Ironically, the U.S. has found an unlikely ally in its battle against the terrorists who are trying to take over Iraq and Syria.
The foe is variously called ISIS or ISIL, but those names convey too much glamor and identity to what are actually stateless bands of rebels whose only real ties are to a radical brand of the Muslim religion.
The surprise ally is Iran, which is also the largest, strongest national entity in that star-crossed area of the world.
A critical, perhaps decisive, battle is now raging around the city of Tikrit, which the terrorists seized last year against weak resistance from Iraq.
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News from Iraq and Syria has always been sketchy and unreliable, and U.S. sources have been reluctant to publicize the full extent and success of Iran's role in the actual fighting, whether the U.S. is coordinating the Iraqi and Iranian forces now opposing ISIL or whatever the beheaders are calling themselves these days.
The best information seems to be that the tide that had been running against the factional Iraqi forces has been reversed by a combination of U.S. air power and Iranian boots on the ground.
Iraq has fully embraced Iran in combatting ISIL, even though Iran and Iraq fought a vicious 10-year war in the 1980s.
This development comes, of course, as the U.S. continues in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programs and trade sanctions which Congress is debating, with some congressmen solidly against Iran. But the decision comes down to helping the strongest military in the Middle East against ISIL or ignoring its assistance. Our choice is obvious and must be made soon.
Iran has opposed U.S. initiatives in the past, but its resistance to ISIL and the other terrorists in the Middle East should now be recognized -- and rewarded. Its soldiers risking their lives is preferable to American soldiers risking theirs.
When Germany attacked the Soviet Union during World War II, The U.S., Great Britain and other anti-Soviet countries nevertheless joined in to stave off a victory for Hitler's Nazi juggernaut, which already controlled half of Europe. It was a decision that decided the war and the fate of the world.
Helping Iran defend Iraq, Syria and other nations is not on the scale of that decision. but it could be a game- hanger in the Middle East.
Winston Churchill, a great phrase-maker, remarked in 1944, "If Hitler's armies invaded Hell, I would have a few kind words for Satan."
It's time the U.S. has a few kind words for Iran.
Millard Grimes, editor of the Columbus Enquirer from 1961-69 and founder of the Phenix Citizen. is author of "The Last Linotype: The Story of Georgia and Its Newspapers Since World War II." A profile of Grimes can be found in the Georgia Encyclopedia, www.georgiaencyclopedia.org.