Dennis Ross

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Dennis Ross (1948)- is a special assistant to President Barack Obama and senior director of the Central Region at the National Security Council. He has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, and also has been in think tanks generally associated with a pro-Israel policy, such as the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). He signed two Project for the New American Century letters: the “Statement on Post-War Iraq,” March 19, 2003; and the “Second Statement on Post-War Iraq,” March 28, 2003. With respect to Israel and Palestine, he has been identified with a two-state solution.[1]

In the Obama administration, he had initially been Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's advisor on the Persian Gulf and special envoy to Iran. In June 2009, he suddenly moved to the NSC, with speculation that Iran would not accept him as an emissary. [2] The NSC appointment includes Iran policy,[3] but also has been seen as an "olive branch to Israel". It actually has a broader scope, including Iraq and Afghanistan. According Aaron David Miller, a former Mideast peace negotiator,
It’s clear that if Obama wants to advance something on Iran, and on the Israeli-Palestinian front, he will need to reach a modus vivendi with Israel, and that will require someone who knows the Israelis well.[4]
A specific concern of Iran's may have been the book he wrote with David Makovsky, which differs with Obama's policy Myths, Illusions, and Peace—Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East, saying that the United States must delink Iran policy from Israeli-Palestinian conflict which made observations such as
"Tougher policies - either militarily or meaningful containment - will be easier to sell internationally and domestically if we have diplomatically tried to resolve our differences with Iran in a serious and credible fashion.[5]

Retired ambassador to four countries and Middle East Institute fellow Richard Murphy expressed that he is trusted by the Israelis, but may be able to find common ground between Israel and Iran. [6]

During G.W. Bush Administration

He was a Ziegler Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and on the board of Middle East Quarterly. He has been part of the group United Against Nuclear Iran.

Clinton Administration

When Bill Clinton was elected, he stayed at State as special Middle East envoy.

George H.W. Bush

He was the lead foreign policy adviser to the George H. W. Bush administration, becoming an assistant to Bush's Secretary of State, James Baker.

Reagan Administration

In the Ronald Reagan administration, he was a member of the Policy Planning Staff of the State Department, headed by his mentor, Paul Wolfowitz. He was also on the NSC staff as director for Near East and South Asian Affairs, and became the Deputy Director of the Office of Net Assessment at the Defense Department.

Early career

During the Carter Administration, he worked for Paul Wolfowitz in the U.S. Department of Defense, on a project called the Limited Contingency Study. [7]

Ross holds a BA and PhD in Political Science from the University of California. In high school, he worked for George McGovern, and next campaigned for Robert Kennedy.


  1. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt (2007), The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, ISBN 13978037417720
  2. Barak Ravid (15 June 2009), "Why is Dennis Ross being ousted as Obama envoy to Iran?", Haaretz
  3. "TimesTopics: Dennis B. Ross", New York Times, 17 June 2009
  4. Nathan Guttman (1 July 2009), "Some See Extended Olive Branch For Israel In Ross Appointment to NSC", Jewish Daily Forward
  5. Dennis Ross and David Makovsky (2009), Myths, Illusions, and Peace—Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East, Viking Adult, ISBN 0670020893
  6. Abbas Al Lawati (26 March 2009), "Richard W. Murphy" Obama has the final say", Gulfnews
  7. James Mann, The Rise of the Vulcans (Viking , 2004), pp. 79-80, quoted by RightWeb [1]