Monday, May 26, 2008

Gee, You Think WSJ Should Have Mentioned This?

In How to Have Successful Negotiations, Dennis Ross writes that to write off negotiations with Iran is to ignore what negotiations are all about:

A basic tool of statecraft, negotiations are used in every facet of foreign policy: to prevent conflict, to conclude hot or cold wars, to reconcile with former enemies, to build coalitions against possible aggressors, to mobilize donor efforts for reconstruction after conflicts or natural disasters, to forge or alter trade agreements, to persuade others to transform their behavior, and so on.

Negotiations certainly can be treated as a reward for those whose behavior one wants to change – and that is basically the way the Bush administration has approached them with adversaries. But if you approach negotiations this way, it means denying yourself a basic means to alter the behavior of others.

It also means denying yourself a basic tool to learn about those whose behavior you want to change. Direct talks offer a window into the psychic and political world of others – their aims, wants, needs and fears, as well as their readiness and capability to change.

Fair enough. But before he ever gets to this point, Ross throws in--in connection to President Bush's controversial mention of appeasement in his speech to the Knesset:
While some thought the president had Barack Obama in mind because of his readiness to talk to Iran and Syria, his words could more appropriately be applied to John McCain's reaction to Hamas's election victory in 2006. At that time, Sen. McCain felt that Hamas should be engaged because the election indicated it was a reality that had to be dealt with.
Why would Ross throw in that mention of McCain--especially when McCain did not advocate engaging in talks with Hamas?

Ed Morrissey quotes from a statement McCain made in January 26, 2006:
In the wake of yesterday’s Palestinian elections, Hamas must change itself fundamentally - renounce violence, abandon its goal of eradicating Israel and accept the two-state solution. These elections are evidence that democracy is indeed spreading in the Middle East, but Hamas is not a partner for peace so long as they advocate the overthrow of Israel.
In a CNN interview 2 days later on January 28, McCain replied to a question on the impact of the Hamas election victory on US relations with the Palestinian Arabs:
Well, hopefully, that Hamas now that they are going to govern, will be motivated to renounce this commitment to the extinction of the state of Israel. Then we can do business again, we can resume aid, we can resume the peace process.
The claim in The Washington Post that McCain was being hypocritical in criticizing Obama's willingness to talk with terrorists by supporting talks with Hamas--this claim has been debunked.

So what led to Ross's sloppiness in claiming otherwise?

According to the bio info that the WSJ supplies at the end of the op-ed:
Mr. Ross, now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was special Middle East coordinator in the Clinton administration. He is the author of "Statecraft and How to Restore America's Standing in the World" (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2007).
But the WSJ left something out. From The JTA
Obama: I get my Mideast advice from Dennis Ross

Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) told a group of Jewish communal lay leaders that he is receiving advice on Middle East issues from Dennis Ross.

The Democratic presidential hopeful made the disclosure during a closed meeting in New York with 25 Jewish leaders, according to a Jewish organizational source familiar with what was said at the gathering. It comes, as the senator's campaign is making a concerted effort to reach out to the Jewish community across the country.

Too bad The Wall Street Journal did not see fit to mention that, considering the centrality of the topic to criticism of Obama.

The JTA article notes:
Ross, who served in the State Department of both Bush administrations and the Clinton administration, has displayed a rare ability to command respect from a wide swath of the political spectrum within the Jewish community.
Not if he continues to pull stunts like this.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad

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