|Ahmed Muhtar Pasha, Ottoman Grand Vizier and Wali of Yemen|
The United States and the Iranians share a common enemy in ISIS which they are both battling in Tikrit. There have even been reports that there has been some competiton and resentment on the part of Shiite militias who have refused to fight while the United States is bombing targets in the city (“US Airstrikes on ISIS in Tikrit Prompt Boycott by Shiite Fighters,” NYT, 3/26/15). In Yemen the United States backs the Abrabbuh Mansour Hadi the democratically elected president who had previously been unseated by the Iranian backed Houthi’s and is now in the process of being restored by a Saudi lead coalition (“Yemen Crisis: Who is fighting whom?"BBC, 3/26/15). America’s closest ally in the Middle East, Israel, is Iran’s greatest foe. Have such multivalent alliances ever existed in modern times. In the Second World War, there was, for instance, the Axis (composed of Japan, German and the fascist governments of Italy, France and Spain) and the Allies. However fragile, life was still simpler, as it was in terms of the spectrum of alliances that characterized the First World War. In l939, Russia did sign the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact with the Germans, but that alliance soon fell apart. In his speech to congress Netanyahu said about the prospect of a military alliance with Iran, “the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.” But these developments might be termed post-modernist realpolitik. If there ever was a sense of good and evil, of right and wrong, it is has become more cloudy then ever and the current situation has begotten the kind of strange bedfellows that one finds here in America where the Christian right and the feminist left have united against protecting the First Amendment rights of pornographers who produce images that are offensive to women. There's strength in numbers and its always easier when a coalition can close ranks against a common enemy the way the allies did against the axis powers during the Second World War. But there's also something undeniably intriguing about the prospect of sharing objectives with unlikely partners. As the palette of human sexuality has changed with same sex marriage and sex reassignment, so the concept of national objectives and identities which have created entities like NATO an SEATO may also evolve in ways that offer more pluralistic solutions to conflict resolution.