- - Thursday, October 30, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

White House aides keep hinting there will be a “big surprise” coming after the election, implying it will be a stroke-of-the-pen amnesty program for millions of illegal immigrants. Is there another “big surprise” in the works, though, one involving foreign policy?

At this point in every administration, a president’s thoughts turn naturally to contemplating his place in the history books. President Obama thinks he has succeeded in remaking America, but so far his foreign-policy legacy has been a flop.

The reset with Russia failed, and Vladimir Putin is throwing his weight around in Eastern Europe. The Libyan war ended in jihadi chaos. Afghanistan, Mr. Obama’s war in every meaningful sense, is a bureaucratic and military nightmare that will erupt in civil war once we leave. The Egyptians now despise us, Israeli-Palestinian relations are worse than ever, U.S.-Israeli relations have descended into sophomoric name-calling, and the Arab Spring has morphed into a regional Shiite-Sunni civil war.

George W. Bush had the Iraq war won by the time he left office, but Mr. Obama snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by failing to leave a residual military force — a foolish mistake in a notoriously unforgiving neighborhood. As a result, the Islamic State was able to rise from the ashes to create a Sunni Islamist caliphate in much of Iraq and Syria. It is hungrily looking to gobble up even more of the region.

As The Washington Post said recently, “President Obama’s strategy to ‘degrade and eventually destroy’ the terrorist entity is unworkable [because] the military means the president has authorized cannot accomplish his announced aims.” That devastating verdict is consistent with David Rothkopf’s new book, “National Insecurity,” which documents a similar breakdown dating from Mr. Obama’s earliest days in office: “The president failed to create a strategy to address what the presidential candidate had identified as a priority.” Time for some creative thinking.

One of the president’s first and continuing goals has been to forge a new strategic relationship with Iran. In his first inaugural address, Mr. Obama told Iran “that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Iran has a new set of leaders, who may sound more conciliatory than the last bunch, but they have nonetheless accelerated Iran’s nuclear program. They have also expanded their geographic reach. When Mr. Obama quit Iraq in December 2011, Shiite Iran stepped into the breach to hold sway over the new Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad. Even so, Mr. Obama remains committed to a historic deal with Iran.

The rise of the Islamic State, or ISIS, is rapidly creating in the Middle East what the Soviets used to call a “correlation of forces.” If Mr. Obama is going to stop ISIS without U.S. combat forces, he needs an Iran deal more than ever and Iran to bail him out.

What might it look like? An American-Iranian alliance would be a classic quid pro quo, satisfying the most pressing needs on both sides. With America’s blessing, Iran would shore up Iraq’s army with their “boots on the ground” to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The commander of Iran’s elite Al Quds force, Gen. Qassem Suleimani, is already in Baghdad. The America-Iran-Iraq coalition would save Mr. Obama from having to admit his anti-ISIS coalition has failed.

In exchange, Mr. Obama would lift sanctions on Iran, while Iran claims it has no intention of building nuclear weapons. Gone will be Mr. Obama’s insistence that Iran “roll back” its nuclear-enrichment program. In short, Iran will pretend to stop their nuclear program, and we will pretend to believe them.

Of course, it won’t be presented that way. Mr. Obama’s Iran deal will be hailed as a major strategic breakthrough, similar to President Nixon’s opening to China. He would do it with the stroke of a pen, without consulting Congress. American business will applaud, as will our European allies, because they can now openly do business with the largest market in the Middle East. Apple is already in Baghdad poised to sell iPhones the minute the embargo is lifted. Everybody wins, at least for a while.

However, the long-term consequences would be devastating to us and our allies in the region. Israel would be left to fend for itself with Sunni and Shiite terrorists at its borders, and a threshold nuclear Iran threatening to wipe it off the map. Our Sunni allies would be forced to bow to an ascendant Iran or enter a nuclear arms race to counter Shiite hegemony.

A deal of some sort with Iran is probably inevitable. A deal, though, that allows Iran to become a threshold nuclear state and dominant regional power, all with America’s blessing, is a deal that creates more problems than it solves.

K.T. McFarland is a Fox News national security analyst and host of FoxNews.com’s DEFCON3. She held national security posts in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations.

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