Wars make for unlikely alliances, and so does the buildup to war. Take the case of Susan Rice, the leading candidate for nomination as the next U.S. Secretary of State. Dr. Rice is more than anyone else the person who convinced President Obama to unleash U.S. airpower to destroy the Libyan Army as it rolled toward the opposition stronghold of Benghazi last Spring.
Time Magazine observed in March 24, 2011 issue about Rice’s role in swaying the President: http://www.time.com/...
Obama gave Rice the go-ahead . . .
Until she began to express misgivings this Spring about the dangers of the religious-based civil war spreading across the region, Dr. Rice was one of the most vociferous champions of international armed intervention against Syria.
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On October 4, 2011, Russia and China led a group of countries in a veto of a Security Council resolution authored by Rice similar to that which had in the Spring authorized the use of outside force in Libya. Brazil, India, South Africa and Lebanon abstained in the Syria vote. After the measure failed to pass, Dr. Rice used language unusual for a diplomat to say that Russia and China had carried out “a cheap ruse” and, addressing a press conference after the vote, she said that the Syrians “have been slapped in the face by several members of this Security Council today.”
And as I said in the chamber, I think the people of Syria and the people of the region have had today the opportunity to determine who among us stand with the people of the region in their quest for a better future, and who will go to whatever lengths are necessary to defend dictators who are on the warpath. . .As a decidedly hawkish UN Ambassador, Dr. Rice has also been the point of the spear in the escalating US confrontation with Iran. Her rhetoric toward that country has been often hostile, played out on the UN stage underlined by gathering regime change operations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), amidst multiple sanctions and destabilization of the Iranian economy under the U.S.-led sanctions regime.
I think Libya has been beat to death, overused, and misused by countries as an excuse by countries to not undertake their responsibilities with regard to Syria.
During the past three years, US relations with Iran have steadily deteriorated as international sanctions orchestrated by Ambassador Rice have intensified. Iran sees the U.S. as playing a see-saw game of military threats and economic warfare with Israel to ratchet up pressure and tensions. The Jerusalem Post reported on September 16, 2012: http://www.jpost.com/...
US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Sunday that "there is no daylight" between Israel and the United States on the issue of the Iranian nuclear program, in an interview with CNN. The comments came after a media blitz by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the United States. . .Rice also came under fire from some quarters for what is said is her mischaracterization of the attack in Benghazi and the situation in Libya. At a UN press conference five days after the attack, Rice hinted that Muslim riots may have been instigated by a "handful of extremists," citing Libya as an example. "The United States is extremely popular in Libya," she said.
As has been pointed out elsewhere, this does not appear to be the first time the UN Ambassador has cut the truth of the U.S. role in Libya and Syria rather close to the edge. In a statement in May in which she announced the U.S. would not be providing direct military support to Syrian rebels, Rice stated: http://www.npr.org/...
"They should also ask, frankly who are they arming inside of the Syrian opposition? You know and we know it is not a unified opposition. It's fragmented. They don't have the common command and control. There are some extremist elements mixed in there. We know much less about the leadership and the intentions of the Syrian opposition than we did even of the Libyan opposition at the time. And I want to remind you that we did not arm the Libyan opposition."Even if that last statement is technically accurate, it does not fully capture the truth. As Think Progress pointed out in June after the NY Times reported the CIA is coordinating the arming of the Syrian opposition: http://thinkprogress.org/...
The Libyan rebels were instead armed by various other U.S. allies, such as the tiny Gulf sheikhdom of Qatar. Those Qatari arms flowed with the knowledge of the U.S.. The New York Times reported this week that Syrian activists said exactly the same dynamic was already at work in Syria, with the U.S. “consulted” on the weapons transfers of Qatari purchases of Turkish anti-tank missiles for Syrian fighters. “Officials in Washington said the United States did not take part in arms shipments to the rebels, though they recognized that Syria’s neighbors would do so,” the Times reported.This follows on criticism that has been heard that Rice has in the past tended to filter her public judgments in combative terms expressed in ways that seem to some ears unbalanced and ideologically tinged. According to The Washington Post, Rice’s critics have pointed out that that “her promotion of human rights has been selective.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/...
“She tends to be strongest when the human rights violations involved are committed by U.S. adversaries,” said Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch. “But she is less strong when violations are committed by U.S. friends, like Rwanda or Israel, or by governments more in the middle, like Sri Lanka.”Given Rice’s hawkish role as the Administration’s champion of US intervention in the region, it thus seems implausible that John McCain, who has to qualify as one of our time’s greatest enthusiasts for American military intervention and all things war-like, would actually be out to scuttle Rice’s appointment as Secretary of State. This is particularly so since her leading competitor for that post is Sen. John Kerry, who is identified with the effort early in the Obama Administration to use back-channels negotiations to entice Syrian President Assad out of the Iranian orbit in what proved to an ultimately futile effort to remake relationships in the region through peaceful means.
What seems to have actually happened (whether concerted or not, we may never know), is that the more hawkish wings in both parties are working together to cast Rice as a victim of partisan, and some have read into it a racist campaign of vilification over Benghazi. This has obscured some very real questions about what the US Ambassador and the oversized CIA station in Benghazi were doing.
Indeed, we have heard much about “dog whistles”, referring to what is taken as the patronizing tone of some GOP Senators who have used off-hand remarks about her, characterizing Rice (inaccurately and offensively) as “unqualified” and “not very bright.”
The effect, quite predictably, has been a circling of the wagons around Rice by many Democrats who might otherwise be more skeptical of her. In fact, the apparently stupid things that some Republican notables have alleged and said about her are an effective provocation and distraction. The more we hear about dog whistles and Benghazi, the more scandal fatigued many become. In the end, the real casualty is our attention span, and the less we want to look at the smoking heap which is the real politik of confrontation and regime change this Administration and its unlikely coalition of allies keep spreading across the MENA region.