Dennis Ross co-founder of AIPAC appointed as Obama's special envoy to Iran and overall Middle East “czar.”
President Elect Barack Obama has appointed Dennis Ross as his special envoy to Iran and overall Middle East “czar.” It is impossible to imagine anyone who would be less of an honest broker in the Middle East.
Dennis Ross was Bill Clinton's Middle East envoy where he was somewhat pro-Israel and he seems to have become more of an neocon-oriented Israel Firster since then. His post-Clinton record includes supporting the pro-Iraq War campaigns of the neocon Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and serving as a senior fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a significant pro-Israel think tank in Washington
Mearsheimer and Walt describe WINEP as ‘part of the core’ of the Israel lobby. In “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy,” they write:
"Recognizing the need for a prominent but seemingly ‘objective’ voice in the policy area surrounding Israel, former AIPAC president Larry Weinberg; his wife, Barbi Weinberg; AIPAC’s vice president; and AIPAC deputy director of research Martin Indyk founded the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in 1985. Although WINEP plays down its links to Israel and claims that it provides a ‘balanced and realistic’ perspective on Middle East issues, this is not the case. In fact, WINEP is funded and run by individuals who are deeply committed to advancing Israel’s agenda. Its board of advisors includes prominent pro-Israel figures such as Edward Luttwak, Martin Peretz, Richard Perle, James Woolsey and Mortimer Zuckerman, but includes no one who might be thought of as favoring the perspective of any other country or group in the ‘Near East.’ Many of its personnel are genuine scholars or experienced former officials, but they are hardly neutral observers on most Middle East issues and there is little diversity of views within WINEP’s ranks.” (pp. 175-176)
In recent years, Ross also has served on the board of the Jerusalem-based Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, a think tank that promotes “the thriving of the Jewish people via professional strategic thinking and planning on issues of primary concern to world Jewry.”
Ross has taken a very hostile position toward Iran . He produce the 2008 Bi Partisan Policy centre report “Meeting the Challenge: U.S. Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear Development,” ( 117 p pdf) The report argues that despite Iran’s assurances to the contrary, its nuclear program aims to develop nuclear weapons and is thus a threat to the U.S. This conclusion is contrary to the CIA’s November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which found that Iran had put its efforts to develop nuclear warheads on hold. Moreover, the report contends that if Iran had nuclear weapons it could not be deterred, like all other countries that have had nuclear weapons, because of its “extremist ideology.”
" ... the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), a new institution in Washington devoted to crafting prudent policy solutions to complex problems and, then, working to implement them. In the years we have spent in government, we learned that matters of such grave national importance must be met with thorough analysis, sober deliberation, and bipartisan cooperation." ...er. in the introduction says .." Michael Rubin (of the of the American Enterprise Institute ) who was the primary drafter of the report. The AEI website today carries a message from Michael .."the road to peace does not lie in a cease fire. As Michael Rubin writes, it lies in a "recognition of Israel's right to exist and to live without the relentless Hamas assaults."
In his biography the AEI are happy to explain that Michael .."In addition to his work at AEI, several times each month, Rubin travels to military bases across the United States and Europe to instruct senior U.S. Army and Marine officers deploying to Iraq and Kuwait on issues relating to regional state history and politics, Shiism, the theological basis of extremism, and strategy. "
The report actually calls for the new US president to expand American military forces in the Middle East! This would entail “pre-positioning additional U.S. and allied forces, deploying additional aircraft carrier battle groups and minesweepers, emplacing other war material in the region, including additional missile defense batteries, upgrading both regional facilities and allied militaries, and expanding strategic partnerships with countries such as Azerbaijan and Georgia in order to maintain operational pressure from all directions.” The neo-cons wildest dream the US fighting wars for the Jews.
The report goes on to state that if the new administration would hold talks with Iran it should set compliance deadlines which if not met would lead to an American attack on Iran. The military strikes would “have to target not only Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but also its conventional military infrastructure in order to suppress an Iranian response.”
Washington Commentator Jim Lobe accurately refers to this document as a “roadmap to war,” pointing out that “if Tehran is not eventually prepared to permanently abandon its enrichment of uranium on its own soil—a position that is certain to be rejected by Iran ab initio—war becomes inevitable, and all intermediate steps, even including direct talks if the new president chooses to pursue them, will amount to going through the motions (presumably to gather international support for when push comes to shove.)”
In appointing people like Ross to key roles, is Obama, the presumed proponent of peace, actually preparing for a policy of war in the Middle East?
As Raimondo writes: “With Hillary and Ross at the helm of State, expect prolonged negotiations in the form of a series of ultimatums directed at Tehran, punctuated, perhaps, by a series of incidents, close calls that don't quite spark a war but keep the embers burning. All this drama leading inexorably to a preordained denouement – the third gulf war.”
Obama’s image as a proponent of peace makes it easier for him to launch war. His move to war could much more easily be perceived by the public as the only option remaining, in contrast to skepticism that Bush/Cheney would face as known warmongers. Many more liberals and Democrats would support a war launched by Obama than a war launched by a Republican. And conservatives and Republicans would tend to give Obama about as much support for war as they would give to Bush/Cheney or McCain; in fact, many probably would criticize him as moving too slowly toward war.
Some of the more naive Obama peace supporters maintain that Obama’s appointment of Middle East hawks represents a cunning plan to achieve peace. Raimondo addresses this argument: “We keep hearing Obama is making all these business-as-usual appointments in order to disarm his critics in advance when he starts taking those really bold initiatives, but doesn't there come a point when that somewhat dubious strategy becomes suspiciously repetitive? Is he really appointing Dennis Ross just so he can usher in a new era of equal justice and sustained peace in the region? Come off it, you Obama-ites – there won't be any change in our foreign policy, except for the worse.”
Anti-war commentator Glenn Greenwald, writes “Some argue that Obama has filled key positions with politicians who have a history of virtually absolute support for Israeli actions . . . because Obama intends to continue, more or less, the Bush policy of blind support for Israel. Others argue the opposite: that those appointments are necessary to vest the Obama administration with the credibility to take a more active role in pushing the Israelis to a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.” Ho.Ho.Ho.
Greenwald doesn’t seem to see the need to provide much evidence here. Obviously, no one can definitely “know” what will happen in the future. However, by looking at past events one gets a better understanding of what will probably happen in the future—probability not certainty. This is simply how people plan for the future.
Obama can only be judged on his rather poor track record. From past experience it would seem that an administration’s policy is largely shaped by high-placed policy advisors . By selecting pro-Israeli hawks such as Ross, Obama has guaranteed that the Iranians will be suspicious.
The US has been anything but an honest broker in the Middle East, and calming Iranian and Palestinian suspicions (an impossible task) is an important step and a higher priority than simply going along with the Israeli War criminal.
Giving Ross the top role will confirm Iranian suspicions that the US have no intention to deal with them fairly, thus precluding the chance for diplomatic agreement, and precipitating more forceful action, even war, against Iran because of its failure to co-operate, as Dennis Ross’ recent study advocates.
THis may not be Obam's intention he may feel he has to thank the Israeli Lobby for making his Presidency possible. He may be so stupid he thinks he can dismiss, sidetrack, out - manourvre the ranks of neo-con hawks that will litter his offices from day One.
Maybe he sees himself as a genius who can devote himself to multiple serious issues—especially the economy—and still outfox representatives of the Israel Lobby on Middle East policy (who are experts on the subject, with multiple significant ties to Israel, and are devoting all their time to the issue) and establish a policy contrary to theirs and force them to carry it out properly.
It is hard to think of an American leader who did something comparable this or how it could be done. Most American presidents are highly influenced by their advisors—Washington/Hamilton, Wilson/Lansing and House, Nixon and Ford/Kissinger, Elder Bush/Baker, Younger Bush/Cheney and the neocons.
When American presidents don’t adhere to the views of a particular advisor/advisors and it is because they have significant advisors with contrary views. These counterweights in Middle East policy have yet to been seen in Obama’s emerging administration. .not forgetting the sl;avish support of israeli policy also provided by the Quartet Envoy our wonderful Tony Blair.
A partial exception was Bill Clinton, who in his second term surrounded himself with some pro-Israel hawks - Madeleine Albright. Albright and other hawks, plus the hawkish media, did get Clinton involved in the war on Serbia over Kosovo, but Clinton would only go part way ( bombing civilians from 20,000 feet was OK ) and did not commit ground troops. His mentor was fellow Arkansan Sen. J. William Fulbright*** who had strong views on the Israeli lobby.
He only agreed to fire some missiles at Saddam, though maintaining the blockade and the no-fly zones. So in a way, Bill Clinton, the consummate conman, was able to avoid the war policies of some of his leading advisors. It must be remebered however when it was decided to loose Tomahawks on Sudan and Afghanistan this wasan exceptional foil to the rank disclosure of his shenanigans with Miss Lewinskey.
Moreover, Clinton did not have to confront the serious government decisions facing Obama, who must deal with the economic meltdown, which could make or break his administration. So even to achieve results of the Clintonian level, Obama would have to be a far more able manipulator of people than Bill Clinton.
*J. William Fulbright who helped found the UN was a major opponent of the US war policy in Southeast Asia and overall American military intervention, he was also a string critic of the Israel Lobby, saying "Israel controls the United States Senate. Around 80 percent are completely in support of Israel; anything Israel wants it gets. Jewish influence in the House of Representatives is even greater.” in CBS Face the Nation on April 15, 1973. In 1974 Fulbright suffered defeat in the Democratic primary election, due in large part to the Israel Lobby. Fulbright had been head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee since 1959 and was the longest serving.
On October 21, 2002, in a speech at the dedication of the Fulbright Sculpture at the University of Arkansas, Bill Clinton who he described as "Employer, mentor, eventually supporter and friend ",said, "I admired him. I liked him. On the occasions when we disagreed, I loved arguing with him. I never loved getting in an argument with anybody as much in my entire life as I loved fighting with Bill Fulbright".
Billy Boy also said at that ceremoney - and many may ponder the answer ..
"The United States stands at a unique moment in human history.
There have only been rare periods when you could say of all the peoples of the world, one nation is truly dominant, politically, economically and militarily. That is clearly true of the United States at this moment.
It is also clearly a fleeting moment.
Within thirty years the Chinese economy should be as big or bigger than ours.
The Indian economy could be as well if they will stop fighting with Pakistan and wasting money on armaments.
Within thirty years, if the European Union continues to unite and become more a union, politically and economically, it may well be more influential politically as well as economically.
And the United States will be judged based on how we used this “magic moment.” Did we try to drive the world into the 21st century? Did we make up our mind to resolutely exterminate every threat we saw and force people to live by our vision?
Or, did we instead try to build the world where, when we’re no longer, as we say down here, the “biggest dog on the block,” people will still treat us the way we like to be treated because of the way we treated them, at our moment of ascendancy.