Ross Is Clearly a Major Player

Since Secretary of State Clinton set out for the Middle East over the weekend, it has seemed increasingly clear to me that Dennis Ross, contrary to my earlier speculation, pretty much got the job that he and WINEP were hoping for. Not only has he claimed an office on the coveted seventh floor, but Obama’s conspicuous placement of Ross’ name between those of Mitchell and Holbrooke in his speech on Iraq at Camp Lejeune last week strongly suggested that he considers Ross to be of the same rank and importance as the other two.

More to the point is what Clinton and those around her have been saying during the trip, including, most remarkably, the report by an unnamed “senior State Department official” that she told the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that she was “very doubtful” that diplomacy would persuade Iran to abandon its alleged quest for nuclear weapons. This, of course, very much reflects Ross’ own view (as well that of neo-conservatives) and will no doubt bolster hard-liners in Tehran who believe that Obama’s talk of engagement is simply designed to marshal more international support for eventual military action, be it a bombing campaign or a blockade to cut gasoline imports. That Obama essentially confirmed today’s New York Times report about a proposed deal with Moscow whereby it would go along with increasing sanctions against Iran in exchange for Washington’s non-deployment of anti-missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic only adds to the impression that some version of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s September ‘08 report on Iran strategy (drafted by hard-line neo-cons Michael Rubin and Michael Makovsky and signed by Ross), which I wrote about here, is in the process of being implemented. (I was going to write about this later this week, but the Moon of Alabama beat me to the punch. See also Stephen Walt’s analysis of Clinton’s scepticism on his Foreign Policy blog).

Adding to my growing sense that Ross occupies a critical role in policy-making, at least in the State Department, are what Clinton has had to say so far on her trip about Gaza, Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority. As Marc Lynch reports in his truly excellent blog, also on the Foreign Policy website, “her remarks suggest that rather than seize on the possibility of Palestinian reconciliation, Clinton prefers to double-down on the shopworn ‘West Bank first, Fatah only’ policy” strongly advocated by Ross. In that respect, you should definitely read Tuesday’s extended colloquy between Lynch, Brookings’ Tamara Wittes (who is more optimistic), and Carnegie’s Nathan Brown, who shares Lynch’s “disappointment” about Clinton’s performance. As Lynch notes, it seems that Clinton is stuck “in a bit of time-warp” regarding Hamas’ power in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority’s abject failure to enhance its legitimacy, and the Arab League’s renewed efforts to both unify itself and to reconstruct a Palestinian government of national unity. This insensitivity to Palestinian and Arab public opinion bears all the hallmarks of Ross’ failed Mideast diplomacy during the 1990’s.

I also have the impression that Ross and the so-called “Israel Lobby” whose interests he represents believe that enhancing conditions on the West Bank, combined with diplomatic engagement with Syria, will somehow be sufficient for Washington to regain its credibility in the region and rally the Sunni Arab states — along with the European Union, Russia, China, etc. — behind a policy of confrontation with Iran.

Author: Jim Lobe

Visit Lobelog.com for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service's Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.

  • Lear K

    Arab homes on Jewish historical site stoke strife

    “Yakoub Rishe fears returning from work one day to find his home wrecked. His wife, Aida, worries that any stranger knocking at the door was sent to kick them out.

    Their small cinderblock home is one of 3,000 unlicensed constructions in Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan. On Monday, city bulldozers toppled a nearby home and garage, spiking residents’ fears that more demolitions will follow.

    Silwan, a ramshackle neighborhood in east Jerusalem, sits atop a site Israelis call the City of David, named for the biblical monarch who ruled a Jewish kingdom from the spot 3,000 years ago. Jews consider the site an essential link to their ancient history, and the government has designated it an archaeological park.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090303/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_jerusalem_competing_roots

    3,000 years ago!?

    • Lester Ness

      Silwan is NOT on the site of the City of David. I am an archaeologist, I am quite familiar with both places, and Silwan in on a neighboring hill. Sometimes scholars will say Silwan is what David’s Jerusalem LOOKED like, but that’s it.

      Lester Ness
      Kunming
      China

      • Lear k

        Lester,
        many cities are built upon old cities.But this nothing more than absurd claim by the Jewish state to make life for the remaining Palestnians very difficult and steal more lands to build Jewish only satelments.All houses before Israel occupied Jerusalem were built without permits,and after 1967 Palestnians found it impossible to obtain permits to build,to dig wells,or bulid schools.

        see this.
        “The Ultimate Aim is the Transfer of Arab-Israelis”

        Ethnic Cleansing and Israel

        http://www.counterpunch.org/

  • John Lowell

    Americans should thank God for Russian resistance to US ill will vis-a-vis Iran. It easily could save the lives of thousands of our sons. Clearly the Russians weren’t going along with any missiles for pressure trade-off, our dear savior’s denials notwithstanding. The bought-and-paid-for Obama continues to prove himself as much in AIPAC’S hip-pocket as in that of the financial interests. Ross appears to be simply a foreign policy analogue to the tax-challenged Treasury Secretary Geithner. And when the whole shabang goes up in smoke and there are strikes and massive street demonstrations, you’ll experience it as cathartic finding Ross at the defense table together with Geithner at the obligatory show trial. The only question is whether Yankee Stadium will be big enough to hold the crowds.

  • Jim: Thanks for another fine report. I had almost thought that Hillary and Obama were trying something new here. I guess it’s just the same old stuff that Billy Clinton pushed all through the 90’s.

    • Lear k

      The US-India-Mossad Connection

      Another devious plan to disable Pakistan

      http://atheonews.blogspot.com/2009/03/us-india-mossad-connection.html

    • Lear k

      Clinton accuses Iran of seeking to intimidate

      “U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton swiped hard at Iran on Wednesday, accusing its hardline leaders of fomenting divisions in the Arab world, promoting terrorism, posing threats to Israel and Europe, and seeking to “intimidate as far as they think their voice can reach.”

      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090304/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/eu_clinton_iran

      !??

      • Andy

        Wow! Not sure if she is just reading from the script of her AIPAC masters or if this is just her usual psycho-babble. Israel, AIPAC, the mideast..this whole mess is just a never ending trip to the dentist for America.

      • Lester Ness

        Is she aware that Iranians are not Arabs?

        Lester Ness
        Kunming
        China

  • Orville H. Larson

    A neocon scumbag like Ross doesn’t augur well for Middle East “peace.” Not that Secretary Hillary Clinton is any better, mind you–she’s always been under the thumb of the Israel Lobby.

    President Obama The Divine? That grovel-in-the-dirt speech of his to AIPAC last year doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in a fresh approach, now, does it?

    We need to kick Israel’s ass. It’s the only thing the Zionist fanatics in Tel Aviv understand. Threaten to cut ’em off American life support.

    • Steve Hogan

      American life support is going to end eventually. The last remnants of our twitching economy are being suffocated by endless borrowing, spending and inflating by the idiots in Washington, D.C.

      When the dollar becomes worthless and the checks no longer clear, the US empire will end and the troops will come home. It may be the only positive outcome in an otherwise destructive and painful downward spiral.

      • Lear k

        Russian scholar says US will collapse — next year

        “If you’re inclined to believe Igor Panarin, and the Kremlin wouldn’t mind if you did, then President Barack Obama will order martial law this year, the U.S. will split into six rump-states before 2011, and Russia and China will become the backbones of a new world order.”

        http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090304/ap_on_re_eu/eu_russia_us_the_end_is_near

        • All perfectly plausible, given current events. In fact, Panarin might be overly generous by giving us until next year.

        • Lester Ness

          Prophets like this are almost always wrong. A civil war of sorts is not impossible in the US, but it would be more like jayhawkers vs. bushwhackers, not Lee vs. Grant. The various states are as likely to splinter as the US over-all.

          Lester Ness
          Kunming
          China

  • Lear k

    “Seven newly released memos from the Bush Justice Department reveal a concerted strategy to cloak the President with power to override the Constitution. The memos provide “legal” rationales for the President to suspend freedom of speech and press; order warrantless searches and seizures, including wiretaps of U.S. citizens; lock up U.S. citizens indefinitely in the United States without criminal charges; send suspected terrorists to other countries where they will likely be tortured; and unilaterally abrogate treaties. According to the reasoning in the memos, Congress has no role to check and balance the executive. That is the definition of a police state”

    http://www.counterpunch.org/

  • Lear k

    Clinton: Israeli home demolitions ‘unhelpful’

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090304/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_clinton_mideast

    Unhelpful! talk about understatement.

    • Eric

      That is exactly the term Madeleine Albright used about the massive Israeli settlement expansion that continued all through the 1990s, as she utterly failed to do anything about it. American, America, how do we become slaves of Israel? It’s maddeningly frustrating.

      • Andy

        We became slaves because we have a corrupt, bought and paid for government within a dysfunctional political system. A compliant, largely corrupt corporate media and a mostly indifferent tuned out public helps too.

        • I’d recommend replacing “indifferent [,] tuned out” with “zoologically ignorant and criminally apathetic.”

        • Brad Smith

          Right on, Andy and liberranter.

          Have you ever tried debating with one of these sheeple? Talk about an exercise in futility! I swear it would be easier to convince my cat and dog about the need for liberty than most of the US population. Seriously, some of these people seem to have a brain, they can drive their SUV’s and pay for their timeshares, why don’t they seem to get anything else?

          Peace!

        • Lear k

          My observations has been that people who least benefited from the system are the most supportive of it .And most are conveced that the US never does any wrong.

        • Eric

          Even many “liberal” Americans who are neither Jews nor fanatical Christians are totally fooled by Israel’s propaganda. Their very self-respect is merged with supporting Israel. In
          America, a Normal, Good Person loves Israel and refuses to hear anything bad about Israel.

          Go to most any “liberal”, “antiwar” website, find an article on the subject of the Iraq war, and try to find the word “Israel” on the page – in most cases, there’s no mention of it.

          And if you post something about the fact that we’re in Iraq because of the Israel lobby, and Obama doesn’t dare leave for the same reason (because, for example, Israel still wants a war against Iran, and occupying Iraq was always a stepping stone to that end), these secular, “liberal”, “antiwar” bloggers will whine, “This article is about Iraq! Why are you forcing Israel into the discussion? Besides, every good liberal knows this was a War For Oil! Clearly you are an obsessive anti-Semite!”

        • Lester Ness

          Israelis are cowboys, Arabs are Indians and ought surrender, move to reservations. So lots of Americans assume.

          Lester Ness
          Kunming
          China

      • richard vajs

        How did we become slaves of Israel? I blame a lot of this idiocy on the fact that most Protestant churches honor the Old Testament (with its emphasis on Israelis being the “chosen ones”) as much as they do the New Testament (which should be the totality of their belief). The Zionists are very glad to associate themselves with the notion of being the actual “chosen ones, even though there is probably little connection between the ancient Hebrews and these Israelis. It makes as much sense to label modern day Scandanavians as Vikings or Mexicans as Aztecs. Ridiculous concept but it sells. The poor sheeple never escape Zionist propaganda whether in their easy chair watching the news or sitting in their pews on a Sunday morning.

        • Lear k

          They are thought fro early young age in sunday schools that Israel the fulfiment of God’s plan,in those mega churches,and CBN.And they fighting against those evil Muslims and Arabs.

  • Lear k
  • Abe Licoln did it all, suspend habeous corpus, jail thosands of critical newspapermen, hung people on the trial by military commissions, terrorize state legislatures. He gave the road map to Wilson, Roosevelt, Bush and probably Obama. He was our first wartime dictator.

    • Andy

      War is the health of the state.

  • Lear k

    The Ultimate Earmark
    U.S. Military Aid to Israel

    The United States and Israel signed a Memorandum of Understanding in August 2007 committing the U.S. to give Israel $30 billion in military aid over the next decade. This is grant aid, given in cash at the start of each fiscal year. The only stipulation imposed on Israel’s use of this cash gift is that it spend 74 per cent to purchase U.S. military goods and services.

    The first grant under this agreement was made in October 2008, for FY2009, in the amount of $2.55 billion. To bring the total 10-year amount to $30 billion, amounts in future years will gradually increase until an annual level of $3.1 billion is reached in FY2013. This will continue through FY2018.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/christison03052009.html

    • Andy

      Just think what 30 billion over the next decade might have done if it had been spent say on Detroit.

  • Gert Rhodrison

    It.s nice to finally hear the President speak and not cringe like a soft tyranny.

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