On Saturday, Will Rodriguez published a piece here at SOFREP that laid bare an apparent use of American-made weaponry by Iran in Iraq. My article is not a point-by-point engagement of Mr. Rodriguez’s piece. Rather, it is simply a response that highlights some potential alternatives for continuing to remain so rigid in our approach to security policy in the Middle East. In reading his article, I was unsure as to why burdening the Iranians with the responsibility of fighting ISIS on the ground is, in his words, “bad news.”

In ensuring that the Iranians are invested in the successful outcome of the battle against the Islamic State (IS) by placing the burden of stabilizing the Iraqi regime fully on their shoulders, we also ensure that the Iranians expend valuable financial and military resources in fighting IS while the U.S. reaps the benefits of a degraded ISIS capacity to both threaten the U.S. at home and our interests abroad. To quote the 19th-century British statesman and two-time prime minister Henry John Temple and apply his words as pragmatic counsel to U.S. strategists and policymakers:

“I say that it is a narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is to be marked out as the eternal ally or the perpetual enemy of England. We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow…”

Looking at the issue from the perspective of Tehran, stability is in their interest as it remains in the interests of the U.S. even more. Iran’s shared border with Iraq means that a destabilized Iraq, dominated by ISIS, would threaten to spill over into Iran. This makes for a convenient, if temporary, alliance.

This pseudo-cooperation on battling an enemy shared by both the U.S. and Iran could provide the U.S. and Europe significant leverage in negotiating a halt to Iran’s nuclear program. The halting of that program would go a long way toward integrating Iran back into the community of nations, encourage a resurgent democratic dissident, promote an opposition movement in Iran, and potentially lead to an epochal change that may lead to a toppling of the Iranian clerical government regime.

Iran’s investment in a stable Iraq is based on the existential threat of ISIS to Iran. In this regard, U.S. interest in destroying ISIS (the group destabilizing Iraq) and Iran’s converge to make convenient allies in the war against the Islamic State. Given the choice between the barbarity of the Islamic State and a temporary alignment of the U.S. with Iran in battling the threat the group poses to the entire region, it is wise and pragmatic to make use of the Iranians as a proxy force. In this regard, the Iranian regime would be responsible for the success of the degradation of ISIS on the ground and a deterrent against further onslaught by the terrorist group. By ensuring that Iran shoulders the burden of the ground fight, the U.S. would limit the capacity of the regime in Tehran to dedicate resources elsewhere, to include military modernization, infrastructure, and nefarious activity abroad.

The conflict would ensure that the regime in Tehran remains preoccupied with a protracted battle in a neighboring state and sap dwindling resources the regime maintains as it suffers under sanctions and exclusion from much of the international community. Investing Iran in the ground fight and placing the burden on the Tehran regime is a pragmatic policy that limits the financial contributions of the U.S. and acts as a bulwark against the deployment of large-scale numbers of U.S. conventional ground forces.

U.S. interest in the Middle East is firmly rooted in our fundamental pursuit of stability—both in the short term to reverse the surge of Sunni-dominated ISIS, and in the long term to assist in facilitating the Baghdad government’s efforts to assert control over the state of Iraq. Iran essentially acts as a proxy for American policy in Iraq in this regard; if you saddle the regime in Tehran with the burden of ensuring that the Baghdad government is in full control of its territory, you also create an opportunity for cooperation between Iran and the other powers in both the region and the West.