Could Dennis Ross Set the Stage for Future War with Iran?

The threat that the United States would launch a military attack on Iran has never been "taken off the table," but you'd be hard pressed to find many people who think that a U.S. attack on Iran in the near term is a realistic possibility.

Even the Bush Administration nixed an Israel attack on Iran, as the New York Timesreported Sunday. (Haaretzreported this months ago.) President-elect Obama pledged as a candidate to abandon the "strategy" of isolation and engage Iran diplomatically. And the U.S. already has two wars going (three, if you count the war on Gaza, which is being waged with U.S. weapons and approval, and which is doing as much political damage to the U.S. in the Muslim world as any war waged by the U.S. directly.)

But many of the decisions and actions that led to the U.S. attack on Iraq in March 2003 were not taken in 2003, but long before. If we had the opportunity for a do-over, wouldn't we scrutinize those decisions and actions much more carefully? Decisions are being taken now which could set the stage for war with Iran in the future.

Recent press reports have indicated that Dennis Ross has the inside track to be a "super-envoy" in the Obama Administration with responsibility for diplomacy concerning Iran. Putting Dennis Ross in charge of diplomatic outreach to Iran would be a akin to putting Bernard Madoff in charge of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Ross's views on diplomatic engagement with Iran are the mirror image of the diplomatic engagement President-elect Obama promised during the campaign.

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My Tax Proposal

I'm sick to death of my tax dollars going to fund some right-wing nutjobs in third world countries.  I hate that my tax dollars go to Israel without any preconditions on the settlements.  I abhor the fact that my taxes are going to prop up dictators around the world.

So I have a proposal:

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Calling Out Bush's War in Gaza

It may well be that in denouncing "Israel's" attack on Gaza one, in an important way, unwittingly does a disservice to the cause of holding the Bush Administration accountable for its crimes.

Is there any doubt that the Bush Administration approved this assault? Is there any doubt that it could not have taken place without the Bush Administration's approval?

Is there any doubt that it could not continue without the support of the Bush Administration and the protective umbrella of its veto at the UN Security Council? Is there any doubt that it will stop the very day that the Bush Administration says that it must?

If so, is it in the interest of humanity that we Americans engage in the charade that the Israeli government is an autonomous actor in this matter?

All these observations are true in general, but we have plenty of specific evidence in this case.

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Obama Clinton Gates Jones Foreign Policy

(Proudly cross-posted at C4O Democrats)

I know there's been plenty of chatter lately on President-Elect Obama's foreign policy. In particular, I've heard the usual Beltway Pundits proclaim Obama must abandon his "leftist dovishness" and embrace his inner "center-right hawk" to be a "credible Commander-in-Chief". Meanwhile, I'm also seeing some progressives wail in despair over how Obama is supposedly abandoning them for "neocon-lite".

But what if both camps are wrong? What if today's revelation of the foreign policy/national security wing of the Obama Administration reveals something completely different? Hold on, because you may be surprised.

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Hillary at State

In spite of the somewhat puerile and inflammatory reporting of every little ebb and flow of the protracted negotiations surrounding Senator Clinton's imminent appointment as Secretary of State it seems the main actors in this unfolding development, Obama, Hillary and Bill, have conducted their respective roles with sobriety, meticulous attention to detail and unflinching good will which is at once apparently 'out of character' and yet indicative of a serious common purpose.

And while we are presented with commentary, much of it dissenting, from both the Obama and Clinton camps, it seems increasingly clear that the 'political' aspects to this unexpected appointment are not the motivation nor the cause of the lengthy deliberations in this process.

Here is a possible scenario which refutes or avoids most of the 'pros and cons' being debated publicly on the subject, and while it draws a long bow it has some inherent logic which may go a long way to explain both the motivations and issues surrounding this otherwise counter-intuitive offer.  It is premised on the following assumptions, that:


1.  Unravelling the Gordian Knot of a durable and lasting Israeli/Palestinian settlement is the key to resolving the global conflict between Islamic militancy and the worldwide trend toward liberal democracy.

2.  The differences between Senator Obama's and Senator Clinton's foreign policy, and that of their respective camps, while seeming to lose their distinctions in the posturing of the latter stages of the primary campaign are genuine and represent a clear schism in Democratic policy.

3.  The conservative hard-line positions and concerns of the Israeli right and AIPAC, which arguably has a disproportionate influence in both nations with which it is affiliated, must be assuaged and that only trusted actors would be acceptable to achieve a serious and permanent settlement

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that a Israeli/Palestinian solution is at the heart of this appointment there could be a powerful pressure brought to bear on Israel with Hillary's bona fides as a relatively conservative but powerful voice for American constituencies who might come to understand that a settlement there is our best chance to a successful prosecution of the 'war' on terrorism, as Hendirk Hertzberg notes:


The team of Barack "Grandpa Was a Muslim" Obama, Hillary "I'm a Clinton" Clinton, and Rahm "Israel" Emanuel (that's his real middle name! and he was a volunteer with the I.D.F. during the 1991 Gulf War!), with Joe Biden and Bill Clinton pitching in as necessary, would put the new Administration in an extremely powerful position to apply the kind of pressure that would give Israeli politicians the political cover they need to reach a settlement with the Palestinians. Everyone knows what the deal would look like, including Ehud Olmert. It's a question of having the political strength and exerting the will to make it happen.

Of course, the path could get awfully bumpy if the Palestinians can't manage to get their act together, and if, as seems probable, Bibi Netanyahu wins the next Israeli election. On the other hand, a settlement to which Bibi was a party would likely be as durable as Menachem Begin's peace treaty with Egypt.

Hendirk Hertzberg - The 'A' Team The New Yorker 20 Nov 08

One might further assume that that this overarching policy initiative was part of the challenging offer formally made to Hillary from the outset and that the conditions for her appointment include agreement that this is a prize for which the setting aside of 'political' considerations is worthwhile and that the uniting of their respective reputations and political allegiances in common cause pays significant dividends.  It may even be argued that neither could achieve such an ambitious outcome without the other.

In this context much of the speculation, leaked opinions and mundane political machinations publicly aired in the past week seem petty and unimportant.  One can easily understand the difficult choice presented to Hillary and admire her for rising to the occasion, along with her husband, to take the opportunity presented to genuinely share the accomplishment, clearly on her own merits, of such a momentous objective.

And while this is clearly supposition it does seem consistent with President-elect Obama's long standing theme of putting aside 'old' politics in the interest of pragmatic solutions to the challenges facing the US and resolving them for our mutual benefit using all the myriad resources at our disposal, irrespective of partisan positions, mundane ambitions and ideologies.

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Diaries

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