Ambassador Discusses Options For U.S. Exit From IraqMiddle East Ambassador Dennis Ross discussed his newest book,"Statecraft," at the New Jewish Book Festival, offering some options for a U.S. exit from Iraq.
Why we are mired in Iraq? "This administration didn't clarify its objectives. You can't simply say you want victory. What is victory? Is it containment?"
This was lesson No. 1 in "statecraft," the topic of Ambassador Dennis Ross's talk at the Jewish Community Center in West Hartford on May 21.
Ross discussed his latest book of the same title, Statecraft, the final offering in the New Jewish Book Festival Series for the year.
A well-known scholar, diplomat, author and lecturer, Ross played a leading role in shaping U.S. involvement in the Middle East peace process in both the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations.
Currently he is the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow, spending a great deal of time in the West Bank.
Lesson No. 2: "You must match your objectives to your means, which this administration also failed to do. We can't sustain a 10-15 year U.S. presence there."
He suggested there might be some type of central authority "with the political equivalent of a four-star general for overseeing foreign policy and natural resources and with everything else handled by sectarian or tribal neighborhoods. Or, we could have a managed transition, using withdrawal as leverage, in such a way that it is good for those willing to cooperate."
He made oblique references to some of the U.S. presidential candidates' proposals with Lesson No. 3: No rigid timetables. "If you have a red line and they step over it, did you really have red line?"
And the latest hot topic: Whether to sit down with enemy states or terrorist groups. Ross answered the first with the example of the Cuban missile crisis where catastrophe was averted "because we had a line of communication with the Soviet Union."
But when it comes to Hezbollah and Hamas, "No, they aren't states, but they want the legitimacy of a state. Jimmy Carter did Hamas a great service and did us a great disservice when he met with them. He gave Hamas legitimacy but brought back nothing."
He is not opposed to indirect contacts through intermediaries but rejects any official engagement that legitimizes them without forcing them to concede anything in advance. "And they must be prepared to accept the Israeli State."
Concomitant with any process of extrication, Ross emphasized the real and present danger of a nuclear Iran. "The Iranians have no fear of us. Hezbollah has no fear of us. And how can the other nations make peace with Israel if they fear retaliation from Iran?"
The program was funded in part by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and the Abe and Rae Kopplemann Fund and the Donald S. Hauss, M.D. Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford.