Friday, January 23, 2009

Danger of Dennis Ross Still Looms

Believe it or not, and contrary to the direction some of my formerly Obama-maniac friends are going, I am actually becoming more hopeful in what is possible under an Obama administration. Anyone who was present among the masses gathered during inauguration can't deny that this guy is different, or at least different enough that it is worth engaging him. Instead of withdrawing, the progressive forces who are responsible for bringing Obama to power should continue to press him to make sure that he is held accountable for his promises.

And many have been doing that already. It appears that the outcry against Dennis Ross as the Special Middle East Envoy was successful. The appointment of Mitchell, while sure not to please everyone in the progressive community, is certainly perceived by most as a positive development.

Unfortunately, insiders in DC are now discussing rumors that while Ross may not receive any kind of "envoy" status, he may still be in charge of an "Iran Portfolio." The scope and nature of this position is not yet clear, but for all of the reasons outlined in my previous post, putting Ross in charge of Iran policy is tantamount to putting the wolf in charge of the chicken coop.

If Obama is serious about changing Iran policy, then he must steer clear of appointing someone who could have easily been appointed by the Bush-Cheney administration. While I understand the pragmatism and rhetoric of "working with both sides of the aisle," there is no need to reach out to extremists and place them in the most sensitive posts.

I hope everyone who is well-placed, or not so well-placed, will speak out against the appointment of Dennis Ross to any and all government positions dealing with Iran or the region more broadly.