It looks like momentum is building towards Susan Rice being the next Secretary of State-- and a lot of liberal people, particularly in the media, are reacting to opposition by John McCain and LIndsay Graham -- getting behind Rice because she's being attacked by right wingers.
That may not be a good idea. Rice could be simply awful, from a progressive, liberal, anti-war, anti-neocon point of view. She could be an appointment as bad as some of the investment bankers Obama has appointed.
She could be the worst new appointment who's come to light since he won his re-election. It's ironic that the people who are attacking her from the right would be delighted with her if she was a Republican -- she's a lot like John Bolton, except with some international women's rights thrown in. If the Republicans get smart, they'll start recruiting women who look exactly like Susan Rice. But Obama should not be appointing her and people on the left should not be getting her back. They should be raising their voices making it clear to Obama that she is a terrible candidate for secretary of state.
My concern about Rice started with an interview with Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report publisher and radio host. Here's the key excerpt from the interview. Ford had just brought up Rice in the context of her appearances on Meet the Press to discuss the episode in Bengazi:
Rob: Now, you've described Susan Rice as one of the most bellicose, bomb-at-the-drop-of-a-hat, Africa-bashing professional servants of power in Washington. You've said that she is a madwoman demanding blockades and airstrikes against Sudan, invasion of Somalia, embargos on little Eritrea, regime change in Libya. It sounds to me like she, if she was a Republican, people like John McCain and all the Republicans who are going after her, would love her!After processing that conversation for a day I came to the conclusion that Rice is probably as bad in the diplomacy world as the Banksters Obama appointed in the financial world-- Geithner, Summers and the rest of the Robert Rubin acolytes Obama appointed in his first term. But I'm no expert on Rice. So I went to some of the activists and commentators I've come to know and trust who also pay attention to international considerations. i sent out an email asking them their take on Susan Rice, simply citing Glen Ford's take that she's rabid, in the same league as John Bolton.
Glen: And they should! She was making these demands for air strikes and blockades on Sudan back in 2006 when there was a Republican administration. It was, she was at the service of Bush's aggressive foreign policy -- in fact more bellicose than Bush in regard to African issues -- back then. And there is something I didn't mention in that article and I think it's the greatest crime of all. It is Susan Rice who has been blocking at the United Nations, the release of the last two reports from the UN documenting the role of Uganda and Rwanda, who are the United States' two main allies -- military allies -- to the U.S.'s biggest henchmen in Africa. These UN reports document how they are complicit, in fact are the main actors, in the genocide in the Congo that has killed six million people. And if Rwanda and Uganda are the main actors in this genocide that means that the United States is the main actor in the genocide in Congo. And Susan Rice is a major player in covering up that crime.
Rob: So it sounds like she's a Democratic John Bolton, maybe worse.
Glen: I think she's the meanest dog in town. This woman is rabid! She makes Condo Lisa Rice seem like a sweet academic.
Rob: Rabid. Ok. And do you think she's got a shot at getting the appointment to replace Hilary?
Glen: I hope not. Now, of course the US policy does not change based upon who the Secretary of State is. We, at Black Agenda Report, of course dread Susan Rice being the Secretary of State, because that puts one more high profile black American in the position of being the Executioner in Chief of the world, and that's very bad for the good name of African Americans. But whoever they put in charge will just continue the US policy. We certainly don't want that to be in black face.
Rob: Well, I basically think of Clarence Thomas. He's a guy who was handed a lot of power, and he certainly wielded it to serve the 1% and the military industrial conflict.
Glen: Yeah, but Clarence Thomas was of course appointed by Republicans, and that makes him one step removed so to speak. This is a democratic administration with a black president supported whole-heartedly by the vast majority of black people in this country. And so I can't imagine how people in the world will not associate these crimes by Obama and by Rice, Susan Rice, as being the product somehow of the black policy in the United States, and that is profoundly disturbing to contemplate.
David Swanson was the first to respond, saying:
Progressives would be condemning her as a champion of imperialistic wars under the pretense of humanitarianism if they hadn't just been trained for an entire election season to view themselves as spectators and cheerleaders for one half of their government, duty bound to support whatever the Bad Team opposes.Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and the CIA intelligence officer who gave the daily report to presidents for 20+ years, answered:
When President Clinton chose to appoint Susan Rice as Assistant Secretary of State for African Afaiars in 1997, among the strongest opposition was that of the Congressional Black Caucus, who considered Rice to be a member of "Washington's assimilationist black elite." They had that right. She has not been a good person for the oppressed -- black or brown -- and especially not for the Palestinians.Georgianne Neinaber writes regularly on Africa for Opednews.com and Huffingtonpost.com. She responded by talking about Rice's history in Africa. It's terrible. Rice was a part of Bill Clinton's national security team when Rwanda was undergoing a horrible massacre of 800,000 people-- mostly hacked to death by machetes. Neinaber had this to say on Rice:
She had been given senior jobs at the National Security Council from 1993 to 1997, but, like her boss Bill Clinton, refused to call the 1994 killing of 800,000 Ruandans "genocide." Clinton and Rice did almost nothing to help. For services performed, or not, she was promoted to become Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs from 1995 to 1997.
She is among those well connected, privileged few who -- for whatever reason -- let themselves become part of an oppressive system, having forgotten their roots after rising so high above oppressed people that they cannot see them anymore. She belongs to a select small club -- Colin Powell, Eric Holder, and Condoleezza Rice are charter members -- who apparently are often not even aware of how they have let themselves be used by the white establishment.
That's what happened to Susan Rice on the celebrated "Benghazi Affair." The white male folks who should have been speaking about what happened -- Obama counter-terrorism chief John Brennan and then CIA Director David Petraeus -- immediately got out Dodge....to Libya! Did not Rice realize she was being used?
All the focus on what she said, and when, diverts attention from what really was going on at that CIA installation under consulate cover in Benghazi. No Establishment figure or media darling wants to focus on that.
It must be added that, in addition to reverse racism, there remains, of course, racism itself. Do you think Lindsay Graham would be so aggressively critical of Susan Rice, were he not representing the great racist state of South Carolina?
In sum, on her record at State and at the U.N., alone, it is clear that she has herself suffered from application of the Peter Principle. Susan Rice has already shown herself to be far below the required level of competence and -- what is equally important -- of compassion to be considered for the position of secretary of state.
"Oh I could go on and on...never mind her failed tenure in the UN..now one of the world's most despised "peacekeeping" bodies.John Nichols, writer for the The Nation and regular pundit on network news responded to my inquiry,
If the fact that she was behind the invasion of Zaire (Now DR CONGO) by multinational forces in 1996 to overthrow Mobutu and set the stage for the current chaos isn't enough:
Rice lobbied hard and won not to call the Rwandan genocide, "genocide" in 1994 when we had the opportunity to stop the bloodbath by unleashing the UN forces of General Romeo Dallaire who were positioned in Rwanda but had been told to stand down by the UN. She worked in April 1994 (month of the genocide) in the National Security Council under Richard Clarke and was quoted as asking about the consequences of using the word "genocide" on the effects of the coming November congressional elections! See Bystanders to Genocide (Atlantic: 2001)
Like all good politicians, she has since recanted, apologized for saying something inappropriate, or said she can't remember; depending on which interview you read about her.
Progressives elected Obama in 2008 and unleashed his cowardly drones. Let's not make the same mistake again.
Rwanda is my personal litmus test for everything. Find a person who will simply do the right thing. Morality is not that difficult."
"It seems to me that at least some of the enthusiasm for making Susan Rice Secretary of State is rooted in the fact that she is so loudly opposed by John McCain and Lindsey Graham. But there is more than that in play. Ambassador Rice would be a plausible Secretary of State. She is very smart, has a great deal of experience and appears to enjoy the confidence of the president. Those are important measures. But those ought not be the only measures. Ambassador Rice has a long record of supporting US interventionism. And her economic thinking tends toward neo-liberalism, which is the last thing we need in the midst of a global debate about austerity. On both of these issues. I wish we were considering someone like former US Senator Russ Feingold -- who spent 18 years on the Foreign Relations Committee, chaired the Africa Subcommittee with savvy and sensitivity, and has written a remarkably good book on international relations. And it is important to recognize that there are other career diplomats who could be considered, folks like Anne Woods Patterson, the current US Ambassador to Egypt who has had some very demanding assignments under Republican and Democratic presidents, including acting US Ambassador to the United Nations in 2005 and US Ambassador to Pakistan from 2007 to 2010. But my bet is that the front-runners remain the predictable crew: John Kerry, Chuck Hagel and perhaps Nick Burns.Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant Treasury Secretary and columnist for the Wall Street Journal replied,
My impression of Susan Rice is that she is an important operative of the Hidden Agenda, one of the most committed and blood-thirsty of the neoconservatives, and aJustin Raimondo wrote, in an article titled, Susan Rice is Bad News, on antiwar.com,
representative of Israel's right-wing government. She does not and would not represent the interests of the American people.
I think Glen Ford makes an important point about black Americans becoming scapegoats for the crimes of the Obama regime.
the real reason the Senate should reject the Rice nomination, if and when it is announced: she's one of the most militant [pdf] of the New Interventionists who infest the Obama administration's foreign policy shop. With Rice at the helm, the State Department would become an increasingly belligerent mouthpiece for the militant regime-changers who increasingly dominate our foreign policy councils.Shortly after I started working on this article, Michael Collins wrote an article, Susan Rice's Conflict of Interest - Major Holdings in Tar Sands Oil, Keystone XL Pipeline, and Canadian Financiers. So I asked Collins his take on Rice. He replied,
Rice was in the vanguard of the Libya operation, and is credited with pressuring a reluctant President to get involved in an adventure he was sure to regret. As the idioticleft-neocon John Avlon enthused in Newsweek/The Daily Beast:
"The Libyan airstrikes mark the first time in U.S. history that a female-dominated diplomatic team has urged military action.
"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and the influential Office of Multilateral and Human Rights Director Samantha Power to argue for airstrikes against Libya. Their advice triggered an abrupt shift in U.S. policy, overturning more cautious administrations' counselors."
Leave it to the Beasties to frame this in terms of identity politics, but that is precisely the political calculation the Obama administration will be making if Rice is indeed the President's nominee for State: not only is Rice one of the Three Harpies of War who -- in the Madeleine Albright tradition -- agitated for the disastrous Libyan intervention, she's also African-American, a major plus in an administration where identity politics trumps real world qualifications.
As Undersecretary of State for African Affairs during the Clinton administration, Ricetraces her induction into the Humanitarian Interventionist Brigade to the alleged genocide in Rwanda that occurred under Clinton's watch, and credits the administration's failure to act as her come-to-Jesus moment: ""I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required." That it was the US consulate in Benghazi that went down in flames due to the blowback from her policy stance and influence is just one of those little ironies of history no one in Washington wants to talk about.
Mentored by Albright -- whose reputation as an interventionist of the "humanitarian" school was secured by her infamous remark that the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis due to sanctions was "worth it" -- Rice apparently absorbed the Albrightian mindset.
She is an especially fervent advocate of stepping up US intervention in Africa. The dark continent, she avers, is in the midst of its "first world war," and she knows what side she's on. As Ethiopia's late dictator Meles Zenawi slashed and burned his way through Somalia, in 2007, Rice's was the loudest voice in his cheering section. Zenawi, a Marxist revolutionary who seized power in 1991, was a ruthless tyrant who suppressed the opposition, staged phony elections, and became a compliant instrument of Washington. Washington utilized Zenawi when they took up against the Al-Shabab "terrorist" group in Somalia, where Ethiopian troops launched a full-scale invasion which predictably ended in failure. As US military aid poured in, Zenawi launched a campaign of brutal repression against the Oromo and Anuak minorities, decimating their communities, murdering thousands and jailing as many as 25,000.
In spite of Zenawi's record, his death elicited loud cries of mourning from his Western patrons, especially from Rice, who delivered an embarrassingly effusive paean at his funeral: the departed dictator was "wise," she said, as well as a loving family man, and she lauded him as a "friend," calling him by his first name throughout. A more sickening display of obsequious fawning by a US official over a monster in human form has rarely been recorded.
Like Albright, Rice is an abrasive personality: her rhetorical style, suffused with the smug self-righteousness that characterizes the Clinton State Department, was on full display when she went after Russian UN envoy Vitaly Churkin for calling for an investigation into civilian deaths suffered by the Libyans at the hands of their NATO liberators: "Oh, the bombast and bogus claims," she shrieked. "Welcome to December. Is everybody sufficiently distracted from Syria now and the killing that is happening before our very eyes?" She characterized the Russian veto of measures to isolate the Syrian regime as "disgusting."
Churkin was quick to reply, chiding this American Valkyrie for the cold war-ish tone of her remarks:
"We hear that the Obama administration wants to establish a dialogue with the international community in the United Nations, and in the Security Council. If that is to be the case, really this Stanford dictionary of expletives must be replaced by something more Victorian, because certainly this is not the language in which we intend to discuss matters with our partners in the Security Council."
Rice is a Stanford University alumnus, where she graduated, in 1986, with a B. A. in history. She was the recipient of a Truman Scholarship, i.e. a government subsidy, awarded by a federally-supported "foundation" to favored applicants in the field of international studies. Chairperson of the board: Madeleine Albright, who describes the program as "identifying future change agents."
The "change" she will bring -- and has already brought -- to the course of US foreign policy means a qualitative ramping up of the "regime change" campaign begun by the Bush administration and escalated by Obama. The theory of the "responsibility to protect" will rationalize the stepped up tempo of US intervention in the Middle East and Africa , at least to the satisfaction of the liberal elites who will cheer her appointment and revel in her rudeness (especially when it comes to insulting the Russians). And it won't just be Ambassador Churkin who will cringe at her histrionics once she's ensconced in Foggy Bottom.
While more cautious when it comes to Syria, she'll no doubt be in the forefront of the administration's efforts to shape a Syrian opposition group less upfront in its fealty to al-Qaeda. More ominously, she'll be aggressive when it comes to confronting Iran.
Rice has been the White House's point-person in its efforts to sound tough on Tehran, and she is firmly in the back pocket of the Israel lobby -- a "no daylighter" to the max.
President Obama has been backed into a corner by McCain, and if he doesn't choose Rice it will be counted as a scalp on Mad John's belt. Add to this the domestic political advantages of elevating a photogenic African-American female with ties to the Clinton faction of the Democratic party, and you have all the elements of a politically savvy and quite obvious choice. As us libertarian realists like to say: foreign policy is all about domestic politics, and the Rice nomination will mobilize the disparate elements of the Obamaite coalition in a high profile high stakes fight.
Liberals who consider themselves peaceniks will rally around her not least due to the Benghazi bungle and McCain's vendetta, while conservatives will hate her for entirely the wrong reasons. This is at it should be -- in Bizarro World.
Bemoaning McCain's hegemony in the Republican foreign policy field, and mocking his refusal to consider any appointment unless his (rather vague) demands are met, Rachel Maddow launched into one of her fascinating foreign policy speeches the other night. She showed a hilarious video montage of McCain calling for arming various "rebel" groups, from Bosnia to Syria, and asked: can't the GOP do better than the Arizona militarist when it comes to finding a foreign policy spokesman?
I wonder what Maddow and her fans will say when Secretary Rice announces we'rearming the rebels in Syria -- and in whatever African hellhole is on the verge of a sudden "humanitarian crisis"?
Susan Rice is bad news for opponents of our global meddling, bad news for the peace movement, and bad news for the country. Too bad we have to depend on McCain to torpedo her nomination: this means she will almost certainly be confirmed, as Mad John is widely seen as pursuing a personal feud and is increasingly isolated on the Hill. Even the always dependable Joe Lieberman -- who is retiring -- has abandoned him on this matter. That leaves Lindsey Graham as the sole remaining member of the Three Amigos of the War Party. The joke is that McCain and Rice disagree on nothing of substance.
If and when Rice is confirmed, it will mark the beginning of a new era of "humanitarian" intervention-on-steroids. Enlisted service members can look forward to frequent deployments to the jungles of Africa, while the "liberal" punditocracy on the home front can anticipate silencing critics with bombastic and bogus claims of "racism." Chris Matthews will have a ball.
Imagine the following scenario and ask how we would react.The reality is, Obama is a war president. He's used drones to kill over 1500 people many of them civilians. He's kept us at war for four more years and shows no signs of doing anything to reduce the bloated size of the military system that is parasitizing the resources of the US.
Romney wins the election with a 52% to 48% majority. He comes in with a head of steam and says here's my cabinet. His Secretary of State nominee is Richard Bale; on a number of boards, charities, and former CEO of Port Arthur refineries (the name and company are fictional). Before confirmation hearings, we find out that Port Arthur Refineries is the destination point for the Alberta tar sands oil after that tar sands oil is transferred to Port Arthur via the Keystone XL pipeline. As Secretary of State, Bale has the top voice on lifting Obama's ban on the Keystone XL pipeline, a deadly transit mechanism crossing the Ogallala Aquiver in the Midwest and carrying toxic oil headed for China.
How would we react?
What would we say about Romney and his love of The Money Party?
Would we quote James Hansen concerning use of the tar sands oil, fully exploited would mean Game Over for the Climate?
The rice nomination is filled with conflict of interest and reflects poor judgment on the part of Obama and Rice. Furthermore, that they'd ever combine to try to get Rice as the head of state, it reflects a total contempt for any citizen who cares about the environment.
It is clear that Rice will serve Obama well, pleasing and assuaging liberals with nice words and occasional moves that relate to women's rights, while pursuing the exact same kinds of policies Dick Cheney pursued.
Some have said that John McCain and Lindsay Graham are attacking Rice because they want John Kerry to run, which would open up a seat in Massachusetts, so Scott Brown could run, with a decent chance at winning.
But there are many other candidates who could do a much better job. As John Nichols suggests, Russ Feingold would be great. So would Al Gore. Anne Marie Slaughter was Director of Policy Planning for the State Department, under Hillary Clinton, and dean of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Or Obama could go way out of the box and consider someone like Warren Buffett. If Obama wants to appoint a strong, principled Black woman, he might consider Marian Wright Edelman.
Susan Rice doesn't come close to being the best choice for Secretary of State. How's this for an idea? Appoint someone who will reduce the USA's military footprint in the world-- someone who aims to make the US a nation that brings peace, not war-- someone who knows the ways of making growth and success happen, not someone who's been a part of letting 800,000 people killed and who was most concerned about the framing of their genocide.
Crossposted from Opednews.com