How do you contribute?
Dennis Ross is an American diplomat and author. He has served as the Director of Policy Planning in the State Department under President George H. W. Bush, the special Middle East coordinator under President Bill Clinton, and is currently a special adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia (that includes Iran) to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Ambassador Dennis Ross is The Washington Institute's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow. For more than twelve years, Ambassador Ross played a leading role in shaping U.S. involvement in the Middle East peace process and dealing directly with the parties in negotiations. A highly skilled diplomat, Ambassador Ross was U.S. point man on the peace process in both the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations. He was instrumental in assisting Israelis and Palestinians to reach the 1995 Interim Agreement; he also successfully brokered the 1997 Hebron Accord, facilitated the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty, and intensively worked to bring Israel and Syria together.
A scholar and diplomat with more than two decades of experience in Soviet and Middle East policy, Ambassador Ross worked closely with Secretaries of State James Baker, Warren Christopher, and Madeleine Albright. Prior to his service as special Middle East coordinator under President Clinton, Ambassador Ross served as director of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff in the first Bush administration. In that capacity, he played a prominent role in U.S. policy toward the former Soviet Union, the unification of Germany and its integration into NATO, arms control negotiations, and the 1991 Gulf War coalition. During the Reagan administration, he served as director of Near East and South Asian affairs on the National Security Council staff and deputy director of the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment. Ambassador Ross was awarded the Presidential Medal for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service by President Clinton, and Secretaries Baker and Albright presented him with the State Department's highest award.
Question: What impact does your work have on the world?
Dennis Ross: Well what I hope my work will have an impact on is identifying conflicts where actually you say, “Alright look. We don’t have to live with these conflicts. We can try to settle them.” One of the reasons that I think it’s so valuable to work on the Arab-Israeli conflict is there is a perception in the world where that’s simply intractable.
Now if you could actually solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, it would have an impact psychologically everywhere. I mean it’s not a panacea. For those who say, “Gee, if we could just solve the Palestinian issue, we wouldn’t have a conflict in Iraq. Iran wouldn’t be pursuing nuclear weapons.” That’s ridiculous. They would be, and we’d still have a conflict in Iraq. The Sunni-Shia divide is not a function of what goes on between Israelis and Palestinians. Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons because they have ambitions to dominate the region.
I like to say about Iran that if you watch the Sopranos, you understand the Iranians. Basically they want the position of being able to have everyone know that if Iran doesn’t want you to do something you don’t do it. So the critical thing is you’re not going to solve everything by solving this conflict. But you send a message everywhere internationally that if this, the most intractable of all conflicts, in fact can be resolved, then any conflict can be resolved.
September 12, 2007
Ross hopes his work will help people resolve conflict in an analytical and productive manner.
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