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Dennis Ross

Dennis Ross

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Dennis B. Ross is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 diplomat and author. He has served as the Director of Policy Planning
Director of Policy Planning
The Director of Policy Planning is the United States Department of State official in charge of the Department's internal think tank, the Policy Planning Staff. The position of Director of Policy Planning has traditionally been held by many members of the U.S. foreign policy establishment...

 in the State Department under President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

, the special Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 coordinator under President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

, and was a special adviser for the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 and Southwest Asia (which includes Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

) to Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 Hillary Clinton.

Biography


Ross was born in San Francisco and grew up in Marin County
Marin County, California
Marin County is a county located in the North San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. As of 2010, the population was 252,409. The county seat is San Rafael and the largest employer is the county government. Marin County is well...

. His Jewish mother and Catholic stepfather raised him in a non-religious atmosphere. Ross graduated from University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Los Angeles
The University of California, Los Angeles is a public research university located in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, USA. It was founded in 1919 as the "Southern Branch" of the University of California and is the second oldest of the ten campuses...

 in 1970 and did graduate work there, writing his doctoral dissertation on Soviet decision-making. He later became religiously Jewish
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 after the Six Day War. In 2002 he co-founded the Kol Shalom synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

 in Rockville, Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

.

During President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

's administration, Ross worked under Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
Paul Wolfowitz
Paul Dundes Wolfowitz is a former United States Ambassador to Indonesia, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, President of the World Bank, and former dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University...

 in the Pentagon
The Pentagon
The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia. As a symbol of the U.S. military, "the Pentagon" is often used metonymically to refer to the Department of Defense rather than the building itself.Designed by the American architect...

. There, he co-authored a study recommending greater U.S. intervention in "the Persian Gulf Region because of our need for Persian Gulf oil and because events in the Persian Gulf affect the Arab-Israeli conflict." During the Reagan administration
Reagan Administration
The United States presidency of Ronald Reagan, also known as the Reagan administration, was a Republican administration headed by Ronald Reagan from January 20, 1981, to January 20, 1989....

, Ross served as director of Near East and South Asian affairs in the National Security Council
United States National Security Council
The White House National Security Council in the United States is the principal forum used by the President of the United States for considering national security and foreign policy matters with his senior national security advisors and Cabinet officials and is part of the Executive Office of the...

 and Deputy Director of the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment
Office of Net Assessment
The United States Department of Defense's Office of Net Assessment was created in 1973. The Director of Net Assessment is the principal staff assistant and advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense on net assessment matters...

 (1982–84).

Ross returned briefly to academia in the 1980s, serving as executive director of the Berkeley-Stanford
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

 program on Soviet International Behavior from 1984-1986. In the mid-1980s Ross co-founded with Martin Indyk
Martin Indyk
Martin Sean Indyk is Vice President and Director for Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. Indyk served as United States ambassador to Israel and Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs during the Clinton Administration. He is known as the framer of the U.S...

 the American Israel Public Affairs Committee
American Israel Public Affairs Committee
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is a lobbying group that advocates pro-Israel policies to the Congress and Executive Branch of the United States...

 (AIPAC)-sponsored Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Washington Institute for Near East Policy
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy is a think tank based in Washington, D.C. focused on United States foreign policy in the Middle East. It was established by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 1985...

 ("WINEP"). His first WINEP paper called for appointment of a "non-Arabist Special Middle East envoy" who would "not feel guilty about our relationship with Israel."

In the administration of President George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

, Ross was director of the United States State Department's Policy Planning Staff, working on U.S. policy toward the former Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, the reunification of Germany and its integration into NATO, arms control
Arms control
Arms control is an umbrella term for restrictions upon the development, production, stockpiling, proliferation, and usage of weapons, especially weapons of mass destruction...

, and the 1991 Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

. He also worked with Secretary of State James Baker
James Baker
James Addison Baker, III is an American attorney, politician and political advisor.Baker served as the Chief of Staff in President Ronald Reagan's first administration and in the final year of the administration of President George H. W. Bush...

 on convincing Arab and Israeli leaders to attend the 1991 Middle East peace conference
Madrid Conference of 1991
The Madrid Conference was hosted by the government of Spain and co-sponsored by the USA and the USSR. It convened on October 30, 1991 and lasted for three days. It was an early attempt by the international community to start a peace process through negotiations involving Israel and the Palestinians...

 in Madrid, Spain.

Middle East Envoy



In the summer of 1993 President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 named Ross Middle East envoy. He helped the Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

is and Palestinians reach the 1995 Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
The Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, also known as the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, the Interim Agreement, Oslo 2, Oslo II, and Taba, was a key and complex agreement governing several aspects of the Palestinian territories of Gaza Strip and the West Bank.-History:It...

 and brokered the Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron
Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron
Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron, also known as The Hebron Protocol or Hebron Agreement, began January 7 and was concluded from January 15 to January 17, 1997 between Israel, represented by Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestine Liberation Organization ,...

 in 1997. He facilitated the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace
Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace
The Israel–Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed in 1994. The treaty normalized relations between the two countries and resolved territorial disputes. The conflict had cost roughly US$18.3 billion...

 and also worked on talks between Israel and Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

.

Ross was criticized by people on both sides of the conflict. Occasional references to his Jewish ancestry were brought up within the Arab world (although Ross maintains this was not a problem with other heads of state during negotiations), and some conservative Israelis branded him "self-hating" — each questioning his ability to be unbiased. Describing Ross, Roger Cohen wrote that “Balance is something this meticulous diplomat [Ross] prizes. But a recurrent issue with Ross, who embraced the Jewish faith after being raised in a nonreligious home by a Jewish mother and Catholic stepfather, has been whether he is too close to the American Jewish community and Israel to be an honest broker with Iran or Arabs. Aaron David Miller
Aaron David Miller
Aaron David Miller is an American Middle East analyst, author, and negotiator. He is on the U.S. Advisory Council of Israel Policy Forum, is Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, and has been an advisor to six Secretaries of State. Miller worked within the United States Department...

, after years of working with Ross, concluded in a book that he “had an inherent tendency to see the world of Arab-Israeli politics first from Israel’s vantage point rather than that of the Palestinians.” Another former senior State Department official, who requested anonymity … told me, “Ross’s bad habit is preconsultation with the Israelis.”

In their 2006 paper The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy is the title of a book by John Mearsheimer, Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, Professor of International Relations at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, published in late August 2007...

, John Mearsheimer
John Mearsheimer
John J. Mearsheimer is an American professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. He is an international relations theorist. Known for his book on offensive realism, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, more recently Mearsheimer has attracted attention for co-authoring and publishing...

, political science professor at the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

, and Stephen Walt
Stephen Walt
Stephen Martin Walt is a professor of international affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Among his most prominent works are and . He coauthored The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy with John Mearsheimer.-Education and career:In 1983, he received a Ph.D. in...

, academic dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

, named Ross as a member of the "Israeli lobby" in the United States. Ross in turn criticized the academics behind the paper. In 2008, Time reported that a former colleague of Ross, former ambassador Daniel Kurtzer published a think-tank monograph containing anonymous complaints from Arab and American negotiators saying Ross was seen as biased towards Israel and not "an honest broker".

Ross's memoir of his experiences, The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace
The Missing Peace
The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace is a 2004 non-fiction book by Dennis Ross on the history of and his participation in the Israeli–Palestinian peace process and the Arab-Israeli peace process. Ross, an American diplomat, was the Director of Policy Planning in...

tells his side of the story and outlines the key lessons to be drawn. His 2007 book, Statecraft: And How to Restore America's Standing in the World, criticizes the administration of President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 for its failure to use the tools of statecraft to advance U.S. national interests. He advocates instead for a neoliberal foreign policy
Neoliberalism in international relations
In the study of international relations, neoliberalism refers to a school of thought which believes that nation-states are, or at least should be, concerned first and foremost with absolute gains rather than relative gains to other nation-states...

 which relies on a much broader and more effective use of statecraft. While having worked under both Republican and Democratic administrations, Ross himself is a Democrat.

Post-Clinton-era activities


After leaving his position as envoy, Ross returned to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy as counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow. He became chair of the Jerusalem-based think tank, the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, funded and founded by the Jewish Agency in 2002.

During these years he taught classes at Marquette University, Brandeis University, Georgetown University and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University." He also wrote frequently for publications like The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

, The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

, The Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post is an Israeli daily English-language broadsheet newspaper, founded on December 1, 1932 by Gershon Agron as The Palestine Post. The daily readership numbers do not approach those of the major Hebrew newspapers....

, The New Republic
The New Republic
The magazine has also published two articles concerning income inequality, largely criticizing conservative economists for their attempts to deny the existence or negative effect increasing income inequality is having on the United States...

, USA Today
USA Today
USA Today is a national American daily newspaper published by the Gannett Company. It was founded by Al Neuharth. The newspaper vies with The Wall Street Journal for the position of having the widest circulation of any newspaper in the United States, something it previously held since 2003...

and The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal is an American English-language international daily newspaper. It is published in New York City by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corporation, along with the Asian and European editions of the Journal....

and worked as a foreign affairs analyst for the Fox News channel.

Ross was a noted supporter of the Iraq war
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

 and he signed two Project for a New American Century (PNAC) letters in support of the war in March 2003. However, he opposed some of the Bush Administration's policies for post-war reconstruction. He also opposed Bush's policy of avoiding direct talks with Iran.

According to Wall Street Journal, Ross, along with James Steinberg
James Steinberg
James Braidy "Jim" Steinberg is an American academic and political advisor, and former Deputy Secretary of State. He is currently Dean and Professor of Social Science, International Affairs, and Law at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.-Early career:He...

 and Daniel Kurtzer, were among the principal authors of presidential candidate Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

’s address on the Middle East to AIPAC in June 2008. It was viewed as the Democratic nominee’s most expansive on international affairs.

Obama Administration positions


Ross was appointed Special Advisor for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia to Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 Hillary Clinton on February 23, 2009. On June 25, 2009 the White House announced that Ross was leaving the State Department to join the National Security Council staff as a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the Central Region, with overall responsibility for the region. The Central Region includes the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Pakistan and South Asia.

Haaretz
Haaretz
Haaretz is Israel's oldest daily newspaper. It was founded in 1918 and is now published in both Hebrew and English in Berliner format. The English edition is published and sold together with the International Herald Tribune. Both Hebrew and English editions can be read on the Internet...

reported that Ross's work as a Middle East aide in the Obama administration was burdened by tension with special envoy George Mitchell
George J. Mitchell
George John Mitchell, Jr., is the former U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace under the Obama administration. A Democrat, Mitchell was a United States Senator who served as the Senate Majority Leader from 1989 to 1995...

, to the point that Ross and Mitchell sometimes refused to speak to one another. This report indicated that the tension was caused, at least in part, by Ross' occasional efforts to conduct negotiations with Israeli government officials without notifying Mitchell. For example, in both September and November 2010, Ross was said to have tried to persuade Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to freeze settlement construction during negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, in exchange for unspecified private assurances and a major military arms transfer from the United States.

Palestinian officials reportedly viewed Ross as beholden to the Israeli government, and not as an honest broker or even-handed facilitator of negotiations. For a significant period, Ross refraining from meeting Palestinian Authority officials, while continuing to hold talks with Israeli officials during his visits to the region.

On November 10, 2011, Ross stepped down from his post in the Obama administration.

Controversies


For background, see Positions on Jerusalem
Positions on Jerusalem
There are differing legal and diplomatic positions on Jerusalem held within the international community. Governments and scholars alike are divided over the legal status of Jerusalem under international law. Most countries of the world do not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Many do not...



Ross states in his book The Missing Peace
The Missing Peace
The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace is a 2004 non-fiction book by Dennis Ross on the history of and his participation in the Israeli–Palestinian peace process and the Arab-Israeli peace process. Ross, an American diplomat, was the Director of Policy Planning in...

that he and other American negotiators pushed Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak is an Israeli politician who served as Prime Minister from 1999 until 2001. He was leader of the Labor Party until January 2011 and holds the posts of Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister in Binyamin Netanyahu's government....

 to accept Palestinian sovereignty over Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem or Eastern Jerusalem refer to the parts of Jerusalem captured and annexed by Jordan in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and then captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War...

 during the Middle East Peace Summit at Camp David. Ross wrote part of Barack Obama's speech to AIPAC during the 2008 Presidential campaign
Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2008
Barack Obama, then junior United States Senator from Illinois, announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States in Springfield, Illinois, on February 10, 2007. On August 27, 2008, he was declared nominee of the Democratic Party for the 2008 presidential election...

, and the speech stated that "Jerusalem is Israel's capital" and that it should not be divided again. The Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post is an Israeli daily English-language broadsheet newspaper, founded on December 1, 1932 by Gershon Agron as The Palestine Post. The daily readership numbers do not approach those of the major Hebrew newspapers....

reported in November 2008 that, according to Ross, these were "facts." However, Ross stated that the "third point," which is the position of the United States since the Camp David Accords, is that the final status of the city will be resolved by negotiations.

See also

  • Obama Administration
  • Israel – United States relations
  • Nuclear program of Iran
    Nuclear program of Iran
    The nuclear program of Iran was launched in the 1950s with the help of the United States as part of the Atoms for Peace program. The support, encouragement and participation of the United States and Western European governments in Iran's nuclear program continued until the 1979 Iranian Revolution...


External links

  • Living the Peace Process, Interviewed by the Middle East Quarterly
    Middle East Quarterly
    Middle East Quarterly is a peer reviewed quarterly journal, a publication of the American conservative think tank Middle East Forum founded by Daniel Pipes in 1994. It is devoted to subjects relating to the Middle East and Islam and analyzes the region "explicitly from the viewpoint of American...

    June 1996
  • The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace, interviewed by Thomas Friedman
    Thomas Friedman
    Thomas Lauren Friedman is an American journalist, columnist and author. He writes a twice-weekly column for The New York Times. He has written extensively on foreign affairs including global trade, the Middle East, and environmental issues and has won the Pulitzer Prize three times.-Personal...

    , Council on Foreign Relations
    Council on Foreign Relations
    The Council on Foreign Relations is an American nonprofit nonpartisan membership organization, publisher, and think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs...

     September 13, 2004 (video)
  • Council on Foreign Relations Panel Discussion: America and the World: Challenges Facing the Next Administration--Remarks by Ambassador Dennis Ross, October 13, 2004
  • Questions for Dennis Ross: Handling Hamas, interviewed by Deborah Solomon
    Deborah Solomon
    Deborah Solomon is an American art critic, journalist and biographer. She is best-known for her weekly column, "Questions For," which ran in The New York Times Magazine from 2003 to 2011.-Early life and education:...

    , The New York Times
    The New York Times
    The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

    February 5, 2006
  • Problem Countries: Syria, Iran and Russia stir up trouble, interviewed by Paul Gigot
    Paul Gigot
    Paul A. Gigot is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative political commentator and the editor of the editorial pages for The Wall Street Journal...

    , The Wall Street Journal
    The Wall Street Journal
    The Wall Street Journal is an American English-language international daily newspaper. It is published in New York City by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corporation, along with the Asian and European editions of the Journal....

    December 4, 2006
  • Dennis Ross discusses Statecraft at the Commonwealth Club of California
    Commonwealth Club of California
    The Commonwealth Club of California is a non-profit, non-partisan educational organization based in Northern California. Founded in 1903, it is the oldest and largest public affairs forum in the United States...

    , July 2, 2007
  • Dennis Ross: Myths, Illusions and Peace, The Economist
    The Economist
    The Economist is an English-language weekly news and international affairs publication owned by The Economist Newspaper Ltd. and edited in offices in the City of Westminster, London, England. Continuous publication began under founder James Wilson in September 1843...

    , May 28, 2009