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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:

As Muammar Gaddafi's troops closed in on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi on March 15, President Barack Obama put the fate of the city's 1 million residents in the hands of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. At a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) that afternoon, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, leery of another war in the Middle East, told Obama a U.N.-proposed no-fly zone would not stop Gaddafi from taking the town. Rice, participating via video teleconference from New York City, said she could get a tougher resolution allowing broader intervention — including the ability to attack armor and ground troops — that would do the trick.

Obama gave Rice the go-ahead . . .

Rice then delivered by a narrow margin a UN Security Council resolution supporting NATO airstrikes. Until events in Syria surpassed it, with as many as 10,000 killed during the Libyan civil war and NATO bombings, the “humanitarian intervention” in Libya has been the single most bloody conflict initiated during the Obama era. In terms of use of open military force by this Administration, Libya is exceeded only by the twin “surges” in Iraq and Afghanistan engineered and commanded by Gen. Petraeus.

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.

- MORE -

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. . .

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.

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.

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:

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:

"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:
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.”
“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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sometimes a racist is just a racist. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OnlyWords, Thousandwatts, Karl Rover

    Sorry, I don't buy this argument. Yes, given her history Rice doesn't sound like my pick for SoS. But McCain and the other Repukes are just going for the "block Obama by any means" attack with her. And that has as much to do with racism as anything. Thus even without the comments about "not being very bright" there is racism at the heart of the Repuke resistance to Susan Rice.

    To me progress is not so much a goal as it is a process and I believe it will not follow a straight course. Remember, the drops of water that form the river may not take the shortest path but they will still reach the ocean.

    by ontheleftcoast on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 01:51:17 PM PST

    •  Sometimes, even something so stupid as racism (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      can serve several simultaneous purposes.  Each of the Three Amigos, for all their apparent challenges, has been around long enough to know how such statements will play out politically.  

      The broader point is that Dr. Rice has not been a voice for diplomacy in MENA.  The prospect of her appointment as Sec of State should be widely alarming, but for some reason the response has been muted.  I think this pretty much captures why.

      •  Really? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Each of the Three Amigos, for all their apparent challenges, has been around long enough to know how such statements will play out politically.
        In 2010 they watched as a racist fueled Teahadist movement took over the House. Hell, John McCain went all anti-immigrant just to hold on to his seat. He knows the value of playing to the racists as much as anyone in the Republican party.

        I think you're reading way too much into their motives. You can fight Occam's Razor all you want, but don't blame me when you get cuts and gouges from doing so.

        To me progress is not so much a goal as it is a process and I believe it will not follow a straight course. Remember, the drops of water that form the river may not take the shortest path but they will still reach the ocean.

        by ontheleftcoast on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 02:18:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Susan Rice and John McCain are natural allies on (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          escalating US military action in MENA.  I can understand, however, why they don't passionately embrace in public.

          After all, they both seem to endorse the notion that the road to Iran goes through Iraq, Libya and Damascus.  That is, after all, the way that these things seem to be leading.  I could find nothing to indicate otherwise.

          Frankly, that scares me more than just a little.

          •  But look at what John McCain did with regards (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            to Libya. You'd think he'd be all over bombing Gadhafi to smithereens yet he attacked the President on his actions repeatedly. Not for more bombing, but calling the actions illegal. He's always taking a stance against the President. Mostly, I think, because McCain is still bitter he lost the 2008 election. It's far easier for me to see how John is a bitter, resentful, racist rather than some part of a scheme to smear Rice to further some backroom deal.

            The Republicans hate the fact that the US actions in Libya helped achieve the goal of removing Gadhafi from power. Hell, I'm not happy with it, we throw our military hardware around far too much. But that's not what upsets the Republicans, they took a stand against the President on Libya and it backfired on them. Then they hoped that Benghazi would erupt into an October Surprise that would cost Obama the election. It didn't. But one thing Republicans don't do is give up. They'll tilt at the windmill of Libya until they get something out of it. And if they can block Susan Rice from the SoS role they'll declare victory on the whole thing and move on to the next distraction.

            To me progress is not so much a goal as it is a process and I believe it will not follow a straight course. Remember, the drops of water that form the river may not take the shortest path but they will still reach the ocean.

            by ontheleftcoast on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 02:39:12 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  McCain was all buddy-buddy with Gadhafi (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              for a while after Gadhafi took the DC deal in 2002.

              In late May 2002, then Undersecretary of State Richard Armitage revealed in an interview in Murdoch's Times of London that AQ Khan had for two decades been peddling used Pakistani centrifuges to half the Muslim world, including Libya, Iraq, and Iran.  

              With the details provided by Gadhaffi, that  presented the Bush team with multiple opportunities for Cassus Belli, particularly against Iraq.  Why Iraq, instead of Iran?  For a while there, in mid-2002, there seemed to have been some debate about that, but in the end Iraq was chosen, probably because it seemed the easier target.

              The necons in Washington didn't much care about contrary intelligence that Iraq had effectively destroyed its AQ Khan-provided nuclear program after the First Gulf War, and steamrollered over the voices within CIA who tried to point that out.   That's the background to the Plame Affair.  Please, see,  

              Until the Bush team departed, Libya was a State Department approved business and rendition destination.  McCain went there himself (I recall in 2007) and had a ho-down at Muammar's "ranch."  But, beware of American emissaries bearing gifts and offering assurances.  That was a mistake that Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein also made.  

  •  It's partisan politics pure and simple. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    leveymg, cassandracarolina

    You don't need racism or sexism to explain this.

    McCain and his cronies have already succeeded in framing the discussion about Ambassador Rice so that President Obama is damned if he nominates her and damned if he doesn't. The diary raises valid points that might even make some Democrats reasonably oppose her appointment, but it's going to be all but impossible to have a rational discussion now that McCain has poisoned the waters.

  •  As I said elsewhere, it seemed the remarks made, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the omissions and inclusions, just weren't that big of a deal; also we don't tell the enemy everything we know when we make announcements etc.
    Not good strategy to give the enemy accolades or rallying points- that's commonly accepted.

    Then I saw a picture of Ms Rice and it all made sense.

    Sad as it is to say, and of course, they deny it, the gist of the comments and the tone of the battle show their true

    Occupy- Your Mind. - No better friend, no worse enemy. -8.75, -6.21<> Bring the Troops Home Yesterday

    by Thousandwatts on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 02:08:31 PM PST

  •  I think that the (0+ / 0-)

    Original campaign to create the Benghazi scandal didn't work out as expected, so not being willing to let a perfectly good tragedy go to waste, the republicans pivoted to Susan Rice, simply because she was there. I have found it is not possible for me to over estimate the lengths  people will go to, for some political edge. It doesn't matter how lacking in logic their arguments are, they just keep flogging away hoping for blood. For whatever reason John McCain looks to have bet whatever notoriety he believes he still has... as the mavericky Senator ...on the now beaten to death Benghazi horse. So sad to go out this way.

  •  Very Homerian of McCain et all (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Hmmm McCain figures...

    ............we want her interventionist style...

    ............they hate me, stoopit knee jerk gay hippies...

    ............there fore I will oppose her 'Get Off My Lawn' style......
        This is certain to get her to be SoS !!!

     It makes as much sense as anything he else he does!

    I like it Mark, very clever.

    And very wacky.

    Oh wait...that means we should attack her!




    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 12:02:40 AM PST

    •  It goes back to Petraeus' briefing to Congress (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      in which the General (er, Director) skipped over a few details, smudged some other things, particularly the facts about looted Libyan MANPADs and suicide bombers from Benghazi in the pipeline to Damascus.

      I think John McCain and some of the others who were sworn-in were faced with a dilemma.  How to protest the apparent omissions and deceptions given out to their GOP colleagues at the CIA briefing about Benghazi, while not giving away the classified part of the story, a policy of multiple regime change involving Saudi supported al-Qaeda fighters (again) which they had bought into (again).

      At the same time, the White House and CIA had a policy of covert operations that involved Libyan terrorists and arms going into Syria to defend, and a major blowback to explain.  So they tried to minimize the situation by seizing on the outrage about the ridiculous film about Mohamed, and sent Susan Rice out five days after the attack to spread that line.

      So the Republicans attacked the target of opportunity - Rice.  They harped and they harped on Susan Rice's apparent boners about the attack being "uncoordinated' and how well liked the US is Eastern Libya.

      Meanwhile, a few retired spooks came out and basically revealed the clandestine role of the Benghazi mission -- how the "consulate' was really a cover for the pipeline of heavy arms and Jihadi fighters to Syria, and that the attack was intimately related to some breakdown among the parties involved in that.  The problem was, the only media that was willing to explore that angle was all Rightwing and Murdoch.  

      So, as hurricane Sandy and the Presidential election took the front pages, the Benghazi story became an abused orphan, raped by partisan politicians, and left abandoned by the roadside in Limbo.

      In the end, the partisan excesses and dog whistles simply helped obscure Susan Rice's own role in the policy that blewback on September 11.  

      •  Very surprised the reeps didn't make that a (0+ / 0-)

        campaign issue as the al q fighters were part of an army of 5000 mercenaries hired by The West reported on by the Guardian...and one didn't need a seekrit clearance to get it either. Notable was that some mercs recognized others as being among those who recently kidnapped them in Afghanistan.

        Don't mean to sound flip about McCain, this diary is a very interesting look and thanks for it. I haven't a clue what he's up to except headlines snuffling.

        This machine kills Fascists.

        by KenBee on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 10:19:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The GOP didn't make an issue as it's their policy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          to pursue serial regime change in MENA, as it is indeed the neocons and hawks in both parties.  More broadly, it's an international thing.  Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran are all a bipartisan campaign of like-minded foreign policy elites in DC, London, and Paris to reestablish western control over the Middle East.

          Some of these elites style themselves as progressives, and some are even self-labeled socialists.  Neocolonialism is filled with nooks and crannies.

          The Republicans, the British and the French similarly didn't make trouble for Clinton and the CIA when they and Prince al-Turki used bin Laden against the Russians and the Serbs to grab the trans-Caucasus oil fields.  That too was done in the name of humanitarian intervention, but the GOP recognized it for what it is, and wink-wink-nudge-nudge, after some interesting Congressional hearings, it all got swept under the rug.

          Then 9/11 happened on their watch, and the GOP embraced blowback, as it nudged America hard to the Right and created a two-term wartime President with a Republican near-dictatorship.  Why should the Repugs object?

          Using Jihadis and terrorism to grab territory, loot resources, and carry out ethnic cleansing is a bipartisan policy.  McCain is running cover for it, now.  He's a good soldier.  

          •  well, there's that of course:> (0+ / 0-)

            sure, and well explained and concise....but really, 'Obama working with the  Al q fighters...what kind of 'Islamic rule in America 'is that going to look like spewed all over the usual media...we would be left explaining it as you did...not good no matter how rationalized it may be....and since they really didn't have anything else: Fox/Murdoch and the usual RW spewers...nothing.

            Amazing really.

            All the best Mark, thanks.

            This machine kills Fascists.

            by KenBee on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:45:09 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

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