Ambassador is a former U.S. special representative for Syria engagement and former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and Iraq; from 2013-2018 he was the Philip Solondz Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute. He currently chairs the Wilson Center’s Middle East Program.
Dennis Ross, a former special assistant to President Barack Obama, is the counselor and William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute.
Given the unprecedented turmoil and uncertainty afflicting the Middle East, the new administration will need to devote particular care and urgency to understanding the essence of America's interests in the region, and applying clear principles in pursuing them. This is the advice offered by two U.S. diplomats with a distinguished record of defending those interests under various administrations.
As Trump and his team take office, they face a regional state system that is under assault by proxy wars that reflect geopolitical rivalries and conflicts over basic identity. Rarely has it been more important for a new administration to articulate clear goals and principles, and Ambassadors James Jeffrey and Dennis Ross outline both in this transition paper.
With 30 percent of the world's hydrocarbons still flowing from the Middle East, safeguarding that supply remains a critical U.S. national security interest, along with preventing nuclear proliferation, countering terrorism, and preserving stability. In their view, the best way to pursue these interests is to emphasize a coherent set of guiding principles, namely:
Containing Iran and its Shiite proxies
Defeating the Islamic State
Combatting other radical Sunni Islamists
Maintaining alliances and partnerships
Exercising U.S. military power with caution
Complementing hard power with economic and soft power
AMBASSADOR JAMES F. JEFFREY, the Philip Solondz Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute, is a former deputy national security advisor and U.S. ambassador to Turkey and Iraq.
AMBASSADOR DENNIS ROSS, the William Davidson Distinguished Fellow and counselor at The Washington Institute, formerly served as special assistant to President Obama, as National Security Council senior director for the Central Region, and as special advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. He was U.S. point man on the peace process in both the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations.
TRANSITION 2017 SERIES
Founded in 1985, The Washington Institute is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to scholarly research and informed debate on U.S. policy in the Middle East. Following in the tradition of seven previous presidential election cycles, the Institute's Presidential Transition Papers are designed to provide a new administration with sound analysis, creative ideas, and useful recommendations to advance U.S. interests in the Middle East.
Transition 2017: Policy Notes for the Trump Administration