If Israelis and Palestinians reached peace tomorrow, it would be ludicrous to expect a therapeutic spillover effect in Iraq. The fighting in Iraq is caused by a brutal struggle for power, a proxy war fueled by Iran’s growing ambitions in the region and al-Qaeda’s ruthless campaign to establish a base of operations to export its totalitarian Islamic revolution. Iraq’s Sunni insurgents and Shia militias, provoked by insurgent atrocities, would continue their bloody handiwork regardless of events between Israelis and Palestinians.
James Baker, the ISG co-chairman, maintains that Syria can be “flipped” and persuaded to reverse course and drop its longstanding alliance with Iran, and stop stoking terrorism and factional bloodletting in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories. This advice represents the triumph of hope over experience. As Secretary of State in 1990-1991, Baker failed to “flip” Syria, despite extensive diplomatic efforts. Secretary of State Colin Powell also failed to “flip” Syria.
Syria and Iran should be isolated and punished for their bloody subversion of their neighbors, not rewarded with invitations to participate in an illusory “peace process” that sacrifices the interests of American allies in Israel, Lebanon, and Iraq.