Earlier this week, I chronicled some of Amb. Dennis Ross‘ interactions with, white-washing of, and seeming affinity for several neoconservative individuals, groups, and ideas. A top Obama administration adviser with an ever-growing portfolio including Iran and, more recently, the Israeli-Arab conflict, Ross usually comes across as a member of the hawkish pro-Israel wing of the Democratic party.
But I’ve just stumbled upon something long overlooked that raises an even stronger case for the need to assess Ross’ closeness to the neoconservative movement — a group that has led U.S. foreign policy into so many disastrous undertakings, and that stands as the ideological driving force behind the dishonest campaign for war with Iraq and Iran. Now we have to ask: Just how close is Dennis Ross to the neoconservative movement?
According to the journal’s website, Ross, as he sits today in Barack Obama’s National Security Council, is a member of the board of editors of the neoconservative Middle East Quarterly. The Journal, whose editors have included AEI‘s Michael Rubin, Martin Kramer, and Efraim Karsh, is published by arch-hardliner Daniel Pipes; the journal is run out of his Middle East Forum think tank.
According to The Internet Archive’s “Way Back Machine,” which takes snapshots of webpages over time, Ross’ listing on the board of editors started sometime between July 2 and July 12, 2006. By the latter date, Ross’ affiliation is recorded as the Washington Institute for Near East Studies (WINEP), the AIPAC-formed think tank that he played a part in setting up, where he was a scholar. As of April 2008, Ross was still listed at MEQ with the WINEP affiliation.
Along with his membership on the board of the Jewish People’s Policy Institute (JPPI), a Jerusalem think tank, Ross gave up the WINEP gig when he moved to the administration.
But, as of today, he is still listed among the board of editors of MEQ. Interestingly, his affiliation has changed. Ross is now simply listed as:
That change suggests that the site has been updated since Ross left WINEP — a departure that coincided with the formal announcement of Ross’ appointment to the Obama administration. This raises the question of why Ross is continuing his institutional affiliation with a bastion of aggressive neoconservatism such as MEQ while serving as a top administration adviser on the Middle East.
On a Middle East Forum blog, Ross’ battles within the administration have been covered by former AIPAC’s administration relations director Steve Rosen, who has never acknowledged the ties between the Forum and the Quarterly or Ross’ role in the latter.
As far as I can tell, flipping through the journal and Middle East Forum’s archives, Ross doesn’t seem to ever have contributed to either, though he was interviewed for MEQ by Pipes and Ross’s former WINEP and (apparently) current MEQ colleague Patrick Clawson.
On the board of editors of MEQ, Ross is joined by Karsh, the editor; Pipes, the publisher; Rubin and Clawson, both senior editors; James Phillips, a fellow at the neoconservative Heritage Foundation; journalist and Hudson Institute fellow Lee Smith; and WINEP executive director Robert Satloff.
As of late Friday afternoon, the NSC and MEQ, both asked for comment, haven’t yet responded. I’ve asked if Ross is paid, and what his responsibilities are or have been. When they respond, I’ll update.
Ross was out of the country today, in Israel, trying to restart peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Iran — also in Ross’s portfolio — met with the P5+1, including the U.S., in Turkey.
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