Aiding the enemy in war used to be a crime. Apparently, James Baker and other members of the Iraqi panel are immune from prosecution. Their report is the best encouragement for the guerrillas: the American enemy trembles! He is hopeless! The guerrillas need to hasten their military build-up: in only a year, the US will be out of Iraq, and they must be ready to take over the weak government.

The panel’s suggestions vindicate critics who accuse the US government of intellectual bankruptcy. The report argues that the US should reduce aid if the Iraqi government fails to secure the country. Of course, the Iraqi government will fail: it cannot be both democratic (thus shiite) and non-sectarian, cannot respect human rights and curb the violence. When someone fails, he needs more help, not less. A one-year timeframe is ludicrous, clearly insufficient to bring the country back to order – unless the militants cooperate with the government temporarily to see the Americans leave.

James Baker has a conflict of interests and should not have chaired the commission. As an attorney at Baker Botts law firm, he represents Saudi Arabia. Baker advises several corporations with significant interests in Iran and therefore argues for drawing Iran into the negotiations over Iraq. Such an arrangement would pledge Iraqi security to Iran and subject Iraq to overwhelming Iranian influence.

Baker, a professional fixer, prefers to play on the grand scale: the more countries he involves, the better. Thus he insists on bringing Syria into the negotiations. Syrian involvement in Iraq is limited and won’t stop; Syria has to realize its foreign ambitions somewhere. It promised many times to leave Lebanon alone and doesn’t. Talking to Syria is good for Baker who, like a master magician, makes an outcast country into the peacekeeping Cinderella. Talking to Syria and Iran, essentially begging them to take over where the US failed, insults America. Dealing with terrorist states is a crime, though Baker seems exempt from prosecution. Negotiations, even if indirect, with Syria and Iran, would damage the credibility of US antiterrorist policy. The message is: America fights small terrorists but deals with big ones.

The report conjectures that Iraq’s neighbors will intervene if the government fails. That’s quite a misunderstanding of the Muslim mentality. The neighbors won’t care about the civil strife and will enjoy a weak Iraq, unable to threaten them.

Sectarian conflict is blamed for the violence. Decades ago, however, Iraq was much more religious than today, but sectarian clashes were rare. Sunni and shia do not fight much in Lebanon. The current situation is simply a civil war, with various groups striving for power. They fight for (power), not against (other denominations). No amount of propaganda and liberal education will stop them: they want to govern. Shiites accept Maliki as their front, acceptable to America and bringing money in; that arrangement is temporary.

The panel misunderstands military realities when it suggests embedding more US troops in Iraqi units. Even US Army branches don’t cooperate easily. Integrating command and control has been a hot topic among the US military for a long time. American soldiers do not speak Arabic and cannot efficiently train the locals. The US-trained Iraqi soldiers will end up among the guerrillas; American military equipment will change hands similarly. The US military endorses the embed option for a different reason: it shields the Americans with Iraqis.

There is no need to train the Iraqis; they know how to kill. The issues are two: do they want to kill fellow shiite militants, or only sunnis and Kurds? Are they permitted to kill insurgents indiscriminately? That is a moral question: what makes Maliki a more legitimate ruler than the shiite fundamentalists? They are the majority in the parliament, and their militia should logically form the core of the Iraqi army.

Asking lawyers to chart a military doctrine was odd. And odd results they produced.

According to the commission, the US could not achieve its goals in the Middle East without Israeli-Arab peace. What are the goals? A country that supports both Israel and Saudi Arabia, intervenes in Iraq and asks for Iranian help, courts Egypt and plans peacekeeping in Sudan lacks strategy. The US already tried to force its vision on Lebanon (Hezbollah got elected democratically), Palestine (Hamas elected), and Iraq. Now American politicians who have failed in every endeavor will push Israel to capitulate.

Fortunately, the report hinges on utopia. Israel “should” (a master-slave relationship) return the Golan Heights, though in the context of a “full and secure” peace which is not forthcoming. Syria will abandon neither Hamas nor Hezbollah and will not agree to a ridiculous international force on the Heights. Baker evidently has little idea of the geography: how would one guard the mountains? Beside, Israel needs the early warning stations on the Golan Heights.

The commission insists on an Israeli land-for-peace deal with the Palestinians. That’s not exactly how the US dealt with Mexico: faced with Mexican violence, America took the land, did not give it away.