Colin Powell for Middle East Envoy — Dennis Ross for US Ambassador to Israel

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Recently, Politico issued a roster of top policy and political hands who would be in line for key positions in an Obama government.
At the time, I thought it very odd that Clinton Middle East coordinator Dennis Ross was not on the list. Ross was rumored to be one of the four competing to be national security adviser to Barack Obama — along with James Steinberg, Susan Rice, and Gregory Craig.
Now we know that General Jim Jones will be National Security Adviser. Former Warren Christopher aide Tom Donilon will probably be his deputy. Jim Steinberg will be Deputy at Hillary Clinton’s Department of State, and Susan Rice will be the second Ambassador to the United Nations to follow the destructive tenure of the recess-appointed John Bolton.
But Dennis Ross has still not been selected for anything yet — and his visibility has been low (well except for this disturbing “let’s bomb Iran now and get it over with” report). There aren’t a lot of rumors about him — and there should be. He’s an accomplished diplomat who should be in the mix somewhere — but not just anywhere.
Ross is much more hawkish on Iran than I am. While I’m impressed with his ability to simultaneously sell conflicting themes — like on one hand he wants to bomb Iran and undermine any engagement with Hamas while on the other he desires the sort of dovish position advocated by Search for Common Ground — Dennis Ross is much more comfortable with neoconservatives than realists or liberal internationalists.
Dennis Ross, who I enjoy at a personal level and who I like to debate, is nonetheless part of the never-ending Middle East peace business in the country, and that is a business that needs to be put out of business.
Ross is close to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He would make an excellent U.S. Ambassador to Israel. Much better an Ambassador there — than someone tasked with negotiating with Iran or trying to broker the birth of a viable Palestinian state.
Two of Ross’ closest associates are Robert Satloff and James Woolsey — and neither of these two believe in assembling all of the key stakeholders in the Middle East that are needed to stabilize Iraq, get Iran on a new track, and establish a viable, successful Palestine next to a secure Israel.
Until the leaks about Susan Rice’s appointment to serve American interests in the United Nations, I thought Ross would be a good shoe-in there as well.
And then I heard someone saying what I thought on TV today.
Zbigniew Brzezinski was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe talking with a panel of folks, including his daughter Mika Brzezinski, about his co-authored book with Brent Scowcroft and David Ignatius (which I had a hand in initiating and sponsoring) and about moving in a more productive direction in the Middle East.
Brzezinski said that after Obama made some clarifying statements about his objectives in the Middle East, he should appoint people to help achieve his goals.
Zbig dropped some names — some big ones….and I liked how he did it.
He said hypothetically, Colin Powell could be the person asked to do the broad negotiating and arm twisting to achieve the Obama administration’s foreign policy objectives with Iran and in Arab-Israel peace negotiations.
Brzezinski then said that Dennis Ross would make an excellent and important US Ambassador to Israel.
I think he’s right — and it’s time to start whispering about Ross’s fate again and get him back in the mix as envoy to Tel Aviv — but not as czar of Middle East negotiations. With Jim Jones, Bob Gates, and others in the mix — that would be paralyzing.
But Colin Powell, Chuck Hagel, Richard Lugar, or even Richard Armitage — those could be smart and interesting choices.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

57 comments on “Colin Powell for Middle East Envoy — Dennis Ross for US Ambassador to Israel

  1. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag, I`m glad you nuanced your statement. Actually, there
    is an ocean between your former general statement and the
    latter analysis. I thing I agree at least 90 % with your responding
    post.
    Your first broad statement was so general that it looked like a
    prejudice. It´s like if we Europeans went on saying that “the
    Americans are ignorant racists and homophobes” (which we
    actually often do!). Said like that, it`s plain anti-Americanism
    and prejudice. Yeah, there is a grain of truth somewhere in
    there: the decline in education, the obvious and not-so-obvious
    racism and homophobia. Still: a prejudice.
    And BTW: Though I agree that very old structures (also mental
    structures) just don`t go away within a generation or two; I also
    believe that we are witnessing a real revolution right now:
    unfortunately not regarding the anti-arab sentiments in Europe
    nor the decline in US education, but regarding homophobia and
    American racism (despite recent back clashes re. marriage, and
    back clashes that no doubt will happen in the future as well).
    The same applies to the gender conflicts and women. This, I
    think, actually is a revolution, regardless of the back clashes.
    This also applies to a certain extent to the Europeans, how they
    deal with their own history: “Europeans are not better or worse
    than anyone else, but they are far more willing to criticize
    others and at the same time fail to honestly assess their own
    history. They’re kind of like Americans in this way.”
    I would claim that in that heart of darkness called Deutchland,
    this is not true anymore, and that is an important fact. Germany
    is a model country regarding how they have dealt with their
    dark past in the last 30-40 years, and one would hope that
    others could learn from them, for example Turkey re. their
    treatment of the Armenians. This of course does not imply that
    their view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is uncolored by their
    past.
    Unfortunately, Eastern Germany and several Eastern Europe
    countries did not deal with this issue the same way. My guess is
    that their communist leaders said to them: “Look, we won the
    struggle against fascism, against evil”; thus there was no need
    to deal with their own anti-Semitic crimes and mentality.
    The French have had difficulties dealing with their past – partly
    due to their unwillingness to admit their complicity in the Vichy
    regime; and you could arguably say the same about the
    Austrians.
    On the other hand, England post WWII was more or less like the
    communists countries in the East: they stood up and fought
    against Hitler, so why should they deal with their imperial past?
    Again, what I said above is also rather broad generalizations,
    but it shows that the picture is rather complex. The worst
    tendencies right now is the fusion of good old racism and
    militant, secular modernity we are witnessing in Holland, France
    and Denmark (I`m afraid it may seriously infect Norway as well
    in the coming years), but this is something I know you are
    familiar with. Their paradoxical “modernity” allow them to be
    pro gays, pro women, and anti Arab, anti Muslim.
    However, I think your main point above, that the European way
    to deal with the Israel-Palestine has more to do with their past,
    while the US motives are largely geopolitical and related to
    energy issues, has a grain of truth (though there is a lot more to
    say about this too).
    In any case, I share your pessimism regarding Israel-Palestine.
    And I am glad we have a blog/forum like TWN, where we can
    discuss these mindlessly complex issues. Some of your posts,
    WigWag, where you combine knowledge, cold analyzes and
    passion, are currently among the best at The Washington Note.

    Reply

  2. WigWag says:

    Hi Paul, it’s nice to hear from you. I don’t think it’s any more unrealistic to point out the deep strains of Anti-Semitism that pervade Europe than to point out that even today, despite the election of Obama, the United States is still a racist and homophobic country. The facts are the facts.
    In the United States, measures like proposition 8 have passed in state election after state election not just this year but for the past several years. African Americans still experience poverty at far higher levels than whites do and the communities they live in are still dramatically underserved by government compared to affluent white areas. While this doesn’t mean that every American is racist or homophobic, as a society, America is racist and homophobic.
    In Europe, a good deal of the current racism is directed against its Muslim residence. There’s nothing idiosyncratic about my pointing that out. It’s just obvious. The rise of anti-immigrant political parties all over Europe; the seething slums of Paris that periodically explode because the citizens who live there aren’t integrated into French society; the way the British government treats its residents from South Asia; the anti-immigrant ravings of the late Dutch politician, Pim Fortyuyn and the current ravings of Geert Wilders. And let’s not forget the populist xenophobia that is becoming more pervasive in your neighbor, Sweden. I could go on and on.
    And Paul, that’s just Europe’s treatment of its Muslims. Of course, Europe no longer has any Jews to mistreat; it’s exterminated them, not 500 years ago and not 250 years ago, but less than 75 years ago. But that was only the culmination of a history of brutality against Jews that went on for 1,000 years. You know the expulsions from England, France, Spain and Portugal; the Spanish inquisition; the Papal States and their forced conversions of Jews, the pogroms in Eastern Europe.
    So what is it you’re trying to tell me? Do you really think that after a thousand year history of Anti-Semitism culminating in Hitler’s final solution (that was abetted not just by the Nazis but by the French, the Poles, and the Slovaks and by many others) that Europe has magically purged itself of Anti-Semitism in the past few decades? Do you really think a thousand year history of disdain of Jews disappeared in half a century?
    Europeans are not better or worse than anyone else, but they are far more willing to criticize others and at the same time fail to honestly assess their own history. They’re kind of like Americans in this way.
    So I don’t think it’s ridiculous at all to point out that Europe’s view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is colored by their millennium long history of Anti-Semitism and its current fear and loathing of its Muslim residents.
    One last thing; I don’t think it’s particularly sporting of you to take a comment that I carelessly made about the Iranians out of context like you have here. As for the Chinese and Indians, I just don’t have an opinion.

    Reply

  3. Paul Norheim says:

    Why do the Europeans want peace in the Middle East?
    Because the Europeans “are anti-Semitic in the broadest sense
    of the word” (WigWag)
    This must be the broadest generalisation I`ve seen for a while
    here at TWN.
    We have already learned from WigWag that the Iranians are
    lunatics, and her Europhobia is well known, but honestly, I
    didn`t know that the Europeans still are anti-Semitic.
    I`m curious about what she has to say about the Chinese, the
    Indians – in general?
    It`s a shame, because WigWag had a lot of interesting
    perspectives in her comments above.

    Reply

  4. DonS says:

    Wigwag, thanks for explaining your position further. The point about the Israel-Sunnai alliance as a stimulus for an American diplomatic push is notable, and a nicely cynical note to the realist’s approach.
    I’m no less optimistic than you about the desire of the parties for peace, if it entails giving up some sacred cows. But it seems that things can turn on a dime these days; but maybe not there. If me and my Jewish friends had a hand in it, there would be peace tomorrow, with the Israelis letting go of their fetishes. But we’re not Israelis.
    Good luck with you heartburn worries. We ate pretty light, for a Thanksgiving.

    Reply

  5. WigWag says:

    DonS, I think that you may be misconstruing my point. I am not defending the deplorable conditions under which most Palestinians live and I would be happy to see the Israelis take some real chances for peace. Of course this is easy for me to say. After all, I am typing this from a warm and safe home after enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with my family. I’m more worried about the heart burn I might have tonight than the possibility that I will be the victim of a suicide bomber or a missile attack.
    The point I was trying to make in my earlier comments is that there will never be peace between the Israelis and Palestinians as long as the Europeans and the Americans have a more enthusiastic desire for peace than the parties do.
    European and American elites want peace between the Israelis and Palestinians for the most selfish reasons. The Europeans are anti-Semitic in the broadest sense of the word. They have a long historical disdain for Semitic people like Jews and Arabs. How else do you explain the fact that in the memory of people still alive, millions of Europeans either actively or passively participated in the destruction of their entire Jewish population? How do you explain the fact that they imported millions of Muslims to fill their most menial jobs and then locked them away in ghettos, refused to let them practice their religion (e.g. no head scarves in French Schools) and allowed them to live in abject poverty? It’s not difficult to integrate Arabs or other Muslims into Western Society; the United States has done it extraordinarily effectively. Why do the Europeans want peace? Because they are particularly anxious to purge from their memories anything that reminds them of Jews and because they hope against hope that it will help tamp down the growing anger of their restive Muslim populations (it won’t).
    Why are American opinion leaders so anxious for an agreement? Because they hope that it will have geopolitical benefits that will make America’s position in the world less complicated. One thing that many realist foreign policy experts expect is that peace between the Israelis and Palestinians will lead to an alliance between Israel and the Sunni Arab states against the Shia in Iran. The surprising thing is that the Saudis, Jordanians and Egyptians are so afraid of the Iranians that it just might happen.
    The problem is that there is nothing Europe or the United States can do to make either the Israelis or Palestinians accept terms that they think will make their lives worse not better.
    Sure, both sides want peace, but they want it on their terms and they are not willing to make the compromises necessary to achieve it. And there is nothing Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Colin Powell, Tony Blair or anyone else can do about it.
    As I said in my earlier post, everyone understands the major elements of a peace deal. Scowcroft and Brzezinski outlined them; so have many others. The problem is that these elements are unacceptable to both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Both sides would prefer the current cold war that exists between them and they want a “peace business” that prevents that cold war from turning into a “hot” war (at least too often).
    The Palestinians will not give up the right to return for their refugees and Hamas will not give up its aspiration for a Greater Palestine. Moreover, while Hamas will share power with Fatah, they will not give up control of Gaza whether or not they lose the next election (in April or some other time). As bad as conditions are for the Palestinians, both Fatah and Hamas prefer the status quo to making the compromises that Scowcroft and Brzezinski (and everyone else) says are necessary.
    The Israelis will not share Jerusalem and will not go through the wrenching turmoil of removing the settlers when the only potential payoff is a promise of a peace that will leave them more vulnerable than they are now; they also prefer the status quo.
    And DonS, I laugh when people say that it’s the political elites in Israel and Palestine that can’t make a deal, but the people really want peace. Oh really? If that’s true why it is that two years ago the Palestinians elected Hamas, providing them with an outright majority in the Palestinian legislature? And why is it that (if polls are to be believed) Benjamin Netanyahu is likely to be elected the next Prime Minister of Israel this coming February and the Likud Party is likely to win the most seats in the Knesset?
    If Palestinians and Israelis really preferred peace to the status quo they would both be electing their most dovish political parties not their most recalcitrant political parties.
    The smart thing for President-Elect Obama to do would be to send Dennis Ross over to the Middle East for eight years and give both parties what they really want; a peace process that prevents the cold war that they have chosen from turning into the hot war that no one wants.

    Reply

  6. DonS says:

    Wigwag, I appreciated your extensive posts, from which I excerpt and comment as follows:
    “The Bush Administration’s neglect of the Israel-Palestine dispute for six of their eight years in office did not prove to be a viable strategy. But as long as peace is unachievable, the “peace business” is the best we can hope for.”
    I didn’t fathom this comment, which you however clarified in the ensuing post:
    “Peace between these parties is not currently possible. But the illusion of a peace process does help keep things under control for both sides. ”
    Constant Israeli internal discord, and astronomic rates of poverty for the Palestinians is a pretty cynical, though accurate factually, description of “under control”.
    What is the benefit of the “peace business” as Steve uses the terms and as you exalt its necessity: to provide mere window dressing for continued Israeli hegemony over a prison camp? That’s morally indefensible. And what about the domestic and international political implications? No, return to status quo “peace business” get’s us nowhere good.
    Now I’m not convinced that Steve’s got it right either, in the sense of Obama really having a will to override AIPAC-influenced approaches. But it’s certainly worth the try.

    Reply

  7. Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi says:

    dear steve, in my view the case of collin powell seems different this time since he must have have feeling of deep plight and mortification as he had pleaded a wrong casus belli regarding the US invasion of Iraq and positively by this time he may rebound with more force of realisation and justice to intervene as the Mideast envoy.

    Reply

  8. arthurdecco says:

    John H said: “Good luck getting answers. Maybe it’s simply easier to continue following the herd’s failed assumptions about American power and the national interest than to think about why the herd is heading in that direction at all.”
    JohnH, I never stop to praise your input here on the Washington Note, though I read you with respect and close attention always. This quoted point in your latest post is particularly salient. Thank you. (And thanks for your consistently clear-eyed opinions on a wide range of subjects, btw.)
    “but if your purpose is to somehow tell people that they shouldn’t be part of this blog community, then you need to leave or you’ll be banned. That won’t be tolerated.” Posted by Steve Clemons
    Mr. Clemons, I would have assumed someone who lives and works in the heady, emotionally charged world of Politikal Washington, DC would have developed a thicker skin than the one you’re displaying in this exchange with antiphone.
    Surely your opinions and policy positions are strong enough to withstand the onslaughts of an antagonist like antiphone? …Yes?…No?
    “…need to leave or…be banned…won’t be tolerated.” seem a tad over the top as responses to a critic of your blog and/or your methods.
    Personally, I like the tension created by discordant voices because they make arguments and stated positions stronger (if your arguments have the required strength to withstand the onslaughts of doubters and naysayers like antiphone, for example). & if your arguments aren’t able to stand up under that kind of harsh criticism, it may be time to re-evaluate your positions rather than threatening those who don’t agree with your opinions or methods with banishment, don’t you think?

    Reply

  9. WigWag says:

    Matthew, thank you for responding to me. I agree with much of what you say, but I don’t see how it refutes my point that the governments in both Israel and the West Bank/Gaza have a greater incentive to maintain the status quo than accept the elements that Scowcroft and Brzezinski outlined.
    Let me emphasize that I never called Palestinians Mafioso. I analogized Fatah and Hamas to warring Mafioso families. While not perfect, I think the metaphor is apt.
    Certainly Israel’s departure from Gaza was unilateral and should have been negotiated with the Palestinian Authority. Had a negotiated withdrawal occurred things might be somewhat better. But the reality is that it’s not just the Israelis who want Gaza encircled. The total closure of Gaza has been supported and abetted by the Egyptians who have no interest in allowing Gazans into Egypt. The Egyptian Government is as hostile (and perhaps more hostile) to Hamas (related as it is to the Muslim Brotherhood) as the Israelis are. And the closure of Gaza has been accomplished with the full acquiescence, if not full throated support of Mahmoud Abbas, Salam Fayyad and the Palestinian Authority.
    I am not sure what to make of your comments about the Israeli economy. I never compared it in size to the American economy. But Israeli per capita GDP is $27,146 (compared to $1,100 for the West Bank and Gaza). The Israeli per capita GDP approaches that of the European Union ($32,700) and exceeds that of countries like Portugal, Poland, The Czech Republic and Puerto Rico). Despite their oil wealth, the Israeli GDP is also much greater than the GDP of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Libya and Venezuela. It is ridiculous for the United States to be providing Israel with $30 billion in aid over ten years. If things keep going the way they are, the US is likely to need the Israelis to subsidize America.
    And your comment about Israel’s economy being reliant on the military industrial complex is not accurate. Certainly military exports are an important part of the economy but Israel also has the second largest number of companies listed on the NASDAQ (after the United States) and has thriving pharmaceutical, agricultural, environmental and high tech sectors.
    As for your comment about Israelis facing a falling standard of living; the poverty rate in Israel is about 22 percent; the poverty rate in the United States is 16 percent.
    Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are likely to agree to the requirements articulated by Scowcroft/Brzezinski unless they are convinced that an agreement has more of an upside than a downside. For the Israeli’s sharing Jerusalem and confronting their fanatic settlers is a very big deal. For the Palestinians, accepting Israel’s right to exist and turning their backs on their refugees is a very big deal.
    At the end of the day, both sides will follow the path of least resistance. That path leads to a continuation of the conflict. Peace between these parties is not currently possible. But the illusion of a peace process does help keep things under control for both sides. I believe that both sides are actually more interested in a peace process than in the realities that real peace would entail.
    That’s why the “peace business” is needed as much now as ever.
    To paraphrase Paul Simon; where have you gone Dennis Ross, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you!

    Reply

  10. Matthew says:

    Wigwag: You make some interesting points, but the successes of Israel and the failures of the Palestinians are overstated.
    1. Israel has a relatively small economy that is massively weighted to the M-I Complex. Israel has a GDP of about $165 billion; the USA, $14 trillion. That’s like comparing pennies to 10-dollar bills. Considering that just the US alone is giving Israel about $30 billion in military aid over the next decade is an astounding figure. When you consider how much foreign aid Israel gets, it’s one of the most subsidized economies in the world. (You also fail to mention the dropping standard of living of many Israelis. As we know, some countries, like Russia, create a lot of wealth–it’s just not getting to a lot of people.)
    2. Gaza is a failed experiment–by design. As you probably know, when Israel left, they didn’t mean the Gazans could (a) open a port; (b) trade with others freely; (c) have an airport; (d) or travel freely. Who wants to invest in a prison? Instead, Gaza has been intentionally starved and its economy frozen. I fully understand Israel wanting to control its own border crossings into Gaza. I do not understand why they have a right to control Gazans freedom to travel to anywhere but Israel. This seige–which predated the Hamas election (“takeover” is a joke: Dahlan tried to overturn a free election)–shows that Israel was never interested in allowing a Palestinian success.
    And why not? If Gaza had succeeded after Israel “left,” then the pressure to quit the West Bank would have been tremendous. Instead, people can write blogs about how the Palestinians are just mafiosi. See, it worked.

    Reply

  11. bert swanson says:

    Dear Mr. Clemons,
    I’m distressed by your support of Mr. Ross as the Ambassador to Israel. Please don’t burden President Obama with neo-con supporters. They are responsible for the unnecessary war in Iraq and should not be given a voice nor a prominent position for the best interest of the country. The war is partly responsible for our current economic plight.
    Our Ambassadors should be chosen for what’s in the best of the our country, not as a advocate for any particular other country. To bomb Iran is in nobody’s interest, even Israel, and would accelerate conflict in the Middle-East as well as do great harm to all oil importing nations.
    Your support of Mr. Ross because he is wise and someone whom you have a personal relations is foolish. This makes you a fool! We can’t endure any more nonsense that the neo-cons have brought upon us, no matter how bright they may be.

    Reply

  12. WigWag says:

    President-Elect Obama and Senator Clinton agree with Steve Clemons that it’s time to put the Middle East “peace business” out of business and instead make a final push towards real peace. Obama, Clinton and Clemons are wrong.
    By accepting President Elect Obama’s invitation to become Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has destroyed her career. Obama selected her because he knows that she is one of the two politicians in America most capable of actually negotiating a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians (the other is Bill Clinton). The idea that Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, Dick Lugar or Chuck Hagel would be effective negotiators is ludicrous. Just what on the resumes of any of these politicians suggests the likelihood of success? Obama picked Clinton because he genuinely believes she is smart and tenacious enough to deliver a deal and because she, more than anyone else, is in a position to cajole the Israelis into making unpalatable choices. Clinton accepted because brokering a peace deal is unfinished business for her family and because it is the type of achievement that would be remembered for ever. She thinks she can do it. President-Elect Obama and Hillary Clinton are both wrong. She will fail at bringing the sides together, not for lack of trying, but because under the present circumstances, a deal is not achievable.
    The Israel-Palestine dispute will be Senator Clinton’s waterloo. It will be her second major failure (health care reform was the first). And she will not be able to recover from it politically. Senator Clinton was the most well equipped person in America to forge a health care deal in the 1990s. She knew more about the subject than anyone and she worked tirelessly to bring it about. She failed not for lack of trying and not because she made serious mistakes, but because during an era when the American public still disliked “big Government,” universal health care was simply a bridge too far for her or for anyone else. Similarly a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians is a bridge too far.
    In their recent Washington Post op ed Brent Scowcroft and Zbig Brzezinski laid out the 5 elements that everyone knows will be required for peace to be achieved: (1) Israel’s return to its 1967 borders with small, mutually agreed upon modifications that provide territorial compensation to the Palestinians; (2) a demilitarized Palestinian state; (3) no right of return to Israeli territory for Palestinian refuges but instead refugees will be compensated financially by the international community; (4) a shared Jerusalem which is the Capitol of both states and (5) a Nato peacekeeping presence on the Palestinian side of the border to insure Israeli security and train Palestinian police.
    The Israeli and Palestinian governments are both far too invested in the status quo to agree to the elements that Scowcroft and Brzezinski outline. Nothing Senator Clinton says or does will change that. Failure for her (or anyone else) is virtually guaranteed.
    The Israelis currently enjoy the fastest growing economy in the developed world. They are one of the few countries in the world to have a positive trade balance with China which is buying the output of their defense industry at unprecedented levels. Their pharmaceutical industry is booming and the shekel is one of the few currencies that has actually appreciated versus the dollar since the financial crisis hit. Despite the world wide financial meltdown, growth is expected to be a respectable 3 percent this year and unlike the rest of the world the Israelis have a little inflation (about 3.5 percent) which is far better than deflation that is threatening other developed country. They are lucky to have Stanley Fischer running their Central Bank. Fischer is widely admired as the most competent central banker anywhere.
    Israel faces major strategic challenges from Hezbollah and Iran, but the Palestinians are little more than a nuisance. Yes, the rockets they launch from Gaza into the Negev fray the nerves of people living in Sderot, but they rarely cause property damage and even more rarely cause death. The current armistice with Hamas has quieted things down, but if necessary, a major incursion into Gaza will temporarily eliminate the problem. Israel can make these incursions as often as necessary to deal with Hamas and its rockets. And whatever the moral calculus, the threat of suicide bombers from the West Bank has been neutralized by the security fence.
    Under these circumstances, why would Israel share Jerusalem and go through the turmoil of removing the settlers? What do they get in return but the potential for rockets to be aimed at them from the West Bank as well as Gaza? Can they count on Nato to prevent Palestinians from rearming more successfully than French peacekeepers in Lebanon have prevented the rearming of Hezbollah? Why should Israelis think that peace will afford them a better life than a long term cold war with the Palestinians that only occasionally turns hot? Benjamin Netanyahu is likely to be elected the next Prime Minister of Israel. The idea of getting him to sign on to a deal seems highly unlikely.
    And what incentive does the Palestinian side have? They don’t really have a government; Fatah and Hamas are not political parties, they’re more like mafia families that hate each other even more than they hate their common enemy. The Palestinian Authority/Fatah has called for elections in April that Hamas says are illegal and is unlikely to participate in. Even if the elections are held in April, does anyone expect Hamas to voluntarily give up power in Gaza in the unlikely event that they lose the elections there? Does anyone think that the Palestinian Authority/Fatah will ever accept Hamas rule in Gaza or anywhere else should Hamas win the election? After all, Fatah didn’t accept the Hamas victory the first time around anymore than the Israelis or Americans did. Which is more important to the Palestinian Authority/Fatah, peace with Israel or the destruction of Hamas? Anyone who knows anything about civil wars knows that they are far more destructive and virulent than wars against foreign enemies.
    As much as they hate Israel, do Palestinians on the West Bank really have great hopes for their lives under a corrupt and ineffectual Palestinian Authority? And in Gaza, will Hamas ever come to terms with the fact that Israel isn’t going away? Is it realistic to expect Hamas to sign on to the Brzezinski-Scowcroft deal that would forever destroy their ambition of a greater Palestine and stab the refugees in the back? All for what; the prospect of having Nato troops stationed throughout Gaza and the West Bank, potentially for decades? And does Nato really want to devote thousands of troops and billions of dollars to policing a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians? How long will it be before the Palestinians view them as occupiers?
    Steve Clemons says “Dennis Ross, who I enjoy at a personal level and who I like to debate, is nonetheless part of the never-ending Middle East peace business in the country, and that is a business that needs to be put out of business.” Respectfully, I think Steve Clemons is wrong, we don’t need to put the “Middle East peace business” out of business, we need to ramp it up again. And Dennis Ross is the perfect person to do that. The Bush Administration’s neglect of the Israel-Palestine dispute for six of their eight years in office did not prove to be a viable strategy. But as long as peace is unachievable, the “peace business” is the best we can hope for.

    Reply

  13. R. Griego says:

    Powell are you nets? Anyone associated with the failed policy of the present administration should not be considered. What is needed is an idividual who is 1. Know to the players and known and respected by the in the Middle East, 2. Speaks the language, 3. Has been involved in the Middle East talks over the years.
    If you are suggesting failure keep it up and you will get your wish.

    Reply

  14. DonS says:

    Obama was for change.
    Gates signals more of the same.
    Simple as that.
    ————
    Dan Kervick thinks ‘Gates’ says Obama is kicking the can down the road a year or so.
    Steve Clemons thinks ‘Gates’ says Obama’ is kicking things in the Mideast into high gear.
    We’ll see.

    Reply

  15. Steve Clemons says:

    antiphone — Yes, I am the former Executive Director of the Nixon Center. Nixon would have been about as anti-neocon as POA. He would have thought that they were highly destructive of the national interest position of the U.S. Yes, there would have been fights over other things Nixon did, and I might have been part of the crowd that raised objections to some of Nixon’s actions as well….
    but if your purpose is to somehow tell people that they shouldn’t be part of this blog community, then you need to leave or you’ll be banned. That won’t be tolerated.
    best, steve clemons

    Reply

  16. Paul Windels says:

    Steve — If these reports about Ross are true, then I don’t see much difference between appointing Ross as Ambassador to Israel and appointing John Bolton as Ambassador to the UN. You were right (and such a force) on Bolton, so please don’t be wrong here. Of course, we should send an Ambassador to Israel that the Israelis can trust, but that Ambassador must be committed to the President’s policy first and foremost if we want to achieve a real and lasting peace in the Middle East.

    Reply

  17. ... says:

    do you read a newspaper and believe everything that is said within it? – neither do i… i don’t care what a persons past is, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the present.. it looks like it is with you..

    Reply

  18. antiphone says:

    anti whatever – in defense of steve as well – if you have something constructive to add to the discussion, what is it? we haven’t heard it yet… “sock puppet”
    Do you like the idea of an –American Enterprise Institute for Democrats—complete with neocons?
    Do you know you’re reading a blog by a former Executive Director of the Nixon Center?

    Reply

  19. ... says:

    anti whatever – in defense of steve as well – if you have something constructive to add to the discussion, what is it? we haven’t heard it yet…

    Reply

  20. JohnH says:

    Rich said, “But [Ross] is clearly captive to the failed assumptions about American power and the national interest.”
    True, this could be said of just about anybody in the foreign policy mob. Everybody agrees that Iran must be made to heel. But they somehow can’t manage to articulate why. That is, with a credible, non-mendacious reason.
    As William Pfaff explains, “The purpose …[for} sanctions on Iran is to prevent that country from obtaining the only feasible deterrence it could present to a future American or Israeli intervention.”
    http://www.williampfaff.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=358
    But why are America and Israel intent on intervening at all? And why is Clemons hawkish on Iran?
    Good luck getting answers. Maybe it’s simply easier to continue following the herd’s failed assumptions about American power and the national interest than to think about why the herd is heading in that direction at all.

    Reply

  21. antiphone says:

    Is it no longer the case that you “serve as Senior Fellow & Director, American Strategy Program, New America Foundation”? It certainly looks like you play a media role in much the same way as many other think tank subsidized “independent experts” do. The current sorry state of “journalism” depends heavily on such questionable “impendent” sourcing. It would not be at all surprising if, in addition to providing named attribution as a “left leaning” voice and –Democratic insider– to journalists, you provide anonymous quotes. In other words you are not an “innocent bystander” anymore than senior fellows from AEI are.
    ”I’m an informed gossip — trading in info — and bring what I can to my readers. I like cocktail parties and share what I learn — when I can — with TWN readers.”
    Perhaps you’re not familiar with JM’s term “Swinging on the Tire ”, or maybe you think you think you do a good job of self regulating. I don’t think so and because you have a space for comments I can say just that.

    Reply

  22. RCBev says:

    Just wish General Wesley Clark’s would be on that list somewhere. What an asset he would be. Anyone heard his name mentioned inside the Beltway??

    Reply

  23. Lurker says:

    …,
    Please, don’t be knocking National Enquirer here! They’ve been on a roll!!

    Reply

  24. ... says:

    antiphone – you mean ‘the national enquirer’ for political junkies? i think you have a point…

    Reply

  25. Mike says:

    This is the silliest idea since Bush. Powell is completely ineffective except as a disgraced liar. Dennis Ross is another neo-con nutcase who never saw an invasion of an Arab country he didn’t like. Sending him to Israel would be to guarantee an war with Iran. Why not just advocate for John Bolton as U.N. Ambassador again?
    If HRC becomes SofS, her husband would be the best possible person to work as roving ambassador for Middle East peace. It is a matter of indifference who becomes named to the Israeli post: it is not a friendly country, nor is Israel a country whose interests serve any American interest. The U.S. needs a peaceful stable region for oil; Israel is interested only in destabilizing the region for its political interest.

    Reply

  26. Insider says:

    Steve Clemons is trying to “export” Dennis Ross to a job where he
    can’t do much damage. This blog post is one of the smartest I have
    seen out there on Ross, and whether Powell gets the job or not,
    Clemons is making a comment about a TYPE of person who should
    be negotiating Middle East deals (i.e., not Ross)
    Matthew Yglesias got this point clearly and applauded what
    Clemons had to say. I think Clemons, as usual, is on target and
    ahead of the rest of the marketplace.

    Reply

  27. lurker says:

    anti,
    not sure what your beef is. clemons is an acquired taste, but as
    one who has been here for a very long time, he is anything but
    tired, though he is consistent. he provides the best foreign policy
    analysis in the blogosphere and he often breaks news to us, even
    news that he himself doesn’t agree with. and he moves policy
    players directions he wants them to go.
    you need to go crawl under your rock and do some reading of
    TWN’s best posts.

    Reply

  28. Steve Clemons says:

    Sorry you aren’t getting what you need here antiphone. Wish you well wherever you move to next in the blogosphere.
    Josh Marshall and I are in agreement on most things — including the importance of some of the progressive realist establishment. He has found a lot to admire in Hagel and probably agrees to disagree with me on Powell. Josh happens to be my best friend and got me into this business — for me it’s a hobby, and I make mistakes now and then — but rarely.
    You haven’t offered your own roster of better suggestions — and that’s sort of the rule here. Ad hominem attacks — or just slime attacks on someone — arent permitted. I’m an informed gossip — trading in info — and bring what I can to my readers. I like cocktail parties and share what I learn — when I can — with TWN readers. I’m upfront about it. But that sounds like it’s not for you….so please, get with the discussion and suggest something worth responding to, or move on.
    best regards,
    steve clemons

    Reply

  29. antiphone says:

    PissedOffAmerican, so what.

    Reply

  30. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, its an odds on bet that most of the people here place far more credibility on what Josh Marshall and Steve Clemons say than what you say.
    Another safe bet is that no owes you, or intends to give you, an apology.

    Reply

  31. antiphone says:

    Steve Clemons is nothing more than a village gossip columnist pushing the same old tired group of “very serious” experts. Josh Marshall should apologize for promoting this blog.

    Reply

  32. alan says:

    The US has been sustaining Israel: money, weaponry and cover at the UN Security Council. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Russia and China did the same e.g. in the balkans and Sudan respectively; the French and British, too, elsewhere. The problem now is that none of the big 5 can impose a solution. Blair flitting around the ME has been a waste of time. Time for both Isreal and Palestine to realise that a good neigbour policy is something they have to hammer out by themselves. Both sides must want it. Thus far the evidence is against this happening.

    Reply

  33. Ajaz says:

    If Ross has been singing bomb bomb bomb Iran, then he will be the wrong choice for Israel. With right wingers gaining momentum in Israel and an anti-Iran Ross as the Ambassador, we can say good bye to any chances of Middle East peace.
    US has not been an honest broker under Bush Administration and that is why there has been no progress in eight years. Chances are, Obama will put his energies into resolving Israeli Palestinian conflict in his first year of Administration and that would require fair minded people dealing with local actors. A more balanced person will be needed as Ambassador to Israel.
    Colin Powell will be an ideal choice to handle Middle East peace as a special envoy of the President.

    Reply

  34. Dan Kervick says:

    I like and respect Lugar. But I see no reason to think he would be especially good Middle East envoy and negotiating czar. Same with Hagel. Powell would be better, but I wonder if he really has all the background historical knowledge and cultural sensitives for this job.
    Frankly, I suspect we need someone for this job who is young, vigorous, tireless and aggressive, with a strong historical understanding of the region and the conflict – someone like Rahm Emanuel, but without the pro-Israel baggage. Of course, finding someone with these talents in America who has no reputation as either markedly pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian is a tall order.
    How about going outside the box to get a businessperson, a top journalist or an academic, someone who brings new blood, new energy and a fresh perspective? Wouldn’t it be great to have an actual Middle east HISTORIAN doing a job like this?

    Reply

  35. rich says:

    TonyC:
    “I’d say that your point would be better directed at the economic team, than the foreign policy team. The former will implement (mainly domestic) policy, while the latter will, of course, be dealing with adversarial (among other) countries around the world on a host of critical, and sensitive issues.”
    This is a rather obvious elaboration.
    My point is equally applicable to foreign policy and economic teams–and like you, I think it’s even more critical in the international arena. And since I was speaking about the foreign policy team in this post, and I also agree with you on the substance of the issue, I’m not sure what your point is.
    The potential for continued damage to American interests abroad, if Colin Powell or Dennis Ross have a major role, is enormous. They’ve failed us already, and we can’t afford more of the same.
    How is that different, or better directed to the domestic policy team. (They suffer similar problems, and I’ve posted on that elsewhere.)
    Still waiting for an elaboration of how Kissingerian duplicity has served, rather than betrayed, American interests.
    Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for deploying duplicity where it serves the national interest and furthers a progressive/good agenda. I just don’t think that’s what Kissinger did, or what he was all about. If it were otherwise, then why can’t Kissinger show his face in public? Or travel abroad? Why must he advise George Bush in secret, like a pale Wormtongue whose ideas cannot stand the light of day?
    For the record, I respect and even admire many of Richard Nixon’s domestic (environmental) policies. None of them, though, can compensate for or erase the betrayals inherent in COINTELPRO, Watergate & the unaccountable executive, carpet bombing civilian populations or neutral countries sans Declaration of War, etc.
    Seriously.
    There was a reason the Joint Chiefs wouldn’t let Nixon near the nuclear button, even had he ordered action. Richard Nixon will never be rehabilitated, until Dick Cheney is held accountable under the law. What Nixon attempted to undo is intrinsic to our birthright and non-negotiable. Like redemption, rehabilitation is conditioned on admission, on explicitly acknowledging what the problem was. It’s not some sort of controversy.
    Guy was a fascinating character though, and the best intellects I ride with live to collect Nixon history, stories, etc.

    Reply

  36. masdar says:

    As the main constraints on a US President’s ability to advance his
    interests in Israel/Palestine are domestic, it is important that the
    Middle East envoy have bipartisan support, or at the very least be
    someone who can help mute attempts to make partisan political
    hay out of the issue. So a republican would be good for the job.
    But like other commenters I don’t see very strong qualifications in
    Colin Powell’s CV. Rather, I would like to see Condi Rice fill the job.
    She could continue the work she got going, and put so much into,
    during the last year but with genuine backup. Solving the
    Israel/Palestine problem doesn’t require any new ideas – just
    political will. But history shows that it takes time for new Middle
    East envoys to learn this and resources get sucked up in the
    meantime. With the clock running on the feasibility of the two
    state solution, the last thing we need now is a new big name trying
    to re-invent the wheel.

    Reply

  37. rich says:

    I went to FERI’s ‘Renewing the New Deal’ conference in part to see how Dennis Ross came across in person.
    He noted that prospects for peace were not good, because Israel and Palestine had both learned the wrong lessons from the last round of the ‘peace business’ (process). What he failed to mention was the he, too, had learned the wrong lesson.
    Dennis Ross seems capable, and may have been captive to larger dynamics and administration directives while dealing with the Israel-Palestinian issue—but I was not impressed with him at the time.
    In person, he speaks with clarity and comes across as reasonable. But he is clearly captive to the failed assumptions about American power and the national interest.
    Ross is not designing tools or processes that work, he’s setting up processes to fail so as to rationalize a path to war with Iran.
    Ross asserted that larger carrots and larger sticks are needed to bring an intransigent Iran to the table. Larger means are necessary—up to a point: problem is, Iran is not intransigent. Iran has written letter after letter after letter to George Bush asking for diplomatic relations and substantive negotiations.
    WE have been intransigent. We have enforced the John Bolton school of foreign relations in dealing with Iran. Demanding Iran “shut up and follow orders” prior to any ‘negotiations’ isn’t just asinine, its undermines the basis of American exceptionalism and runs counter to any definition of benefit to the national interest.
    George Bush and Dennis Ross are basically demanding that Iran hand over its sovereignty in exchange for sitting down to talk. Bush is demanding the power to make domestic decisions for Iran—an end to Iranian sovereignty—as a ‘precondition’ for diplomatic relations. I know of no treaty and no UN affiliation that justifies so sacrificing the pragmatic American insight that respecting home rule will reap untold benefits. (If George Bush can abrogate treaties, then so can Iran.) If we want a change in behavior, ordering other nations to hand over their sovereignty is not the way to achieve that end.
    It doesn’t end there.
    Dennis Ross naively believes Iran can be isolated by lining up China, Russia and Saudi Arabia. That’s just not gonna happen. Either Ross is poorly informed, or he’s setting up the failure of such a coalition as an excuse to go to war.
    Ross asserted that we face a choice: we either live with a nuclear-armed Iran, or we go to war with Iran. What d’you s’pose his decision–and objective–is?
    Ross asserted, incorrectly, that Iran is driving toward nuclear arms capability. Where is his evidence? I mean, besides the latest forgery? A public debate, about the assumptions at work here, as well as the evidence, is long overdue.
    And even if they are seeking military parity, surrounded as they are by nuclear-capable Pakistan, Russia, and US/Israeli forces–that’s only eminently reasonable. Were that their goal, it certainly puts the lie to Dennis Ross’s assertion that shattering Iraq sets a useful example (the parrot-chicken parable). Instead, per Ross himself, it backfired and had the opposite effect.
    Dennis Ross’s objection is that a nuclear-armed Iran would enable Iran to hide behind a nuclear shield and carry out subversion and aggression throughout the region. What’s the objection? That’s America’s MO: we hide behind our nuclear capability while carrying out subversion and aggression throughout the region. At minimum, Ross is a hypocrite. How is Iran’s reasonable move to self-defense–if that’s what it is–a problem?
    It’s only a problem if the whole of America’s foreign policy is premised on the right to tell sovereign nations what they can and cannot do.
    Dennis Ross will execute John Bolton’s policies–with a few cutesy, mollifying words as fig leaves for another naked display of power.
    We have everything to gain by responding to Iran’s political concerns instead of dropping bombs. We will suffer untold losses by continuing the same failed, anti-sovereigntist policies of the last 8 to 68 years. Their wholesale departure from the obvious political lessons of 1776 have cost us again and again, and again.
    We’ve turned Bagdhad into one large strategic hamlet. We can’t remember even our most recent history, and are condemnded to repeat it:
    http://www.thenation.com/doc/20081201/turse
    Our refusal to face up to Vietnam’s winter soldiers–and winter policies–have condemned us to repeat the mistake, inflict the pain, and bear the geopolitical costs, yet again. The Salvador Option hasn’t been rejected; nor has its antecedent, the Phoenix program. This isnt’ the way to win anything.
    One last thing: when an elderly gentleman asked Dennis Ross about the America’s 1953 overthrow of Mossadegh; Ross quailed and ran. He evaded, and ran off at the mouth on another aspect until time ran out. The only mortal threat to the United States is the unaccountable insistence that we can or should tell sovereign nations what they must or cannot do. “I was just following orders” didn’t work at Nuremburg, and it won’t work for us. When Dennis Ross can’t face up to the only major question America needs to grapple with, one conclusion is instantly apparent: without the integrity this nation was founded upon informing our foreign policy–as we demanded of others–America will continue to reap high costs and rapidly diminishing returns. After all, when the CIA trained SAVAK 17 to torture the Shah’s own subjects, it didnt’ win us any friends, did it? So how can we complain Iran is hostile? How can we complain that Iran is ‘undemocratic’ when WE overthrew the democratically-elected Mossedegh in 1953? How is it possible to assert Iran is a threat–when we openly demand they knuckle under and hand over their sovereignty?
    We don’t need ‘big names’ to strong-arm anyone. We need foreign policy personnel that understand the power of American principles, how to operate effectively in the political arena, and the need to reap benefits from constructive engagement. A Kissingerian duplicy in the service of progressive/good ends, though—has it ever existed?

    Reply

  38. a says:

    I recall that Pres-elect Obama, when he became the nominee appeared before AIPAC the next day. Has he ever appeared before an organisation representing Arab-Americans, more particularly, one with a strong interest in helping Palestine?

    Reply

  39. The Surge says:

    A more appropriate appointment for Dennis Ross would be to serve Israel’s ambassador to the United States.

    Reply

  40. Tony C. says:

    rich –
    I’d say that your point would be better directed at the economic
    team, than the foreign policy team. The former will implement
    (mainly domestic) policy, while the latter will, of course, be
    dealing with adversarial (among other) countries around the
    world on a host of critical, and sensitive issues.
    While I have serious reservations about Obama having chosen
    people who were complicit in creating the current financial crisis
    as top advisors (i.e. Summers, et al), I don’t believe that the
    potential for damage is nearly as great as putting someone like
    Powell, who has been thoroughly discredited in the most
    dangerous part of the world, in charge of negotiating with the
    very countries which have every reason to distrust him. That is
    simply ridiculous.
    Obama is a very smart, and very confident man, and I have no
    problem with him taking advice from various quarters, including
    those with whom I disagree. But I can’t fathom how smart
    people like Steve could think that someone like Powell would be
    an effective – let alone the most effective – person to present to
    the Middle East on the heels of the Iraq debacle.
    Perception is a big deal, so while listening to advice behind the
    scenes from people like Powell may be reasonable, using him as
    the face of American diplomacy in the Middle East is patently
    absurd.

    Reply

  41. rich says:

    This isn’t the NFL draft or some variation on fantasy football. We need personnel who will work, not ride the hype of prognosticators whose limited name recognition skills surpass their ability to get to the root of the problem.
    Certain ‘big names’ have exhausted their ideas, skill sets, and overall capacity to grapple effectively with the challenges we face. That the situation has risen to crisis-level on many fronts only confirms the need to look to new methods and new leaders. Even people on Steve’s social circuit admit they’ve run out of ideas. Less arm-twisting; more integrity. It’d be a start.
    I disagree that folks such as Colin Powell get to move to the head of the line after being so thoroughly discredited during the last 8 years. Based on performance, they are simply not the best candidates. This extends beyond a single speech to the UN, though that is symptomatic.
    Do they have something to offer? Sure. But they’ve had their chance. And yet another bite at the apple isn’t something they’ve earned or had bestowed upon them, like some kind of baronetcy, its mantle be-spangled with unearned privileges.
    There are other big names. If they’re relatively inexperienced, that’s more to the good: not only has ‘experience’ and conventional process cost us, but now is the best time for new hands to gain critical experience–and enacting new and different methodologies immediately is imperative.
    I’m perfectly happy that Obama is including Hillary and perhaps Chuck Hagel to round out his team. That’s not the issue.
    The issue is that the mortal threat to America is the notion that America is somehow in a position to order sovereign nations around, or could every benefit from subverting that democratically-expressed sovereignty. The issue is that an election was held and Colin Powell’s team lost. What is the issue is that President Obama will, I’m sure, take the best advice from all quarters. But he had better not keep repeating Kissingers’ and George Bush’s errors and expect a different result. Here’s hoping Obama is just “adding another franchise to his team,” not adopting their failed policies.

    Reply

  42. Carroll says:

    Posted by DonS Nov 25, 11:49AM
    >>>>>>
    The truism is.. the Definition of Stupid is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    Hopefully we will be totally bankrupt soon and it will all be over.

    Reply

  43. Tim says:

    Sorry to pile on here, but do you really believe that Powell is a good selection for Middle East envoy? Please explain how his credibility remains intact among middle eastern nations, or, how you think he would be effective despite his lack of credibility.

    Reply

  44. ... says:

    adam – that would be a refreshing change… i am hoping the financial crisis shakes up the usa enough for it to get it’s head out of its ass.. all bets are off whether it happens or not.. in the meantime it is business as usual politically…

    Reply

  45. Carroll says:

    BTW…
    To understand why anything to do with Israel will fail as long as any US Israeli like Dennis Ross is involved look no further than this book by Swisher. It will be Camp David all over again.
    As far as the rest of the world is concerned the Stars and Stripes were lowered long ago and the Star of David flies over Washington. There ought to be a sign at the District limits saying ..You Are Now Entering Israeli Occupied Territory. Stop at the AIPAC Checkpoint to apply for Entry.
    http://www.amazon.com/Truth-About-Camp-David-Collapse/dp/1560256230/ref=pd_sim_b_njs_2
    I didn’t think I could be any more disgusted than I was with Bush. I can’t wait to see what Obama’s ‘what works” turns out to be. If there is a God a earthquake will swallow Washington.

    Reply

  46. Ben, UK says:

    “So, having been proved wrong about Iraq, it is logical that Barack Obama would surround himself with advisors like Jim Jones who were right about Iraq. That way, Barack Obama will hopefully not make the same mistake again. Liberals hoping for the second coming of George McGovern (and conservatives who feared it) may be getting something else entirely. It could be the third term of Bill Clinton, who was not shy at raining down fire on enemies of the United States, or even—horror of horrors—the third term of George W. Bush.”
    Where to start?
    This guy almost stumbles across the truth, which is of course that the GOP and the Donk are 2 sides of the same coin rather than polar opposites. Of course both believe in American exceptionalism and empire, and the preservation of both through blood-drenched foreign shores. Eric Holder represented the clients of Nicaraguan death sqauds, for God’s sake.. Rubin and Summers WROTE THE DEREGULATION LAWS that caused today’s toxic dump of an economy!
    However, to hold up Obama’s campaign as being centred on opposition to the war or to say that he’s now been proved wrong and warmongering death-inflicting useful idiots like Jim Jones have been proved right? Please, share that pipe AssociatedContent!
    However, from all the way over here and without the benefit of sources, chats, roundtables etc – I’ll put $50 on HRC never sitting one minute in OHB’s cabinet. Nuhh. Guhhna. Happen.

    Reply

  47. adam kurtz says:

    america needs to stop worshiping at the altar of the golden
    calf…..but its keepers will not allow america to break away from
    its idolatrous ways…..
    israel is the golden calf and american zionist jews and christians
    are the idolaters.
    intelligence agencies are too heavily vested to allow it willingly.
    but the financial crisis may wake up americans and cause them
    to turn their backs on their elitist overlords.

    Reply

  48. DonS says:

    The “center right” country/government/governance talking point continues to gain currency. No wonder “progressives” are a bit miffed. Any real progressives appointed now would appear just so much window dressing.
    What is it about insanity being the repetition of the same thing and expecting different results . . .
    . . . the amnesia express rolls on. Quite obviously, Powell is in for a big gig, if he wants it. Just how seriously will the rest of the world take such a role after his deception at the UN. Folks will be nice to his face but talk behind his back. Maybe, as a nation, we still really don’t care, as long as the corporates and AIPAC are on board.

    Reply

  49. Zathras says:

    If I can add one more comment: whether we like it or not — and I don’t — a great many decisions vital to American foreign policy are now made, not in the State Department or even the White House, but in the Pentagon. I’d like it if Steve Clemons could prevail on his sources to suggest who might be filling important sub-Cabinet posts there.

    Reply

  50. Zathras says:

    For what it’s worth, I think that irrespective of the specific views of individuals a new administration needs to be wary of appointing too many chiefs, people who think of themselves as policy makers rather than policy implementers.
    I’m a little concerned that the incoming administration has already gone a little far in the wrong direction in this respect, in terms of appointments to the White House staff. Hillary Clinton will bring a number of chiefs along with her to the State Department, if this foolish appointment ends up being made.
    There is still no need to go further than that, though, which means some “name” figures in the field of foreign policy should be left out of the administration, and some other jobs that turn out to be important should end up being put in the hands of people who are not now well known, even to Steve Clemons.
    I should say also that even though some of the leftier posters on this board seem not to have gotten the message that Barack Obama did not run as the candidate of the “God damn America” wing of the Democratic Party, they do make a valid and important point. The foreign policy of the last eight years has not served the interests of the United States well, and people who were instrumental in making that policy, or who sat mutely on the sidelines, or even who opposed it intermittently and ineffectually — Senator Hagel, I’m looking in your direction — should not be considered for major responsibilities just because some inside the Beltway consider them personally agreeable or interesting people.

    Reply

  51. JohnH says:

    Sending Lieberman to serve as ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan would be much more appropriate. Let him dodge car bombs for the next eight years. He helped create the problem. Let him own it for a while.

    Reply

  52. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Can’t we just put Lieberman in charge of all things “middle east”, hand him Daniel Pipes as an aide, and give them the nuclear football? I mean hey, it’d be extreme, but at least it would be honest.

    Reply

  53. Cato says:

    I seriously doubt there is ever going to be any progress in the U.S., much less the Middle East or the rest of the world, as long as people (especially Obama) keep turning to the same, tired, obsolete establishment hacks largely responsible for creating the mess in the first place. The DC establishment is intellectually bankrupt and more than a few removes from objective reality. I seriously doubt they can be much help in any sphere, economically or in terms of foreign policy. Oh, and Colin Powell is still a war criminal.

    Reply

  54. Tony C. says:

    Yes, Colin Powell sure would be an “interesting” choice. After all,
    who better to negotiate with the Middle Eastern powers than one
    of the chief facilitators of the illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq
    which has resulted (minimally) in hundreds of thousands of
    innocent Iraqi deaths, and the displacement of millions more?
    Yes, excellent thinking, Steve.
    Who better to negotiate in the Middle East than the man who
    knowingly spouted the following deadly lies, lies which directly
    triggered the Iraq war disaster?
    “The facts on Iraqis’ behavior – Iraq’s behavior demonstrate that
    Saddam Hussein and his regime have made no effort – no
    effort–to disarm as required by the international community.
    Indeed, the facts and Iraq’s behavior show that Saddam Hussein
    and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more
    weapons of mass destruction.”
    [snip]
    “Everything we have seen and heard indicates that, instead of
    cooperating actively with the inspectors to ensure the success of
    their mission, Saddam Hussein and his regime are busy doing all
    they possibly can to ensure that inspectors succeed in finding
    absolutely nothing.
    My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by
    sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re
    giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.
    I will cite some examples, and these are from human sources.”
    [snip]
    “The gravity of this moment is matched by the gravity of the
    threat that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction pose to the
    world. Let me now turn to those deadly weapons programs and
    describe why they are real and present dangers to the region
    and to the world.”
    [snip]
    “…what I want to bring to your attention today is the potentially
    much more sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al Qaida
    terrorist network, a nexus that combines classic terrorist
    organizations and modern methods of murder. Iraq today
    harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab Al-
    Zarqawi, an associated in collaborator of Osama bin Laden and
    his Al Qaida lieutenants.”
    [snip]
    “Iraqi officials deny accusations of ties with Al Qaida. These
    denials are simply not credible.”
    – Colin Powell, addressing the U.N. Security Council, 2/5/03

    Reply

  55. Carroll says:

    I saw that.
    Brzezinski has lost it. Is he trying to stay revelant by adopting the Obama Triangulation Fad?
    This “Triangulation Theory” of governing and solving problems by appointing a Collin Powell and a Dennis Ross is soooooooooooooo f************ing Washington. A sure fire way to keep the “Peace business’ in bizness forever.
    Why in God’s name would anyone give Dennis Ross, another chance to subvert a peace settlement?
    Here’s an idea, let’s not appoint any gd US Israelis to anything having to do with Israel or the ME. As long as the US always goes in “on the Israeli side’ there will be no settlement.
    Here’s an even better idea since it is impossible for the US to be an honest broker…let the reps of the Saudi Peace Plan and the Isr’merica Crap Non-Plan go to the UN and lay out their seperate cases and be bound by an international law ruling from the UN. THAT is where the Isr-Pal issue started, THAT is where it belongs.
    Gawd!…how stupid does Orwellington DC have to get until it completely dies?

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  56. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Wonderful idea. That would place Powell in the perfect position to lie to the UN with a large degree of expertise.

    Reply

  57. alan says:

    Steve: I don’t buy the Dennis Ross as ambassador case. He is distrusted by the Palestinians and no amount of double talk is going to get around that. We don’t need a pro-Israel type, and anyone connected to James Woolsey ought to be suspect. It is not Pres-elect Obama’s role to bring in tired old war horses to provide a patina of co-operation across the divide. Nor will Powell be able to do much. He is not a risk taker. For once we need someone new, with no overt pro- Israel or pro-Palestine bias and who would no undercut or be undercut by the SOS.
    I seem to recall that Olmert, in an uncharacteristic burst of honesty stated that Israel was as much to blame for the current impasse as the divided Palestinians. Of course he said that AFTER he announced his departure from office. That’s the kind of courage that is on display today.

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