A position for Dennis Ross in the Obama administration has been rumored for months, but it’s been unclear what exactly it would be. JTA reported last month that it would be a top Middle East policy job, with a focus on Iran, and now CNN is saying the same thing, as well as offering a possible title and a date for his appointment:
Sources tell us that Ross’s new job in the State Department won’t be quite what many expected. Rather than being called an “Iran envoy,” Ross will have a title along the lines of Special Adviser to the Secretary of State dealing with Middle East issues.
Senior officials tell us the announcement will come early next week after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton returns from Asia.
What’s the difference? The problem with the “envoy” title is expectations. It sets them too high.
Yes, Ross will be handling the Iran portfolio. But “envoy” is such a lofty title that it would suggest that Ross would talk with Iran, and visit Iran, and deal directly with this nation that the State Department has listed as the State Department lists Iran as the most active state sponsor of terrorism because its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were directly involved in the planning and support of terrorist acts.
During his campaign, President Obama faced plenty of criticism for saying he’d be willing to talk with Iran.
So Ross will have a more ambiguous title. It might sound smaller — or bigger, depending on how you look at it. But that doesn’t change his job.