President Obama’s presumptive choice to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state in his second term is in the middle of a partisan storm stirred up by angry Republican lawmakers over her role in the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans. But others argue that the Libya incident and her role in disseminating information about its aftermath is not why Susan Rice would be a poor choice to be the nation’s chief diplomat.
Rice, the current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is a dedicated Obama confidante who has won the admiration and support of the president and has been pegged as the most likely successor to Hillary Clinton. Proof of her status as an Obama favorite has come from his quick defense of Rice in the immediate wake of his reelection, as Republicans launched verbal attacks on her over comments she made about the Benghazi attack.
The president lashed out at those that would “besmirch” her character in his first post-election press conference, cementing Rice’s position at the top of the contenders to lead the State Department in 2013.
With his fiery defense of his ambassador to the United Nations, President Obama appears to have committed himself to nominating Susan Rice to be secretary of State and making her confirmation fight a test of wills with Senate Republicans, congressional aides and Democratic strategists said Thursday.
These Democratic insiders said that by defending Rice on Wednesday against what he called “outrageous” GOP criticism for her comments on the deadly militant attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, Obama was betting on a confirmation victory that would deter Republicans from challenging nominations as often as they did in his first term.
Obama said during a White House news conference Wednesday that Rice had “nothing to do” with the handling of the Benghazi attacks, and that her comments on Sept. 16 were based on intelligence she had been given. “To besmirch her reputation is outrageous,” he said.
Obama insisted he had not yet made a final decision on whether to choose Rice. But the Democratic observers said it would be difficult now for Obama to choose another candidate, because it would signal weakness in an opening tangle with a Senate Republican caucus that appears eager to challenge him.
Nothing has soothed the burgeoning opposition to any forthcoming Rice nomination among Republicans on Capitol Hill, sensing a rare opportunity to embarrass the newly reelected president so soon after his political triumph.
Despite a “charm offensive” orchestrated by the White House this week, with Rice holding meetings with some of her top GOP critics like Sen. John McCain, her foes insist they are more “troubled” than ever about supporting her for secretary of state.
United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice’s attempts to “make nice” with a trio of Republican senators who have criticized her response to the Sept. 11 terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, seem to have backfired.
The senators said they left their face-to-face meeting with Rice this morning “more concerned” and “significantly troubled.”
The three Republicans, Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, said not only did Rice, who was joined by Acting CIA Director Mike Morell, not answer all their questions about the attack but did little to assuage their overall worries.
“We are significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got, and some that we didn’t get concerning evidence that was overwhelming leading up to the attack on the consulate,” McCain said.
“The concerns I have are greater today than before, and we’re not even close to getting the basic answers,” Graham said.
Today’s meeting was seen as part of Rice’s Capitol Hill “charm offensive,” as her possible nomination to become the next secretary of state has met with some vocal opposition – especially from McCain, Graham and Ayotte, who still seemed to steer clear of questions about whether they would stand in the way if Rice was nominated.
Vocal opposition to Rice’s possible nomination has been entirely partisan; most Republicans intent on attacking her while Democrats and most progressives stand with the president in lavishing praise on her record.
Almost all of the focus on the cabinet qualifications of Susan Rice have focused on the Benghazi incident and the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya. Critics claim she lied in briefing the media on the details of the attack days after it occurred this past September.
But a far more credible challenge to the idea of Rice as the top American diplomat lies far removed from conservative quibbles over Libyan consulates. It raises questions of why so many progressives march in lockstep with an administration devoid of any shared principles and devoted to foreign policy doctrine quickly becoming indistinguishable from the political opposition.
A “protege” of Clinton secretary of state Madeline Albright, apologist for pro-American dictators, and disciple of the “Israel first” policy prevalent at all levels of US government , Sean Fenley writes in Dissident Voice that Susan Rice is “unfit” for a cabinet job.
Susan Rice is, unequivocally, irascible, mean-spirited and a very disagreeable person. This has not previously been an impediment, though, to one becoming a US Secretary of State. We can probably all recall the fiendish relish that Hillary Clinton took in the illicit and barbarian slaughter of Col. Muammar Qaddafi. Seemingly possessed and gleefully uttering, “We came we saw he died!” Died at the hands of thuggish Salafi “democratic” ruffians, that were being resolutely backed by the NATO vehemency to overthrow the ostensible “mad dog of the Middle East”. And moreover, who can forget Condoleeza Rice soiling the developing minds of our youth, by justifying the unjustifiable — torture — to a fourth grade student who pressed her on the anti-American practice (under the George W. Bush ignoble and traitorous regime/clique). And then there’s, of course, never to be forgotten; “Bloody” Madeleine Albright, who famously asserted in 1996 that the death of a half of a million Iraqi children was well worth the price.
This kind of information is why Susan Rice is unfit to ascend to the position of a US cabinet secretary. The spurious allegations forwarded by benighted US senators — from red Southern and Southwestern states — is a whole ‘nother matter altogether. And, of course, race I think always has to be looked at, when we are bringing up such representatives of such states weighing in on a minority rising to a muscular, significant, and weighty position of power.
Whoever does receive the Secretary of State position appointed by Obama, undoubtedly, he or she will likely be very similar, anyhow. To get someone in who would consistently support democracy (like also in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, etc.), is just not going to be a reality/happen. And moreover, to have genuine concern for who the United States is supporting/arming — when the United States opposes a government and disregards its rightful territorial sovereignty — will probably not be an indispensable consideration also.
Lastly, a US Secretary of State who will give the Palestinians a fairer shake, is all but unthinkable too. This is, of course, so because of the way that the Likudnik lobby already controls so many of the congressmembers, senators, and the power centers of the corridors of Washington. I’d be remiss, of course, not to mention the inhuman strafing, targeting of civilian infrastructure, and unmitigated slaughter being forwarded by the Israeli killing machine at the present. However, as it is already widely known, a plethora of Israel firsters populate the United States’ government, at many of the highest levels of authority/power (of this or in fact any American regime). Thusly, Obama has already given a wink and a nod to this wicked, and ignoble Israeli wholly barbarian carnage and genocidal warfare.
A further stain upon Rice’s diplomatic legacy is her record as UN ambassador, particularly her rhetoric and actions during the recent Israeli attack on Hamas-led Gaza.
Though clearly just parroting official Obama administration policy, which is to defend Israel at all costs, Rice managed to block any attempts at humanitarian intervention on behalf of the Palestinians as hundreds of mostly civilian Gazans were killed in Israel strikes.
The United States defended Israel. Susan Rice put the onus on Hamas. “There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel,” she said. “Israel, like any nation, has the right to defend itself against such vicious attacks.” The sentences sting with contradictions. Israel is not just a nation in this conflict, but an occupying power, who has violated a string of UN resolutions and the Geneva Convention in its treatment of the people it has occupied since 1967. Furthermore, while the United States has listed Hamas as a terrorist organization, this same political party also won relatively free and fair elections in Gaza in 2006 (at which point the Hamas leadership sent US President George W. Bush an unanswered letter with the proposal that they would accept Israel on the 1967 borders). Israel has been obdurate in its reluctance to make peace as long as the United States has backed it, and as long as its settlement policy in the West Bank can change the facts on the ground and its strangulation policy in Gaza can suffocate the population into irrelevance. Rice put her foot down in the Council. It could take no action.
It has been one of the clichés of Susan Rice’s tenure at the UN Security Council that she has criticized the Council for its paralysis. She has suggested, notably around Syria, that the permanent members (Russia and China) have prevented a strong rebuke of the Assad regime, and therefore have tethered any international (meaning NATO) response to the grotesque violence in that country. In the case of Israel, the shoe is on the other foot.
(Principled Progressive is taking the rest of the week off. We will return with regular content on Monday!)