If I truly thought this meant a major change in Barack Obama’s Middle East approach I’d be rejoicing at the news that Dennis Ross was resigning as the president’s go-to guy for anything regarding the Israeli-Arab conflict. He is one of the most pernicious influences in American policy going back decades. His allegiance is clearly to the Israelis and he clearly sees the Palestinians and Arabs in general as authors of their own misery. His approach to them has always been condescending as anyone can tell by reading the offers Mahmoud Abbas was entertaining from Israel and the U.S. in the Palestine Papers.
But the NY Times report, if true, indicates that Ross is leaving for personal, rather than policy reasons. This indicates that Obama policy will remain in the rut it’s been stuck in for ages. In fact, we can write off any major constructive intervention for the remainder of any Obama presidency. Which means that the next war, whether in Iran, Syria, Gaza or Lebanon is just around the corner. And when it breaks out we’ll have some Obama administration flack telling the world that Israel’s bombing of civilian targets will signify the birth pangs of democracy in the Middle East. With any luck those words might be spoken by a Secretary of State who actually experienced the real suffering of real birth pangs, unlike Condi Rice, who never did.
I don’t know how the rest of the world will react to this news. I can’t imagine it will motivate the Quartet or EU to take any new initiatives, which means the entire world is leaving it to two recalcitrant enemies to sort out their differences any which way they can–including by war if necessary. I wonder whether this might tend to make the world more sympathetic to Palestinian inspired initiatives like the one for Palestinian statehood. When a major power like the U.S. leaves a vacuum, other forces and factors come into play. Most will be negative, but some may be sleepers and surprise us, like BDS or the statehood initiative.
This is a sad day because it means that while a negative influence is gone from U.S. policymaking, no one and nothing is taking his place. This is the equivalent of benign neglect without the “benign.”
But has be resigned, or was he pushed?
Note the eulogy from the White House spokesman who went out of his way to praise Ross for his work on the sanctions against Iran.
And consider that somebody within the Obama Administration must have hatched the Cunning Plan of using Amano to sex up the IAEA reports on Iran.
A Cunning Plan that now appears to be a monumental fiasco, since its outcome appears to that Russia is bringing Iran under its wing.
You’d think that whoever was responsible for that stunningly misplaced policy advice would be shown the door.
Oh, gosh, wadda surprise, Dennis just resigned……
How to measure Ross’ Very Special Talents?
I can do no better than to remind everyone that Ross is a man who couldn’t even get Netanyahu to agree to take twenty shiny-new, no-money-to-pay F-35 stealth fighters off his hands.
And, let’s face it, if you can’t clinch THAT deal then you really have no business sitting down at the negotiating table.
From the standpoint of Dennis Ross and the Likudniks it is truly matter of “mission accomplished”. They have prevented yet another administration from achieving any progress towards a comprehensive settlement. They have ensured that the billions of U.S. taxpayers’ dollars will continue to flow from the U.S. to Israel.
There is little doubt that the U.S. will continue to exercise its veto in the UN Security Council at the behest of Israel. (It is in practice more Israel’s veto than the US’s.) Israel has been supplied by the U.S. with the latest bunker-buster bombs, and it is now free to bomb Iran at will without “coordinating” with the U.S. And most importantly, the illegal Israeli settlements (a/k/a “neighborhoods”) in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank (a/k/a “disputed territory”) are growing like well-fertilized weeds.
Job well done, Dennis Ross and AIPAC! AIPAC can now devote itself to ingratiating itself with both sides in the upcoming presidential election, after which they can once again help staff the victor’s administration.
Mark Smulian says
The tragedy is of course that all this obtuse behavior will simply lead to more tragedy. AIPAC and all they represent are actually leading us all to a sadder and for them less influential future…which I personally think is a good thing, but can have severe repercussions for many people who are just leading their lives safely in the US