Dennis Ross Gets His Appointment: Fair Trade for Chas Freeman Who Will Chair Intel Council


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Tonight, State Department Acting Spokesman Robert Wood issued a statement that Dennis Ross was now officially “Special Advisor for The Gulf and Southwest Asia.”
This is amazing news given early world and rumor from quite solid sources that Ambassador Ross, a very distinguished diplomat who promotes a hawkish posture on Iran, was going to be not only the President’s special envoy to Iran but also basically a super envoy ranking above others for the entire Middle East region.
Without going into deep detail, this came “undone“.
Zbigniew Brzezinski and I have both been suggesting that Ross, who served as Bill Clinton’s deal maker in a number of rounds of Middle East peace efforts, not be made envoy on Iran as it would provide too much fodder for the populist campaign of President Ahmadinejad who is up for election in June and be seen by Iran as a sign that Obama was not serious about a strategic leap out of the current US-Iran relations mess into a different arrangement.
Brzezinski and I both suggested that Ross would make an excellent envoy to Israel. But being “special advisor” to Hillary on Iran and the region is nearly as good and should not be read by Iran as a provocative mood.
This is a measured and balanced way to keep Dennis Ross in the equation without doing much harm. In fact, Dennis is very smart and can help. He knows every nook and cranny of the Middle East Peace Business. I just wish he worked harder to put that business out of business instead of helping it to continues as a thriving franchise.
AIPAC will not be overjoyed with the seeming demotion of Dennis Ross’ position — but they also like the fact that he did get an appointment inside the tent.
I consider this pretty much a fair trade for the rumored and likely appointment of former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas Freeman as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council.
Freeman, who has an incredibly diverse record of national service ranging from Latin America to Russia to China to the Middle East approaches most national security issues as an unsentimental realist — without ideology and bias — which threatens some who want to make sure that the “basic tilt” of an Israel-leaning preference are part of the decision making DNA of American national security officials.
Freeman, like former Senator Chuck Hagel, doesn’t believe in false choices — which will be unnerving for some in the AIPAC crowd. M.J. Rosenberg has more on AIPAC’s heartburn.
All in all, the appointment of both Ross and Freeman — intellectual rivals for sure — assures that the decision-making process on Iran will be broad and include a full scope of views.
This is good for the country and President Obama.
Below follows the statement by Robert Wood about Dennis Ross’ appointment:

Appointment of Dennis Ross as Special Advisor for The Gulf and Southwest Asia

The Secretary is pleased to announce the appointment of Dennis B. Ross to the position of Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for The Gulf and Southwest Asia. This is a region in which America is fighting two wars and facing challenges of ongoing conflict, terror, proliferation, access to energy, economic development and strengthening democracy and the rule of law. In this area, we must strive to build support for U.S. goals and policies. To be successful, we will need to be able to integrate our policy development and implementation across a broad range of offices and senior officials in the State Department, and, in his role as Special Advisor to the Secretary, Ambassador Ross will be asked to play that role.
Specifically, as Special Advisor, he will provide to the Secretary and senior State Department officials strategic advice and perspective on the region; offer assessments and also act to ensure effective policy integration throughout the region; coordinate with senior officials in the development and formulation of new policy approaches; and participate, at the request of the Secretary, in inter-agency activities related to the region.
Ambassador Ross brings a wealth of experience not just to issues within the region but also to larger political-military challenges that flow from the area and have an impact outside of the Gulf and Southwest Asia, and the Secretary looks forward to drawing on that experience and diplomatic perspective.

— Steve Clemons


20 comments on “Dennis Ross Gets His Appointment: Fair Trade for Chas Freeman Who Will Chair Intel Council

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  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gee, “Gary” seems to have retreated. What a suprise.
    Perhaps he’s joined varanasi on an important diplomatic mission to exotic regions of the globe. I hope he speaks Gump, because Andy is a tough negotiator.


  4. Mitchell says:

    Gary, either find a news article demonstrating that Hamas broke the ceasefire before Israel did on November 4th, or stop staying Hamas started it.
    You either refute an argument, or accept it. Ignoring evidence that goes against one’s preference didn’t work out so well for America’s last President.


  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Still ignoring the FACT that Israel broke the ceasefire on November fourth of last year.
    Note the lack of specificity in his claims? Its all generalized horseshit, 99.9% bluster. These people, like this Gary jackass, are transparently ignorant, and bigoted to a fault.


  6. Gary says:

    Notice how he calls me a jackass, when he’s the king??!!! I’ll explain it so even Israeli haters like yourself can understand it.
    Israel is DEFENDING itself. It’s Hamas who has broken cease fire after cease fire, Hamas who keeps firing rockets into Israel, and Hamas who still holds an Israeli soldier hostage like the cowards that they are.
    My friend, you are blessed with the amazing capacity to shoot yourself in the mouth. I’d like to continue arguing with you, but since you have no earthly idea of knowing what you’re talking about, it would be a waste of time. If you think Hamas is so righteous in it’s cause, pick up a gun, and join them. But then again, you’re probably all talk and no action.


  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Note the jackass doesn’t even bother to recognize or rebut the assertion that Israel broke the cease fire agreement on Nov. 4th.
    He can’t. Because he knows its true. Most of these assholes turn a blind eye to the truth in their arguments, expecting you to do the same. Only when engaging someone equally as blind do they manage to offer convincing arguments.
    Its also how AIPAC manages to keep their propaganda machine rolling, by preying on people’s ignorance of the facts, nurturing it, and implanting the desired fictions that are then passed from one ignorant buffoon to another, until fiction passes as fact among a whole cadre of people.


  8. Gary says:

    And you’re a blustering anti-Israeli zealot. A bald-faced lie?? I don’t think so. Israel has only responded to repeated attacks by Hamas. Even an idiot like you ought to know that.
    If Hamas would stop the rocket attacks into Israel, then the peace process would pick up steam. But since Hamas has refused to stop the attacks, why should Israel even talk to these terrorists??
    Have another deal for you. Instead of us paying 900 mil. for the Palestinian people, you pay it. After all, those “animals” need better cages to live it.


  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Hell, let Hamas pay for the cleanup since they started this little war in the first place”
    On November 4th of last year, Israel broke the cesefire agreement. Why should I respond to some jackass that starts his comment out with a bald faced lie?
    And yes, you blustering fool, Israel DOES have a right to “defend itself”. But its time they did so without my tax dollar paying for it. And I got news for you, if they’d treat the Palestinians as something other than animals, it would go one hell of a sight further towards stopping the rockets than dumping white phosphorous on children does.


  10. Gary says:

    900 mil for the reconstruction of Gaza??!! Hell, let Hamas pay for the cleanup since they started this little war in the first place. Apparently, Mr. Pissed off American doesn’t believe Israel has the right to defend itself.
    Got a deal for you. Next time Hamas fires rockets into Israel, you pay the damages. Deal??!!!


  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    So Hillary pledges 900 mil for the reconstruction of Gaza.
    Is there no end to the amount of money this bloodsucking leech, Israel, costs us?
    Perhaps we could deduct it from the billions we will undoubtedly give them to raze the place again after we dump this 900 mil into repairing the last razing, eh? Raze it, rebuild it, raze it, rebuild it. All on our dime.
    Fantastic, isn’t it?
    Can’t they just spend a hundred bucks or so and fix the effin’ pothole in my cul d’sac?


  12. samuelburke says:

    steve i hear the muslims hate america cause we are free and because women dont have to wear headscarfs.
    is it true?
    of course it has nothing to do with israels mideast colonization of palestine.
    or with the masacres and depopulations of the palestinian people.
    or the silence imposed on politicians and the press by the nation within the nation.
    who knocked down world trade center tower number seven?
    was it a secret muslim weapon, maybe an invisible plane designed in iran.
    gotta love washington.
    go on fighting windmills don quixotic.
    cuba is a windmill…israel is an albatross.
    shine on you crazy diamond.
    steve in case you havent noticed somewhere from within deep in the intelligence community a new all american hero movement is rising out of the ashes and the zionist entity has been weighted and has been found wanting, like in the propehesy in the old testament book of daniel.
    join them, the word is out and they are going to get got.


  13. Kathleen G says:

    Interesting article about Ross and FARA
    “Israel Lobby Archive releases new DOJ Foreign Agent files
    WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Former Clinton Administration
    Middle East diplomat Dennis Ross is under consideration as US State Department
    envoy to Iran. Ross is currently the chairman of the Jewish People Policy
    Planning Institute (JPPPI) in Jerusalem, established by the Jewish Agency in
    2002. Ross could face legal challenges under the 1938 Foreign Agents
    Registration Act, or FARA, if he enters US government service.
    FARA protects the American people and Congress from stealth propaganda and
    foreign lobbying through strict public disclosure filings. The Jewish Agency
    has repeatedly surfaced during investigations in the US. In the 1960s the
    Senate Foreign Relations Committee uncovered a network of stealth Jewish
    Agency “conduits” financing grassroots Israel lobby startup groups through the
    American Zionist Council (AZC). During 1963 hearings the Senate revealed the
    equivalent of $35 million went toward US lobbying, including $38,000 to
    American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) founder Isaiah Kenen between


  14. kathleen G says:

    “Israel’s lawyer” Dennis Ross’s support for the illegal expansion of illegal settlements did not seem like a neutral kind of guy for the I/P conflict.
    Hearing that he was chosen as Obama’s middle east envoy to Iran had to be salt in the wound’s for Iran.
    Good to hear he has been demoted.
    Intense conversation going on over at FDL on Judge Ellis’s latest decision on the Aipac/Rosen/Weissman espionage trial.
    This investigation and 5 time delayed trial has been blacked out in the MSM.


  15. DonS says:

    Helena Cobban, JWN, fleshes out why Dennis Ross is a truly bad actor while, in Steve’s words he is “a very distinguished diplomat” and this appointment would be a fair trade for Chas Freeman as Chairman of NIC.
    Helena notes “[Ross] served as an ambassadorial-level special coordinator for Arab-Israeli negotiations for both presidents George H.W. Bush and Clinton. But since then, he has been appointed Chairman of the Board of an outfit called the Jewish People Policy Planning Instite, which has been– as its masthead there proudly proclaims– “Established by the Jewish Agency for Israel, Ltd.”
    “. . . For example, the Jewish Agency has been a major partner for successive Israeli governments in the building of Israel’s completely illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. (As referred to quite casually in, for example, this 2005 report in the Financial Times.)
    “. . . But I’m puzzled why I’ve seen no mention of this obviously problematic affiliation of his in any of the mainstream reporting that I’ve read? “
    Actually, I don’t think Helena’s puzzled at all. But her elucidation of Ross’ affiliation can certainly be dubbed “quid pro quo” for the “fair trade” calculus that Steve alludes to when it comes to the RW crying bloody murder because Freeman has some some Saudi connections, among other in his extraordinalrily impressive vita.
    The RW of course cannot tolerate even the thought of one appointment that does not meet their Israeli centric focus


  16. jlo says:

    Does this mean Jim Cunningham was stay on as U.S. Ambassador to Israel? Or is the Obama Administration just filling in the team from the top down? Will Ross be with the Secretary in Israel on March 3rd?


  17. ... says:

    steve quote “I consider this pretty much a fair trade”… only if freeman gets the position and that hasn’t happened yet… interesting how everything has to go thru whether it’s okay with israel/aipac or not… who runs the us gov’t anyway???


  18. DonS says:

    So we have lots of actors and commentators throwing out subliminal and not-so-subliminal messages about Freeman, seeding the conversation one way or the other. Specifically, in the post Steve links, M.J.Rosenberg even makes the statement “And, in the end, Freeman probably won’t get the job.” Some would call that realism, some would call it defeatism. Maybe he’s just setting himself up to look prescient in the eventuality. I hope not.
    Obviously Obama knew the “disqualifying” baggage, as the neo-con POV would have it, when he made the nomination. So it’s my hope, for the possibility of really tackling the IsrPal issue, and for advanicing American interests, that Obama plans to go to the mat on this one and begin to marginalize AIPAC influence, at least in the Executive branch.
    Interesting, is it not, that the Bushies strong connections with the Saudis garnered hardly and occasional tsk tsk over the past eight years, but no horror (even the rapid and suspicious evacuation of Saudi nationals after 911 was a non-issue). Yet this is the hook on which AIPAC/necons hope to sink Freeman’s nomination.
    Obama needs to nail this one.


  19. Ben Rosengart says:

    I don’t, by the way, think that Obama is going to be able to pursue
    a reasonable policy in the Middle East without at last confronting
    AIPAC in some gross or subtle manner.


  20. Ben Rosengart says:

    Interesting news.
    I want you to know, though, that I’m declaring 2009 the “Year of
    Using ‘DNA’ Only In Reference to Deoxyribonucleic Acid”.


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