Dennis Ross appears to have nine lives–at least. He leaves the State Department where he had been hung out to dry by Hillary Clinton and her powerful envoys Richard Holbrooke and George Mitchell. He moves over to the White House for a vague and unspecified assignment. His buddies David Makovsky and the Wall Street Journal talk him up as if he’s going to be given the keys to the kingdom. And then by God, it happens, sort of. Yes, it’s sad but (perhaps) true:
The Cable has learned that deputy national security advisor Thomas Donilon, among others, is positioning Ross to assume an uber-senior NSC position overseeing Iran, Iraq, and the Middle East. The Iraq portfolio formerly assigned to holdover war czar Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute will be shifted to Ross, leaving Lute to focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Puneet Talwar, the NSC’s senior director for the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Iran, will report to Ross, as will Daniel Shapiro, the NSC’s senior director for the Middle East and North Africa.
…[A] group said to be concerned by Ross’s perceived takeover of Middle East turf is the team of Middle East Peace special envoy George Mitchell, which now has to contend not only with resistance from all quarters of the region, but also a rival power center in the NSC that hasn’t tended to see Middle East peace issues the same way.
The Washington Post reports the development as more of a done deal though it also inserts some well-deserved zingers against Ross for his past failures:
It’s been rumored that Ross is headed to the White House National Security Council, but now the picture of his duties seems to be getting much clearer. It does indeed appear to be a big job — a very big job. His duties will include not only Iran but also Iraq and the Middle East peace process — a move that has gotten lots of folks at the NSC very upset, not to mention special Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell.
The most controversial aspect is that Ross will take over the Iraq portfolio from Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, a three-star general who was overseeing both Iraq and Afghanistan. Now Lute will just do Afghanistan — where he’ll be working closely with envoy Richard Holbrooke — while Iraq will be part of Ross’s duties.
Interestingly, Ross has about as much experience with Iraq (virtually zero) as the new U.S. ambassador there, Christopher R. Hill. And both were key players in some of the greatest diplomatic flops of the last 20 years. Hill was point man for North Korea nuke negotiations during the Bush administration. And Ross, an early and ardent Obama backer, has lots of experience in Mideast peace efforts, having been a key player in the Clinton administration’s failed effort to broker a deal.
For the humorless or overly literal among my readers, the title of this post refers to sticking a stake in Dennis Ross’ political career, not his physical person.
a reader... says
i am utterly depressed by this… there appears to be no logic to this…
Interesting how you use violent language against those you don’t like (yes, as a joke, ha, ha) and yet I distinctly recall you getting extremely agitated by “pro-Israel” people using the same kind of language against your fellow “progressives”. I also have heard how “progressive, humanity-loving” Rahm Emanuel does the same.
As a Conservative Jew I am sure you are aware of the halachic prohibitions against Lashon Hara, foul language, bringing down curses on other people and the such. He, as a member of an Orthodox congregation also is aware of this. (This does not mean that there is a problem expressing disagreement, but there are limits on how to do it).
Or is it in politics “anything goes”?
Conrad Barwa says
I also have heard how “progressive, humanity-loving” Rahm Emanuel does the same.
Dunno where you got that idea; you must have been watching too much Sound of Music. Progressives are assholes as well; they are just assholes who happen to be right 🙂
Richard Silverstein says
Gimme a break. Lashon hara is not the same as foul language. Where did you learn your halacha? Or do you know any? And jokingly saying I hoped someone would drive a stake through Dennis Ross’ political career (which was what any reasonable person would understand as my meaning), is NOT lashon hara. Sorry, but you’ll have to do better than this.
If you read what I wrote, I stated that people do not have to agree with each other. You are entitled to say you don’t like Ross or his policies. But the use of verbal violence, even as a joke is against halacha, and you know it. You yourself have gotten quite agitated when people said similar things about you or other “progressives”. The RAMBAM speaks about how biblical and Talmudic Hebrew language does not have obscenities in it.
You did NOT say “I hoped to drive a stake through his political career”. I suggest you recheck the caption you yourself chose for this thread.
Richard Silverstein says
You’re full of crap & don’t know what I know or don’t know. Yr interpretation of halacha & what I wrote is simply dead wrong. Besides, you still haven’t provided any support for yr expertise on the subject. You are the only reader who didn’t seem to understand that my post title was metaphorical & not literal. Does that tell you something? The problem is yours my friend. Yr last post on this issue. Don’t write on this again. I’m tired & bored by this.
Conrad Barwa says
Aaron Miller made the same point about Ross in his book on how Ross managed to make the transition from the elder Bush admin to the Clinton one, unlike many of his colleagues.
Joachim Martillo says
Ross Belongs in Jail, Not Government
Arie Brand says
“you getting extremely agitated by “pro-Israel” people using the same kind of language against your fellow “progressives”.”
YBD, if you are referring to Richard’s disapproval of the language used against Chas Freeman that was not merely a matter of a choice of words. There was outright distortion and character assassination there.
As it happened I heard Freeman last night on the Australian radio program “Late Night Life” where he was being interviewed by Philip Adams.He gave some telling examples there (such as the lie that he was in the pay of the Saudis, or the distortion that he had approved of the Tianman Square massacre).
Obama must have approved of Ross being moved into this position. It contrasts strangely with his inaction in the case of Freeman. Let us hope that the suspicion of the rabid British Likudnik Melanie Phillips is correct. She wrote last month: “As predicted here repeatedly – Obama is attempting to throw Israel under the Islamist bus, and he’s getting American Jews to do his dirty work for him.”
And Ross will be subject to the same humiliating runaround he endured over at State, though the players over there are a whole lot tougher and even less enamored of this first rate loser. Only a deceitful, shameless, self promoter like Ross would put up with being jacked around when any 3rd rate clerk would have the courage & dignity to tell the boss to go f*** himself. In the history of W/H appointments I don’t believe anyone was promised so much, for so long, with so little to show for it.
You guys are agonizing over nothing.
I’ve met Ross. He’s an absolutely brilliant self assured and very proud. He has millions of dollars and doesn’t need a job. He takes a huge cut in pay to work for government.
It is idiotic to think he would allow himself to be badly treated and have a job without authority.
Obama didn’t bring in a diplomat of Ross’ stature to screw with him. Ross is brought in to run things.
If you don’t like Ross, you should be very unhappy.
Richard Silverstein says
Yikes, we’ve got a real hasbaranik here. Wonder who sent you.
On what basis do you have any authority other than yr own rightist prejudices? We’ll see how things work out. You yrself profess to detest Obama & yet you claim to know what Obama’s real motives were in hiring Ross. That’s rich.
Hate Obama? I don’t hate Obama. I hope he brings peace to the middle east. I wish him success.
Ross was allied with Obama during the campaign. Obama asked Ross to work for him. I’m sure Ross asked, like any other person taking a new job, what the job would entail. If it wasn’t to his liking, why would he take it? Certainly not for the money. Ross has millions. If the job changed and Obama decided to bypass Ross and give him a useless job without any authority, would Ross play the fool or leave? Also I think Obama is pretty straight foward. If he didn’t want Ross he would tell him so.
Actually your original post was about Ross getting a big job. Where do we disagree?
Richard Silverstein says
This is what you wrote about Obama:
It is clear that politically you detest Obama. As far as what you claim you hope Obama does–pure disingenuousness since you don’t believe he’s capable of it.
You talk as if you have an inside track to knowing what Dennis Ross thinks or believes. If you don’t, then you’re blowing smoke. I didn’t say Ross was given a useless job. Protecting Obama’s right flank fr. pro Israel pressure is actually a very important job. It just wouldn’t involve making policy.
Frankly, I’m a bit confused why Ross IS working for Obama since his book deliberately contradicts almost every major tenet of Obama’s Middle East approach.