This WashPost headline (“Wait, John McCain and Lindsey Graham are at odds? Yes — on Iran and Iraq“) grabbed my attention this morning:
Pick your favorite foreign policy debate and odds are hawkish Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) will be on the same side. Not so when it comes to the escalating situation in Iraq.
McCain on Monday warned sharply against the idea of collaborating with Iran to help the Iraqi government push back against radical Islamist fighters…
“It would be the height of folly to believe that the Iranian regime can be our partner in managing the deteriorating security situation in Iraq,” said McCain in a statement….
Appearing on the Sunday news shows, Graham cautiously endorsed the idea, provided certain conditions are met.
“Well, we’re going to probably need their help to hold Baghdad,” he said on CBS News’s “Face The Nation.”
On the same program, Graham said, “We need to all make sure Baghdad doesn’t fall
It’s not really a huge split, except that McCain’s language (“height of folly”) is so emphatic. But worth making note.
Frankly, I’m intrigued by the implications of working with Iran for other issues. No, I don’t expect us to become big buddies and see them immediately drop their nuclear program for their new pals, but crises breed opportunity, and there could be one here — aside from the immediate tactical situation, which sees Iran in a better position to act than the U.S.
It’s going to be tough to work with the mullahs while simultaneously pressing Maliki to be less of a Shi’ite chauvinist (thereby making his regime one more worth saving), but it’s worth exploring.
So I think Graham’s being the more pragmatic and flexible here…
Editor’s note: The above video clip — one of my most popular ever — is NOT from this week. It’s from May 15, 2007.