Part of the reason why opponents to a nuclear deal with Iran are so bewildered by President Barack Obama's diplomacy is because their belief that Iran can be forced to capitulate. They adhere to a George W. Bush administration-era argument: If the U.S. only were to ramp up pressure, it can dictate the terms of the deal instead of having to agree to a compromise. Nothing could be further from the truth. This argument is as reckless as it is disproven. In fact, the reason the Obama administration abandoned this path was because it realized that insisting on Iranian capitulation was more likely to lead to war than to victory.
We do not need to become an "ally" of Iran, but we should recognize that we will need to provide military support to the Iraqi government in the time ahead and, indeed, our special forces are already on the ground there. Iran will do the same. We will therefore have U.S. security activities alongside those of Iran in the Iraqi national battlespace. We should at least discuss the situation, and at a minimum, de-conflict our activities, from special forces advisors to airstrikes.
Ever since last year's U.S. presidential election race ended, the much-discussed concerns over Iran's nuclear build-up have vanished from the national debate. A sudden shroud over Iran, however, does not mean that the dispute is going to go away. The Iranian spectre will pop up again in unexpected ways.