What do you believe?
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: Do you have a personal philosophy?
Dennis Ross: Well I think the basic philosophy is _________ a philosophy of life – that you always have a passion in life other than yourself. You have to have a passion in life that’s larger than yourself. And it gives you perspective. You know on the one hand it’s easy to say when you feel a certain responsibility that maybe you lose perspective or lose a sense of humility. I can assure you that when you work on a conflict that is so frustrating to deal with and so hard to deal with, you’re constantly reminded of your own limitations. So it’s pretty easy to remain humble when you’re dealing with a conflict like the one between the Arabs and the Palestinians. But it’s also pretty easy to think about passions or issues other than yourself. And I think, if there’s anything that has been a kind of valued philosophy for me, that’s probably it.
Recorded on: September 12, 2007
It is important to have a passion in life that's bigger than yourself, says Ross.
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