TIME's midtøstenkorrespondent spør til og med "Hvor er Dennis?"
Det har vært en del spenning knyttet til hvem Obama kom til å utnevne som spesialutsendinger til midtøsten. Amerikanerne har ikke akkurat et imponerende rulleblad å vise til når det gjelder denne regionen, og behov for å få inn folk som har lært av andres feil på det dette feltet var en av mine hovedgrunner for å håpe på Obama-seier i november.
Jeg har lenge hatt en optimisme, større enn de aller fleste jeg kjenner, på at en fredsordning kan komme i stand innen kort tid (1-2 år) etter at Bush går av, med forbehold om at Obama virkelig ville bringe med seg endring på dette feltet.
Denne optimismen har nå fått et seriøst skudd for baugen, kanskje større enn konsekvensene av den krigen som foregår i Gaza akkurat nå.
De to heteste kandidatene til midtøstenutsending har vært Dennis Ross som i høyste grad representer USAs opplagt feilslåtte politikk (kilde: midtøsten), og Kurzer som har vært blant de mest konstruktive kritikerne av denne feilslåtte politikken. I grove trekk kan man si at Ross har blitt ansett som Israels mann. Ikke uventet er han også en populær skikkelse i den mektige jødiske lobbyorganisasjonen AIPAC, hvis agenda for å sikre israelsvennligheten til amerikanske folkevalgte er både beryktet og berømt for sin effektivitet.
Obama valgte Ross.
Philip Giraldi, tidligere offiser i CIA hadde dette å si om Ross før Obama ble valgt president (mine uthevinger):
But what is really scary about a possible Obama administration is Dennis Ross. Ross claims that he believes in diplomacy and has even written a book on the subject, though his one major foray in that area, Camp David in 2000, demonstrated that he was more interested in advancing Israeli interests than he was in creating a viable peace with the Palestinians. He was the architect of so-called "no surprises" negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis in which all positions supported by the U.S. had to be cleared by Israel before they were even placed on the table. If the Israelis said "no," the U.S. would back down.(...)Dette er hva den TIMEs svært dyktige midtøstenkorrespondentent, Scott McLeod, hadde å si om Ross dersom han skulle bli utnevnt:
Ross is a commentator for Fox News and the Ziegler distinguished fellow at WINEP, which he helped found in the 1980s. He is also chairman of the Jerusalem- based Jewish People Policy Planning Institute. He would only be a spear-carrier in the latest neocon absurdity if it weren't for the fact that he is a major player in the Obama campaign as Obama's top adviser on the Middle East and a key link to AIPAC. Ross reportedly has been helping the Obama campaign formulate positions that AIPAC would be comfortable with. It has been reported that Ross has aspirations to become secretary of state, but he lacks the seniority for that position and may instead focus on the Middle East, either at the State Department or the National Security Council. Ross-watchers believe that if he is put in charge of Middle Eastern policy, he will guarantee that only Israeli security concerns will matter to the new administration, because that is the position he has always taken in the past. If the bipartisan report is any indication, he will be particularly interested in defanging Iran, a position that he has made clear in speeches to Israeli audiences.
My take is that Ross would be a significant disappointment, Kurtzer an excellent choice. The contest, in fact, is more a tussle between two approaches to Middle East policy making than between individuals. The selection of a Dennis Ross would represent the past, which is to say the failure of U.S. policy in the region; Kurtzer would represent a change--a subtle change perhaps, but change nonetheless--given his frank acknowledgment of what has gone wrong with U.S. policy and a common sense prescription for getting it right.
Ross' s deep personal role in past failed policy ought to be enough to disqualify him from any supremo role. (...) He's already held the job of chief U.S. Middle East envoy for 12 years, through the Bush 41 and Clinton administrations, and wasn't very good at it. After the landmark Madrid peace conference, he and his bosses proved unable to coax Israelis and Palestinians toward an agreement; the Norwegians stepped in and secretly mediated the Oslo Accords between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat in 1993. By then, Ross's task was to implement the Oslo framework agreement, which envisioned a comprehensive and final peace deal by 1999. But Ross should take a large part of the responsibility for the mismanagement of the subsequent negotiations, which gradually dissolved into another Palestinian intifada, the worst spasm of violence in the conflict in 50 years, and the rise of the anti-negotiations Islamist Hamas group against Arafat's party.
Certainly, Arafat, Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu and Rabin's assassin, as well as Bill Clinton and other U.S. officials, deserve their proportional share of the blame. Yet, Ross's insistence on putting all the fault on Yasser Arafat--blaming himself and the Clinton administration only for trusting the Palestinian too much--is a testimony that is either disingenuous or breathtakingly self-absorbed. His palpable one-sidedness is why he remains completely distrusted by the Arabs he has negotiated with. Arabs always expected an American tilt toward Israel because of the strong U.S.-Israeli relationship; from bitter experience, they regard Ross as far too biased to be acceptable or successful as the "honest broker" for ending the conflict. "For far too long, many American officials involved in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, myself included, have acted as Israel's attorney, catering and coordinating with the Israelis at the expense of successful peace negotiations," Ross's longtime former deupty, Aaron David Miller, wrote in a devastating critique in the Washington Post in 2005.
Ross's past errors could be forgiven if they were not so deeply rooted in the flawed American policy for the Middle East that Ross has so helped perpetuate. Put simply, the failed U.S. approach holds that Israel's military dominance gives it ultimate leverage in negotiations, and that the U.S. should not use its considerable influence to pressure Israel too much on key issues like Israel's occupation of Arab territories, activities of Jewish settlers, rights of Palestinian refugees and future sovereignty over Jerusalem. Locked in this outlook, Ross proved too tolerant of Israeli overreaching, too ambivalent about the rights and legitimate interests of Palestinians and too tone deaf to the impending collapse of the peace process with all its grave consequences. As Aaron David Miller wrote of U.S. diplomacy on Ross's watch: "Far too often, particularly when it came to Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy, our departure point was not what was needed to reach an agreement acceptable to both sides but what would pass with only one -- Israel."
Kåre Willochs uttalelser om at Obamas utnevnelse av en jødisk stabssjef (Rahm Emanuel) er etter min mening en forsåvidt grei uttalelse. Hvis Obama hadde utnevnt en arabisk utsending til midtøsten, ville ikke det faktum vært verd å nevne for norske rikssynsere? Jeg tror ikke Mona Levin ville vært like krass i sine uttalelser hvis noen hadde påpekt at denne personen var arabisk. Willoch burde kanskje ikke bare nevnt Emanuel, men påpekt helheten i Obamas utnevnelser for å illustrere at hans administrasjon fort kan bli den mest Israelpartiske administrasjonen noensinne:
1. Han valgte den mest AIPAC-vennlige visepresidenten som var mulig å oppdrive, og selvutnevnt bestevenn av Israel: Joe Biden.
2. Stabssjef Rahm "Rahmbo" Emanuel
3. Utenriksminister Hillary Clinton, som er såpass neokonservativ at hun allerede har truet med å utslette(!!) Iran.
4. Nå altså Dennis Ross som midtøstenutsending
Alle disse fire var dessuten mer eller mindre sterke tilhengere av den katastrofale krigen i Irak.
Det er ikke noe galt i å være israelsvenn (jeg regner meg jo som det selv), men Obamas trang til å omgi seg med folk som etter alt å dømme ikke vil presse Israel til innrømmelser av noe slag, vil være ute av stand til å drive fredsmekling. Jeg håper selvfølgelig at denne frykten er ubegrunnet, at pragmatismen får råde og at Obama er mer opptatt av å tvinge partene til enighet enn han er redd for at AIPAC skal stikke kjepper i hjulene.
Jeg tillater meg å være skeptisk.