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Why Ross? Why Iran?

For those of us who weren’t exited by the prospect of Mideast Peace Envoy Dennis Ross, the trouble was that Ross was too much a neocon, too much a hawk, too much “Israel’s Lawyer”. But by the same token you could see why a president might want to go in that direction. Plenty of people agree with Ross’s approach, and Ross was — and is — certainly well-qualified for an Israeli-Arab conflict post if you favor his approach. But Obama went in a different direction and was right to do so.

But Iran? This seems like a job for which you’d want either an Iran specialist, or else a non-proliferation specialist. But Ross is neither. He doesn’t have a background negotiation disarmament deals, and he’s not an Iran expert — he doesn’t speak Persian as far as I know.

So what’s the appeal here? It seems like the idea is perhaps to keep Ross “on the inside pissing out” without actually putting him in charge of the peace process portfolio. Or else it’s an effort to appease the Abe Foxmans of the world who can’t handle the idea of a fair envoy. But is this just creating a situation in which the Iran envoy would be undermining the Israel envoy? And how would this advance U.S. interests vis-à-via Iran? The Iran nuclear issue is a very important one, President Obama has proposed a significant departure from status quo Iran policy, and Secretary of State Clinton has emphasized the need for the groundwork for such a departure to be carefully laid. That seems to call for putting in charge someone who’s skills and background are more closely tailed to the ask.

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