Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dennis Ross Appointed Iran Adviser

Dennis Ross is apparently the supreme negotiations expert. He favors direct negotiations with Iran.
Reuters: U.S. foreign policy veteran Dennis Ross has been appointed special advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Gulf region, including Iran, and southwest Asia, the State Department announced on Monday.

"This is a region in which America is fighting two wars and facing challenges of ongoing conflict, terror, proliferation, access to energy, economic development and strengthening democracy and the rule of law," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said in a statement announcing the appointment.

Ross, a veteran of Arab-Israeli negotiations when Clinton's husband, Bill Clinton, was president, will advise on both Iran and the broader Middle East region.

The Obama administration is reviewing U.S. policy towards Iran. It is looking into ways of engaging Tehran on a broad range of issues from seeking cooperation in Afghanistan to giving up sensitive nuclear work that the West suspects is aimed at building an atomic bomb.
Here's what Ross wrote for Newsweek in Nov. 2008:
It's not too late to stop Iran from getting the bomb. Tehran clearly wants nukes for both defensive and offensive purposes. But it's not clear the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would sacrifice anything to get nuclear weapons. In fact, history shows that his government responds to outside pressure, restricting its actions when it feels threatened and taking advantage when it judges it can.
Iran needs more rewards for reversing course:
Iran has continued to pursue nuclear weapons because the Bush administration hasn't applied enough pressure—or offered Iran enough rewards for reversing course. The U.N. sanctions adopted in the past three years primarily target Iran's nuclear and missile industries, not the broader economy. Hitting the economy more directly would force the mullahs to make a choice. Iran has profound economic vulnerabilities: it imports 43 percent of its gas. Its oil and natural-gas industries—the government's key source of revenue, which it uses to buy off its population—desperately require new investment and technology. Smart sanctions would force Iran's leaders to see the high costs of not changing their behavior.
Here's what he wrote in 2006 on the advantage of negotiating directly with Iran.
An interview with Ross:

Ross gives a speech at South Florida Temple in 2008. He talks about Obama: