February 2009 Archives

February 8, 2009

Masters in Criminal Justice’s ‘Top 50 Foreign Policy Blogs’

The Masters in Criminal Justice blog included The Diplomatic Times Review in its list of Top 50 Foreign Policy Blogs at number 16 in the “U.S. and North America Foreign Policy” category.

Masters in Criminal Justice blogger Laura Milligan noted in a February 4, 2009, post:

Foreign policy affects our future regarding economics, human rights and living standards, safety, war and alliances with other countries, and even the environment. If you want to learn more about foreign policy, U.S. diplomacy and international law, read these blogs by professors, journalists and other experts to stay on top of the U.S. actions around the world.
Thanks to the blog for including The Diplomatic Times Review in some very distinguished company.

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Biden: U.S. Determined to Set New Tone in Relations Around the World

Christian Science Monitor Correspondent Scott Peterson noted in a February 5, 2009, dispatch from Iran that, "The Obama administration [raised concerns in Iran about improving relations when it] announced this week that it will retain Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department official who also sparked complaints from Iran when, working for [President George W.] Bush." According to The Monitor, "he spearheaded US efforts to convince international banks as well as imageshipping and insurance companies to stop all dealings with Iran."

"But it is Obama's expected pick to handle the Iran portfolio – former Mideast envoy Dennis Ross – that has raised most questions in Tehran," Peterson reports reports. "Though not officially announced, diplomats say the appointment is all but certain. In Iran, Mr. Ross has been vilified as too hawkish and too close to Israel and pro-Israel lobbies in the US to be effective."

Peterson's observations on the prospect of improved relations between the United States and Iran are in a two-part report. One article is headlined "Iranians wary of Obama's approach." The second asks: "Is Iran prepared to undo 30 years of anti-Americanism?"

News that Ross would definitely be "the man" began to circulate within the diplomatic community in Washington, D.C., and the Middle East, in late January 2009, after journalists published reports based a memo circulated among staffers at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the pro-Israel think tank Ross has worked for since 2001. The memo essentially said Ross' appointment was a done deal.

On January 22, 2009, Politico circulated a copy of the memo, which states:

To: Members of the Board of Trustees
From: Chairman Fred Lafer, President Howard Berkowitz, and Executive
Director Robert Satloff

Re: Ambassador Dennis Ross to Join Obama Administration
We are delighted to share the news that Ambassador Dennis Ross, counselor and Ziegler Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute, has accepted an invitation to join the Obama administration as ambassador-at-large and senior advisor to Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton.

In that seventh-floor job, designed especially for him, Ambassador Ross will be the secretary’s top advisor on a wide range of Middle East issues, from the Arab-Israeli peace process to Iran. Ambassador Ross will not reprise his previous role as special Arab-Israeli peace envoy, a post that will be held by someone else; rather he will be working closely with both the special envoy and the secretary. Ambassador Ross is expected to take his post immediately after inauguration.

We know you share our pride in Ambassador Ross’s achievements, which reflect not only his outstanding contribution to U.S. foreign policy, but also the Institute’s unique role in supporting those who can advance peace and security in the Middle East.

The question today is why hasn't a Ross appointment been announced? Is he a detriment to attempts to forge a new beginning in U.S.- Middle East diplomacy? Did George John's Mitchell's appointment as the Obama Administration's highly regarded Middle East special envoy signal a lesser role, if any, for Ross? Just asking.

So, what's the bottom line? Both Iran and the U.S. have to swallow some pride and make concessions if relations are to improve.

For another perspective on the Ross affair, see Time magazine's "Obama Mideast Watch: "Where's Dennis?"

Note: This post was first published at The Foreign Policy Monitor & Review on February 07, 2009.

Expert Biography Photo: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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The Foreign Policy Monitor & Review

I’ve started a new blog to chronicle some of the proposed changes President Barack Obama has vowed to make in U.S. foreign policy and diplomacy. It’s called The U.S. Foreign Policy Monitor & Review, meaning the intent is monitor and review proposed policy changes.

image Some aspects of the blog will seem familiar since it uses some of the same elements found at The Diplomatic Times Review. However, a major difference is that The U.S. Foreign Policy Monitor & Review offers readers the opportunity to create accounts and contribute to diaries in a manner similar to what goes on at Daily Kos.

The U.S. Foreign Policy Monitor & Review welcomes contributions from diplomats, journalists, bloggers, scholars and anyone else interested in discussing, analyzing and chronicling key aspects of U.S. foreign policy and diplomacy in the current economic and political climate.

Finally, while the The U.S. Foreign Policy Monitor & Review is functional, some tweaking is still taking place on the backend. In the meantime, try it out.

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