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Dennis Ross, Barack Obama’s proposed new Middle East guru/envoy, has gotten generally fawning coverage from the press. In Newsweek,, Michael Hersh wrote: “One man who will probably be running ahead of the pack is Dennis Ross, the longtime Mideast peace envoy who suffered through the rise and fall of the Oslo process in the ’90s—working for both the first President Bush and Bill Clinton—before writing a thick, largely ignored book on the experience. He spent most of the past decade at the policy wonk’s version of purgatory, a think tank. Now Ross is back in a new, more powerful role that offers substantial evidence that Obama intends to treat the problems of Mideast peace as all of a piece, from Gaza to Tehran to Syria.”
Not everyone is so enamored of Ross, however. Here’s what a veteran Middle East expert, with long military experience and who is well known in senior government circles, had to say when I asked for his assessment:
The basic problem is that Ross failed twice as lead envoy for Arab-Israeli peacemaking. His legacy includes the disastrous Hebron protocol, the failed, poorly prepared Camp David meeting, and the unchecked expansion of illegal Israeli settlements. He was a problematic honest broker because he test drove U.S. initiatives with the Israelis, and would be likely to do so in the future. He is disdained by moderate Palestinians, precisely the people that the U.S. would like as interlocutors. By his own admission, see his comments in the NYT Mag in article that marked his exit from the job, he conducted himself to protect Israel’s interests. He conveniently assumes that Israel’s interests coincide with those of the USA, which is sometimes true, but sometimes not true at all. No doubt, the reentry of Ross would be heartily celebrated in Israeli policy circles that oppose a two-state solution, but I don’t find that encouraging. In his recent comments he has expressed skepticism that an Israeli-Palestinian agreement is now possible, so it would be odd if Obama allowed him to get within a mile of his expressed intent to move early towards a settlement.
As for Ross being named as some sort of super regional envoy whose portfolio includes Iran, I find that less than optimal as well. He is directly linked to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), which has been spewing forth literally hundreds of op-eds, policy papers, interviews, policy briefs, lectures, etc. advocating military intervention against Iran. His connection to WINEP would seem to make him a curious choice for an administration intent on exploring a dialogue with Iran.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Commentary — November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm
The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.
i. stand with israel
I listen to a lot of conservative talk radio. Confident masculine voices telling me the enemy is everywhere and victory is near — I often find it affirming: there’s a reason I don’t think that way. Last spring, many right-wing commentators made much of a Bloomberg poll that asked Americans, “Are you more sympathetic to Netanyahu or Obama?” Republicans picked the Israeli prime minister over their own president, 67 to 16 percent. There was a lot of affected shock that things had come to this. Rush Limbaugh said of Netanyahu that he wished “we had this kind of forceful moral, ethical clarity leading our own country”; Mark Levin described him as “the leader of the free world.” For a few days there I yelled quite a bit in my car.
The one conservative radio show I do find myself enjoying is hosted by Dennis Prager. At the Thanksgiving dinner of American radio personalities (Limbaugh is your jittery brother-in-law, Michael Savage is your racist uncle, Hugh Hewitt is Hugh Hewitt) Dennis Prager is the turkey-carving patriarch trying to keep the conversation moderately high-minded. While Prager obviously doesn’t like liberals — “The gaps between the left and right on almost every issue that matters are in fact unbridgeable,” he has said — he often invites them onto his show for debate, which is rare among right-wing hosts. Yet his gently exasperated take on the Obama–Netanyahu matchup was among the least charitable: “Those who do not confront evil resent those who do.”
Average number of Americans who are injured by chain saws each year:
A farmer in Kenya bit a python who tried to eat him.
A former prison in Philadelphia that has served as a horror-movie set was being prepared as a detention center for protesters arrested at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fired his campaign manager.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”