What does the Argentine judiciary know that the Iraq Study Group doesn't?
Last month, federal Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral handed down arrest warrants for former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, former Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian and five other Iranian officials.
Indictments by Argentine prosecutors accuse the Iranian government of masterminding the 1994 truck bomb attack on a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and wounded more than 200.
The chief prosecutor in the case, reports the Associated Press, alleges that the decision to attack the Jewish center was made in Tehran "by the highest authorities."
Beyond Argentina, a 1996 truck bombing on the Khobar Towers housing complex in Saudi Arabia killed 20 people, 19 of them American servicemen, and wounded several hundred others.
In 1999, former State Department spokesman James Rubin told a press conference, "We do have specific information with respect to the involvement of Iranian government officials."
Three months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Justice Department issued a 46-count indictment against one Lebanese and 13 Saudi members of Hezbollah for their role in the Khobar Towers bombing. While Attorney General John Ashcroft didn't go as far as Canicoba in Buenos Aires, he did allow that "elements of the Iranian government inspired, supported and supervised members of Saudi Hezbollah."
And what does the United Nations know that the Iraq Study Group doesn't?
U.N. institutions traditionally coddle Arab despotism. But in the case of Syria, even the Mehlis Commission created by the United Nations to investigate the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri couldn't avoid the conclusion that cutthroat assassins infest the highest levels of Syrian government.
On Nov. 21, as the U.N. Security Council was deliberating the creation of an international tribunal to try suspects in the Hariri case, another anti-Syrian Lebanese patriot Pierre Gemayel met his untimely end. Maybe the Iranian government has turned over a new leaf of peace and reconciliation under the leadership of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Given his pining for the apocalyptic return of the Hidden Imam, denial of the Holocaust, illicit pursuit of nuclear weapons technology, support of international terrorism and threat to wipe Israel off the map, that metamorphosis seems somewhat unlikely.
Not unlikely enough, however, to be out of the realm of possibility for James Baker, Lee Hamilton and the rest of the Iraq Study Group. The group's report calls on the United States to "embark on a robust diplomatic effort to establish an international support structure intended to stabilize Iraq" that includes Iran and Syria.
And maybe the mullahs' murderous flunkies in Damascus have developed a profound respect for the norms of international behavior, though the Gemayel assassination only a few weeks ago suggests such a development is rather remote.
Not so remote, though, as to prevent the Iraq Study Group from calling on the United States, without preconditions, to "engage directly with Iran and Syria in order to try to obtain their commitment to constructive policies toward Iraq and other regional issues."
Whatever sensible recommendations the group may have made with regard to the disposition of American military power in Iraq, the idea that Iran and Syria have positive roles to play and that American diplomacy as if it hasn't been employed in the region for decades can suddenly unleash Iranian and Syrian good will is positively idiotic.
Iran and Syria may indeed be part of the solution to the violence in Iraq. But the constructive or, more accurately, nondestructive roles those nations might play will only emerge after the clear recognition that they are an essential part of the problem of violence in Iraq, the broader Middle East and around the globe.