Obama’s Middle East Policy – the Return of Bush41?

Massimo Calabresi notes the importance of Barack Obama having Dennis Ross join him during his trip to Israel:

Even before Barack Obama says a word upon his arrival in Israel next week, close observers of America’s role in the region will get a message from the presence in his delegation of a tall, slightly disheveled diplomat well known to the power players of the Middle East. In a region where simple words and gestures can be taken as weighty indicators of intent, Arabs and Israelis alike will see much meaning in the return of Dennis Ross. In one way, the message is simple: Ross, a career foreign service officer, was lead negotiator on Israeli-Palestinian issues for Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and he got the two sides as close as they’ve come to a peace deal before stepping down after the 2000 election. His presence alongside Obama in Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan is designed to signal the senator’s intent to resume the active pursuit of the peace process, which Obama claims President George W. Bush has derailed through inaction.

This story links to a profile of Dennis Ross

Few people in the world are as practiced in the diplomatic arts as Dennis Ross. After all, he served as a distinguished Middle East envoy for Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. But in his new book, Statecraft: and How to Restore America’s Standing in the World, Ross pulls no punches when assessing the actions of the current Administration: “After nearly four years of warfare, Iraq has been a disaster, costing thousands of lives, requiring the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars, stretching our forces and reserve system to the breaking point, and becoming a magnet for terrorists and hostility toward the United States throughout the Muslim world.”

Senator Hagel – a grownup member of the Republican Party – will join Senator Obama during the trip to Iraq. In my view, the more GOP grownups that President Obama asks to assist in the setting and implementation of his foreign policy, the better.