Dennis Ross’ growth opportunity

If Barack Obama is elected president next week, he will likely appoint Dennis Ross to a high level foreign policy-making position. That move will be treated by the MSM as a sign that Obama is a “moderate” on foreign policy and a friend of Israel. Indeed, the fact that the MSM will report it this way is a key reason why Ross, in all likelihood, is in line for an important spot.

There’s considerable irony here because no figure in American history has caused more harm to Israel than Dennis Ross. For something like ten years, Ross dedicated himself, and U.S. foreign policy, to the proposition that Arafat was a true potential “peace partner” for Israel. This was always an implausible proposition, and only a fool could have believed it for a decade. Unfortunately, as Noah Pollak says, the result of Ross’ foolishness was “a four-year Palestinian terror onslaught.”

That Ross hasn’t learned anything is clear from this interview with Haaretz. It turns out that he is now prepared to apply his failed vision to Iran:

Obama wants to use our willingness to talk as a means to get others to actually apply more pressure on the Iranians, as a way to ensure the talks’ success, but also because the talks themselves send a signal [to] those who fear [that] applying more pressure means you’re descending toward a slippery slope of confrontation.

Ross does not defend his assumption that talking to the Iranians will “get others to apply more pressure” on them, much less that it will thereby “ensure the talks’ success.” Only a fool and a narcissist could believe that the extent to which other nations apply pressure on Iran is driven by whether we are talking to the Iranians, rather than by their own national interests, and in particular their economic interests.

Naturally, Ross plans to re-inflict his notion of a “peace process” on Israel as well:

When you don’t engage, you leave the way open for your adversaries to actually gain more. The Bush administration wanted to disengage for its first six years in office. [By doing so] they actually strengthened Hamas’ hand, because Hamas’ argument is [that] there is no possibility for peace. The least you want to do is show that there could be an alternative answer.

What the Bush administration actually did was give Israel the breathing space it needed to end the terrorism that Ross’ “engagement” helped unleash. If, in the process, Hamas gained in influence on the West Bank and in Gaza as compared to Arafat’s successors, this should be viewed with indifference.

In any case, Ross offers no evidence that Hamas’ gains were due to the absence of his vision of a peace process, as opposed to, say, Palestinian frustration that their ability to kill Israelis was diminished. In fact, he offers no evidence that the Palestinians desire peace with Israel. As Pollak observes, polling data indicate that most Palestinians don’t want a two state solution.

Pollak also suggests that Ross has it backwards when he argues that the absence of a peace process vindicates Palestinian “radicals.” It may actually be the peace that vindicates radicals by providing them with “a fragile initiative to destroy at a time of their choosing, humiliating Palestinian moderates and embarrassing the United States.” Pollak concludes that peace processes are “a growth opportunity for terrorists.”

They are certainly a growth opportunity for Dennis Ross.

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