Even by the rather warlike standards of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, she's a hawk. The fact that Susan Rice will not be the next Secretary of State should give us some reason for hope, if no real relief from festering worry about the role of the United States in the ugly, contagious religious wars that are spreading in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Humanitarian intervention has gone badly wrong in Libya and Syria. The hoped-for bloodless regime change has proven another terrible vanity of liberal internationalists, like nation building in IndoChina did four decades ago. U.S. involvement in conflicts in MENA have marred the first Obama term, and now threaten even greater carnage and another major American war in the Persian Gulf.
As much as anyone in this Administration, except perhaps Hillary Clinton, Rice is intimately associated with the wars of the last decade, going back to Iraq, she has been a cheer leader for U.S. military intervention. I was surprised to see how few on DailyKos were really aware of how far to the right her views on the Middle East really are. But, here's a reminder:
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http://www.dailykos.com/...Susan Rice Was Not Scapegoated Over Benghazi
Susan Rice Vocally Supported the Iraq War, and Every Mid-East War Since
[Nov. 28] After weeks of dog whistles and GOP bullshit, the truth about Susan Rice is finally emerging. It may not be what those Democrats who have circled their wagons around her may expect or want in the next US Secretary of State:
Susan Rice was a cheerleader for Bush’s invasion of Iraq (11/02, 12/02, 02/03)
Assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration, Rice has been a prominent foreign policy spokesperson for the Obama campaign. Here are some of her claims shortly before the invasion of Iraq:“I think he has proved that Iraq has these weapons and is hiding them, and I don’t think many informed people doubted that.” (NPR, Feb. 6, 2003)Susan Rice advocated the US stay in Iraq “for many years to come” (04/03)
“We need to be ready for the possibility that the attack against the U.S. could come in some form against the homeland, not necessarily on the battlefield against our forces. And I think there, too, is an area where the American people need to be better prepared by our leadership. … It’s clear that Iraq poses a major threat. It’s clear that its weapons of mass destruction need to be dealt with forcefully, and that’s the path we’re on. I think the question becomes whether we can keep the diplomatic balls in the air and not drop any, even as we move forward, as we must, on the military side.” (NPR, Dec. 20, 2002)
“I think the United States government has been clear since the first Bush administration about the threat that Iraq and Saddam Hussein poses. The United States policy has been regime change for many, many years, going well back into the Clinton administration. So it’s a question of timing and tactics. … We do not necessarily need a further Council resolution before we can enforce this and previous resolutions. (NPR, Nov. 11, 2002)[/blockquote]
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Questions have been raised about why Susan Rice rather than Hillary Clinton, or a Deputy, came forward as the principal Administration spokesperson following the Benghazi attack. Indeed, Clinton has also avoided comment on Rice's withdrawal, just as she avoids making firm statements about many things lately, except for her certainty that Iran must be confronted, as she expressed last night in her interview with Barbara Walter. (See her comment at 3:30-4:30, the rest is about Hillary's hair):
Was Susan Rice scapegoated over the Benghazi incident? Remember, that Rice, the UN Ambassador, was put forward as spokesman on Benghazi because the State Dept had embargoed comments by Department spokespersons. That embargo came about because of concerns already raised about inconsistencies in statements being made by various people at Foggy Bottom. and the already audible stirring of Congressional protests to David Petraeus' very misleading initial briefing given to Congressional leaders shortly after the attack.
I'm sure Rice volunteered to serve at the point. She was deeply invested in the Libyan regime change, so she felt determined to shape the public perceptions of the attack in order to defend the policy. That decision, however foreseeably, blew back on her.
There's more to the Benghazi "intelligence catastophe," as the NYT headlined it, than is being alleged publicly by John McCain, et al. That's why Hillary has been staying away from any and all personal contact. Everyone knows in DC what Benghazi and the spreading MENA conflict is political and career poison, it's like VX nerve gas. Don't let it touch you. Look what's already happened to David Petraeus, a cluster of generals, and now Susan Rice.
Taking a larger view, the Benghazi catastrophe has more to do with the failure to quickly restabilize both Libya and Syria, and the flow of manpads, arms and Jihadis out of Benghazi than the tragic fact that Amb. Stevens and three CIA contractors were killed by al-Qaeda. There appear to have been were some high-level (mis)representations made in the White House early 2011 akin to Tenet's "slam dunk" claims about selling the Iraq War to the UN and finding Saddam’s WMD. These things tend to end some promising careers.
Outcomes in Libya and Syria, and indeed in the region, are far worse than any of those pushing regime change predicted, and we're on the verge of a regional Sunni-Shi'ia civil war with all sorts of blowback potential.
No, there's something much worse going on that the death of four Americans and some misleading statements by Rice five days later. Obama's very hawkish, neocon-influenced foreign policy team has been shown to be very, very wrong about outcomes of regime change across a very, very dangerous region.
The GOP don't know what to do with this because they're also supporters of the same "all roads lead to Tehran" regime change operation that's gone very, very bad.
I may be naive, but I thought Obama offered some hope for change and a new policy in the Mideast.
Early on in the Administration, John Kerry became Obama's personal emissary for back-channels diplomacy with Syria and was reportedly making significant progress when suddenly, in January last year, the Syrian opposition in exile declared a rebellion. The same thing happened almost simultaneously in Libya, and events in the two countries tracked each other closely leading up to the outbreak of armed insurrection and civil war.
On March 8, the first of a series of deadly confrontations between the Syrian regime and armed demonstrators broke out in Daraa. Snipers killed 16 policemen and a Sunni mob exiting Friday prayers attacked and burned the Ba'ath Party headquarters in that city. Within a week tanks were in the street, and the rest is history.
These early triggering events involving snipers and armed attacks on government buildings were largely overlooked by al Jazeera and the rest of the Gulf Arab media which were covering events live. Most of the western media got its reports of massacres of unarmed protestors, not what actually happened in Daraa to trigger the civil war, directly from the opposition spokesmen in London and Paris, and broadcast it unfiltered and unconfirmed. Diplomacy ended.
The big winner in Syria and Libya is the most radical Sunni Jihadis sponsored by Saudis who were rewarded with huge amounts of Gulf Arab money along with arms shipments coordinated by the CIA, the British, and the French intelligence agencies to bring down the Syrian regime. It looks like militarily, they may finally after tens of thousands of casualties succeed, but the US and its western allies will then have to deal with a much larger, better armed Salaafist military movement than the one that emerged from similar covert operations against the Soviets and Serbs in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Serbia. That, by the way, also happened under a Democratic Administration under many of the same leadership and top intelligence officers running this operation. The potential for blowback from the Sunni-Shi'ia wars as the present conflict grows and spreads regionally makes 9/11 seem almost insignificant by comparison.
If we're really lucky, it may be that some of the smarter people in Washington, including this President, have come to finally recognize the terrible risks and may be changing course and getting rid of some of the principal regime changers.