but instead an imminent partner in the war on terror. The only catch is that terror has to be Sunni in origin. Ancient history, it seems, is the 9/11 Commission Report, which found, inter alia, “[t]here is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al-Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers” and that “[a]fter 9/11, Iran and Hezbollah wished to conceal any past evidence of cooperation with Sunni terrorists associated with al-Qaeda.”