Dennis B. Ross (born November 26, 1948) is an American diplomat and author. He has served as the Director of Policy Planning in the State Department under President George H. W. Bush, the special Middle East coordinator under President Bill Clinton, and was a special adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia (which includes Iran) to the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Ross was born in San Francisco and grew up in Marin County. His Jewish mother and Catholic stepfather raised him in a non-religious atmosphere. Ross graduated from University of California, Los Angeles, in 1970 and did graduate work there, writing a doctoral dissertation on Soviet decision-making. He later became religiously Jewish after the Six Day War. In 2002 he co-founded the Kol Shalom synagogue in Rockville, Maryland.
During President Jimmy Carter's administration, Ross worked under Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz in the Pentagon. There he co-authored a study recommending greater U.S. intervention in the Persian Gulf region "because of our need for Persian Gulf oil and because events in the Persian Gulf affect the Arab–Israeli conflict." During the Reagan administration, Ross served as director of Near East and South Asian affairs in the National Security Council and Deputy Director of the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment (1982–84).
Ross returned briefly to academia in the 1980s, serving as executive director of the Berkeley-Stanford program on Soviet international behavior from 1984–1986. In the mid-1980s Ross co-founded, with Martin Indyk, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)-sponsored Washington Institute for Near East Policy ("WINEP"). His first WINEP paper called for, among other things, appointment of a "non-Arabist Special Middle East envoy" who would "not feel guilty about our relationship with Israel."..
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