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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Obama's (only?) decent appointment

With all of the bad appointments President Obama has been making in Washington these days - Chas Freeman and George Mitchell being recent appointments directly affecting this region, and many others that are problematic both for us and on the domestic level - it would only be fair to acknowledge an appointment of someone who actually understands the subject for which he is responsible. That appointment is Dennis Ross, who is Obama's envoy to Iran. Now, before you all get upset with me, I'm not saying that I agree with Ross' position about the 'peace process' or that Ross hasn't harmed Israel in the past. Ross is a good appointment for one reason: He is apparently the only one in this administration who understands that if the US doesn't take care of Iran, Israel will. Israel will not live with a nuclear Iran. And Ross is signed on that statement.
The report, "Preventing a Cascade of Instability," was put out by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). It also argues that international sanctions against Iran need to be intensified urgently for the engagement the Obama administration is planning with Teheran to be effective.

An early draft of the report was endorsed by Dennis Ross before he withdrew upon joining the Obama administration, in which he is serving as a special representative dealing with various countries in the region, including Iran. Senator Evan Bayh of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Congressman Gary Ackerman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East, were among the signatories.

The bipartisan group also recommended increasing security guarantees and the supply of missile defenses and other protective measures to allies in the Middle East, both to reassure them of America's commitment to them and to dampen the perceived effectiveness, and hence appeal, of nuclear weapons for Iran.

But the report, several of whose authors met with high-level Israeli officials to assess their perspective, notes that Israel is not interested in becoming part of an American nuclear umbrella, even as Gulf countries want more assurances on that front.

"A declared US guarantee would clarify a situation of ambiguity that may already work to Israel's advantage," the report notes. Also, "many Israelis fear that a declared US guarantee could come at the price of circumscribing Israel's freedom of action in confronting existential dangers."

"It's quite serious in acting on its own about a nuclear-armed Iran," former US ambassador to the United Nations Nancy Soderberg, one of the task force members who traveled to the region to research the report, said at a WINEP event held Wednesday on the report's release.

She noted that the timetable for an Israeli attack might be "significantly" moved up if Jerusalem believed Russia was going to make good on its pledge to supply Iran with the S-300 surface-to-air missile system, which would greatly complicate any Israeli attack.

If the delivery does occur, the report recommends more arms sales to Israel, such as more modern aircraft, so it can maintain its military edge.
For those who are wondering, here is the list of people who endorsed this report.
Preventing a Cascade of Instability is endorsed by a distinguished group of policy practitioners: member of Congress Gary Ackerman (D-NY); U.S. senator Evan Bayh (D-IN); former CSIS International Security Program senior advisor Robert Einhorn; Washington Institute Military and Security Studies Program director Michael Eisenstadt; former U.S. Strategic Command commander in chief Gen. (Ret.) Eugene Habiger; Washington Institute Gulf and Energy Policy Program director Simon Henderson; Duke University professor of public policy Bruce Jentleson; National Institute for Public Policy senior scholar Robert Joseph; American Enterprise Institute vice president for foreign and defense policy studies Danielle Pletka; former assistant secretary of state Stephen Rademaker; former special Middle East envoy and Washington Institute Ziegler distinguished fellow Dennis Ross; Defense Science Board chairman William Schneider, Jr.; former National Security Council senior director for Middle East affairs Michael Singh; U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nancy Soderberg; and James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies deputy director Leonard Spector.
Other than Ross, none of them is a name I recognize as one of Obama's foreign policy advisers. But at least Ross is there. And he apparently gets it.


At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Debbie Schlussel reminder from a few weeks ago:

Bad News: Hillary Appoints Clinton "Horseman of the Apocalypse" As Foreign Policy Advisor

At 5:21 PM, Blogger J. Lichty said...

Ross is being marginlized in the administration. He is under Clinton who also has no real voice with Obama.

Obama has gone with his team of realists and James Jones is the voice Obama consults.

The ole jew haters have won out so far over the ole peace processors.


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