Home > Commentary, Iran > Senior Adviser on Middle East Peace Turned Over

Senior Adviser on Middle East Peace Turned Over

Just one week ago, The Washington Post reported that Dennis Ross, a senior adviser for the State Department on Iran and former heavy-hand in Middle East peace negotiations, was a “diplomatic troubleshooter…legendary talker.”

As one of the main architects of the Obama administration’s Iran policy, Ross is crafting a way to reach out to Iran to persuade its leaders to abandon any plan to develop nuclear weapons. President Obama says this effort will have to show results by the end of the year.

Imagine their surprise when news broke of Ross’ transfer to the National Security Council Monday. A speculative uproar followed.

Al Jazeera English wrote, “The White House and state department declined to comment on the matter but denied a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Ross was being removed from his job.”

According to Haaretz, Iran objected to Ross’ Jewish heritage and his close ties to Israeli civil and defense government officials.

Ross also endorsed military action against Iran with former journalist and co-author David Makovsky in their new book, “Myths, Illusion and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East.”

“Tougher policies – either militarily or meaningful containment – will be easier to sell internationally and domestically if we have diplomatically tried to resolve our differences with Iran in a serious and credible fashion,” they wrote.

Haaretz also speculates that Ross may have been dissatisfied with his position in the State Department, especially considering the rise of George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke, two other Washington envoys whose clout has surpassed that of Ross.

Of these suppositions, it seems most likely that the man who was once behind Iran foreign policy came to be seen as a diplomatic handicap for a cautious administration.

“…in the Middle East, many officials view him as too pro-Israel, raising concerns about whether he is the right person for the job of coaxing the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Even a former colleague, Aaron David Miller, wrote last year that “Dennis, like myself, had an inherent tendency to see the world of Arab-Israeli politics first from Israel’s vantage point.”

Whatever the truth behind Ross’ move, his absence may make it easier for the Obama administration to gingerly coax Iran out of its nuclear amibtions, support of terrorism, and other great diplomatic misdeeds.

— Tina Carter, Trinity ’10
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