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World Affairs

SOF Digital Discussion: The Abraham Accord: A New Dawn? Opportunities and Challenges for US Foreign Policy in the Middle East

Join us for a conversation featuring Vali Nasr, Majid Khadduri Professor of Middle East and International Affairs School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University; and Ambassador Dennis Ross, Counselor and William Davidson Distinguished Fellow. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Professor Nasr and Ambassador Ross will conduct a wide-ranging exploration of the potential geopolitics impacts of the recent peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

*If you are not currently a member of the Society of Fellows, and are interested in joining, contact the SOF team at or (970) 544-7980.


Vali Nasr is the Majid Khadduri Professor of International Affairs and Middle East Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Between 2012 and 2019 he served as the Dean of the School, and between 2009 and 2011 as Senior Advisor to U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.  

He is the author of “The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat,” “Forces of Fortune: The Rise of a New Middle Class and How it Will Change Our World,” “The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam will Shape the Future,” and “Democracy in Iran: History and the Quest for Liberty.” He has written for The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, and provided commentary to numerous media outlets. 

Nasr He is a member of International Board of Advisors of the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University and the American University of Beirut. He is a Carnegie Scholar for 2006. 

Ambassador Dennis Ross is counselor and William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He is also Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University. For more than twelve years, Amb. Ross played a leading role in shaping U.S. involvement in the Middle East peace process, dealing directly with the parties as the U.S. point man on the peace process in both the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations. He served two years as special assistant to President Obama and National Security Council senior director for the Central Region, and a year as special advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

Prior to his service as special Middle East coordinator under President Clinton, Amb. Ross served as director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff in the first Bush administration. He played a prominent role in U.S. policy towards the former Soviet Union, the unification of Germany and its integration into NATO, arms control negotiations, and the 1991 Gulf War coalition. During the Reagan administration, he served as director of Near East and South Asian affairs on the National Security Council staff and deputy director of the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment. 

A graduate of UCLA, Amb. Ross wrote his doctoral dissertation on Soviet decision-making, and served as executive director of the Berkeley-Stanford program on Soviet International Behavior. He received UCLA’s highest medal and has been named UCLA alumnus of the year. Amb. Ross is the author of five books on the peace process, the Middle East, and international relations, most recently Be Strong and of Good Courage: How Israel’s Most Important Leaders Shaped Its Destiny (PublicAffairs, 2019), written with his colleague David Makovsky, which was published in September 2019. It provides profiles of four Israeli prime ministers who made historic choices and explores the lessons from those decisions to see if they can provide a guide to dealing with the fateful choice that Israel’s leaders must soon confront or by default become a binational state. 

Previously, Amb. Ross authored Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2015). That book was awarded the 2015 National Jewish Book Award for history. He also co-authored Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East (Viking, 2009) with Mr. Makovsky. An earlier study, The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2004), offers comprehensive analytical and personal insight into the Middle East peace process. The New York Times praised his 2007 publication, Statecraft, And How to Restore America’s Standing in the World (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2007), as “important and illuminating.” 

Event information
Thu Sep 17, 2020
2:30pm - 3:15pm EDT
Digital Discussion