Does Rice have a problem from the Left?

posted at 1:51 pm on November 16, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

A number of analysts believe that Barack Obama intends to replace retiring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with UN Ambassador Susan Rice, long a favorite of Obama.  Such a move would be inherently more controversial than another oft-mentioned candidate for the job, Senator John Kerry, who would have sailed through to confirmation among his colleagues.  Appointing Rice would only give Senate Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee a high-profile platform to demand answers from Rice about Benghazi, a topic that the White House should hope to avoid in the new year.

Benghazi may not be the only contentious topic in a confirmation hearing, and it may not just be Republicans who want to ask some tough questions.  National Journal’s Michael Hirsh writes that human-rights activists may demand some answers of their own about Rice’s track record of “dancing with African dictators since the ’90s”:

But there are other issues with Rice’s record, both as U.N. ambassador and earlier as a senior Clinton administration official, that are all but certain to come out at any confirmation hearing, many of them concerning her performance in Africa. Critics say that since her failure to advocate an intervention in the terrible genocide in Rwanda in 1994 — Bill Clinton later said his administration’s unwillingness to act was the worst mistake of his presidency — she has conducted a dubious and naïve policy of looking the other way at allies who commit atrocities, reflecting to some degree the stark and emotionless realpolitik sometimes associated with Obama, who is traveling this week to another formerly isolated dictatorship: Burma.

Most recently, critics say, Rice held up publication of a U.N. report that concluded that the government of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, with whom she has a long and close relationship, was supplying and financing a brutal Congolese rebel force known as the M23 Movement. M23’s leader, Bosco Ntaganda, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for recruiting child soldiers and is accused of committing atrocities. She has even wrangled with Johnnie Carson, the assistant secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, and others in the department, who all have been more critical of the Rwandans, according to some human-rights activists who speak with State’s Africa team frequently.

Rice claimed she wanted Rwanda to get a fair hearing and examine the report first, and her spokesman, Payton Knopf, says that “it’s patently incorrect to say she slowed [it] down.” But Jason Stearns, a Yale scholar who worked for 10 years in the Congo and wrote a book called Dancing in the Glory of Monsters, says “that is not common practice with these reports. Even when Rwanda did get a hearing, all they did was to use it to smear the report and say how wrong it was.” The report has since been published.

It’s not Rwanda that will dog Rice, Hirsh predicts:

Recently, during a meeting at the U.N. mission of France, after the French ambassador told Rice that the U.N. needed to do more to intervene in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rice was said to have replied: “It’s the eastern DRC. If it’s not M23, it’s going to be some other group,” according to an account given by a human-rights worker who spoke with several people in the room. (Rice’s spokesman said he was familiar with the meeting but did not know if she made the comment.)

If true, that rather jaded observation would appear to echo a Rice remark that Howard French, a long-timeNew York Times correspondent in Africa, related in an essay in the New York Review of Books in 2009, which was highly critical of Rice.  In the article, headlined “Kagame’s Secret War in the Congo,” in which French calls the largely ignored conflict “one of the most destructive wars in modern history,” he suggests that Rice either naïvely or callously trusted new African leaders such as Kagame and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda to stop any future genocide, saying, “They know how to deal with that. The only thing we have to do is look the other  way.” Stearns, the author, says that during Rice’s time in the Clinton administration “they were complicit to the extent that they turned a blind eye and took at face value Rwandan assurances that Rwanda was looking only after its own security interests.”

What makes this remarkable is the contrast between this and the foreign policy of the Obama administration toward strategic allies — notably Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak.  While Rice arguably danced with dictators in sub-Saharan Africa even though the US had relatively few security interests in those nations, Barack Obama personally pushed Mubarak to resign from office only eight days after mostly non-violent protests in Cairo.  Mubarak had been a guarantor of peace with Israel and free access through the Suez Canal, a monumentally strategic point for American and NATO power.

Not long after, Obama ordered a war against Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi, one of the region’s more notorious tyrants, but one who had a vested interest in suppressing terrorist networks in Benghazi and eastern Libya and had been fitfully cooperative on other issues, including nuclear proliferation.  That led to a massive expansion of terrorist activity in the region as central control collapsed with the regime, and the sacking of our consulate in Benghazi directly resulted from that intervention.

Perhaps Rice will claim that she was operating from the best data she had on Rwanda, the Congo, and other issues raised by Hirsh.  That was her explanation for fronting a false story about the Benghazi attack days after it became obvious that it was a terrorist attack, which at least would give that defense the virtue of consistency.  Paul Mirengoff argues, though, that if we are to take Rice at her word on that defense, then the Senate would have to consider the wisdom of confirming a nominee for the top diplomatic post in the US government whose best argument is that she’s easily duped:

Should someone who allowed herself to be used in this way by the White House — that is, an ambassador who agreed to provide facts about a matter of enormous importance even though she apparently lacked any knowledge of the matter, and who as a result provided false information — be the U.S. Secretary of State? Not in my opinion. How would the U.S. Senate that confirmed her be able to rely on her reports or, for that matter, her judgment? Having misused the prestige of the U.N. ambassador position to serve the White House spin machine, how could the Senate be confident that she wouldn’t misuse the even greater prestige of the Secretary of State for political purposes?

Moreover, Rice knew or should have discovered other information besides the CIA talking points that pointed to a different conclusion about the attack. The State Department had watched events in Benghazi unfold in real time and thus knew this was no spontaneous demonstration. And President Obama claims he had already characterized the attack as terrorism. Either Obama is lying or Susan Rice ignored the president’s characterization of the Benghazi attack.

Given the conflicting views about the attack, and given how obvious it was that this wasn’t a spontaneous event, Rice had a duty to inquire about the facts, rather than simply relying on talking points prepared by others. If Rice can show that she engaged in a reasonable inquiry and that she reached intelligent conclusions, then Senate Republicans should be receptive to confirming her, in the event she is nominated to be Secretary of State. Otherwise, they should vote against confirming a dupe.

Politically speaking, Obama would be better off sticking with Kerry for the Secretary of State position.


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she’s an easy target… FOR THE LEFT

gatorboy on November 16, 2012 at 1:53 PM

It’s not Rwanda that will dog Rice

Dog rice? Isn’t that a dish Obama eats?

The Rogue Tomato on November 16, 2012 at 1:54 PM

Does Rice have a problem from the Left?

Only if Nancy Pelosi declares her NOT the San Francisco Treat.

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on November 16, 2012 at 1:56 PM

Incompetencepalooza…

hillsoftx on November 16, 2012 at 1:57 PM

Dog rice? Isn’t that a dish Obama eats?

The Rogue Tomato on November 16, 2012 at 1:54 PM

With fava beans and a nice Chianti… o_O

SWalker on November 16, 2012 at 1:57 PM

Plus, maybe the Secretary of State shouldn’t be a dupe

As Hillary proved . . . or maybe that just proves they would nominate Rice . . .

PastorJon on November 16, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Well there are already lots of d gals in dc that are using the ‘race’ and ‘sexist’ thing for the negative news about rice! Those two seem to work their charm to get everything done to get people what they want?
L

letget on November 16, 2012 at 1:59 PM

she’s just dreamy……

And she’s a twofer. Unless she’s a lesbian then she’s a threefer.

Therefore she cannot be questioned.

PappyD61 on November 16, 2012 at 1:59 PM

The film 2016 (now at Netflix) attempts to explain our current foreign policy.

IlikedAUH2O on November 16, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Criticizing Susan Rice is both racist and sexist.

Then narrative has been set and the King will proceed with another one of his “I won” remarks.

JPeterman on November 16, 2012 at 2:01 PM

Pfft. “A” problem? “From the left”?

Rice has more problems than my college algebra textbook.

MelonCollie on November 16, 2012 at 2:02 PM

if we are to take Rice at her word on that defense, then the Senate would have to consider the wisdom of confirming a nominee for the top diplomatic post in the US government whose best argument is that she’s easily duped:

Which is the best argument for this entire regime.

rbj on November 16, 2012 at 2:04 PM

I hope Obama is stupid (oh, wait) and actually tries to push her through. It would give me great satisfaction to see her grilled in public on these issues, and have the President’s sterling reputation destroyed.

Not that his sycophants will give a sh*t. But what the hell. Anytime we can take this administration down a notch is fine by me.

Politics of Destruction? You betcha. They made their bed. It’s time for them to suffocate in it.

nukemhill on November 16, 2012 at 2:04 PM

Some left wing (white) fancy boy was just on FOX News claiming that all of the GOP attacks against 0bama admin. operatives are racially motivated.

He asked, “Van Jones, Eric Holder, Susan Rice…. what do all these people have in common?”

The implication was that it’s because they are all black. Of course he conveniently ignored the fact that they are all communists.

UltimateBob on November 16, 2012 at 2:05 PM

Can anyone that intellectually incurious be considered for the very demanding role of Sec of State? What she did would imply that she has no personal opinions that need to be answered nor does she have any doubt about anything that is fed her. This is not the place for a shallow non-probing mind. She also has a quick temper that is probably sparked by her lack of deep understanding of the subjects that she is queried on. She should work go to work for Valerie Jarret and learn how to lie on the grand scale and then she would be fit for higher office.

inspectorudy on November 16, 2012 at 2:06 PM

What do you mean, “problem from the left”? Does her left nostril extends larger when her nose grows?

Archivarix on November 16, 2012 at 2:07 PM

How dare you besmirch her good name…you got a problem with Dear Leader!

d1carter on November 16, 2012 at 2:07 PM

Why, this analysis is purely sexist and smacks of racism. /

scalleywag on November 16, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Perhaps Rice will claim that she was operating from the best data she had on Rwanda, the Congo, and other issues raised by Hirsh.

So she has a history of working with bad information?

kim roy on November 16, 2012 at 2:10 PM

People like Rice and little Bammie have no problem with dictatorships as long as the dictators are black socialists. They have no love for democracy.

slickwillie2001 on November 16, 2012 at 2:11 PM

Can anyone that intellectually incurious be considered for the very demanding role of Sec of State? What she did would imply that she has no personal opinions that need to be answered nor does she have any doubt about anything that is fed her. This is not the place for a shallow non-probing mind. She also has a quick temper that is probably sparked by her lack of deep understanding of the subjects that she is queried on. She should work go to work for Valerie Jarret and learn how to lie on the grand scale and then she would be fit for higher office.

inspectorudy on November 16, 2012 at 2:06 PM

Exactly, she’s a talking points robot, more suited for a spokeperson position than one that requires some critical thinking abilities of your own…

jimver on November 16, 2012 at 2:11 PM

Perhaps Rice will claim that she was operating from the best data she had on Rwanda, the Congo, and other issues raised by Hirsh.

So she has a history of working with bad information?

kim roy on November 16, 2012 at 2:10 PM

:)

jimver on November 16, 2012 at 2:12 PM

After watching Hillary serve, I’ve come to the conclusion that the position of SOS just isn’t as demanding as it’s cracked up to be. I can think of no real accomplishments she’s made during her term. Challenges, sure, but no real accomplishments. Mostly I think it’s travel and hobnob and hobnob and travel with an occasional report or other duty here and there, which I’m sure she delegates. She hasn’t shown any leadership qualities either, so it puzzles me why people keep mentioning her for the 2016 run.

scalleywag on November 16, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Matthews drops the racist bomb in 5…4…

scalleywag on November 16, 2012 at 2:17 PM

Resist We Much on November 16, 2012 at 2:14 PM

One of the three witches of Libya…LOL. Great catch!

d1carter on November 16, 2012 at 2:18 PM

O/T, this is just on Drudge about jill and her twin sister.

http://dailycaller.com/2012/11/16/woman-in-petraeus-scandal-visited-white-house/
L

letget on November 16, 2012 at 2:19 PM

Obama can’t play the race and sexist cards if he nominates Kerry.

OxyCon on November 16, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Obama can’t play the race and sexist cards if he nominates Kerry.

OxyCon on November 16, 2012 at 2:20 PM

They could always play the Herman Munster card.

UltimateBob on November 16, 2012 at 2:23 PM

The American people deserve to get everything they’ve voted for.

claudius on November 16, 2012 at 2:23 PM

letget on November 16, 2012 at 2:19 PM

The sisters also crashed a Marco Rubio fundraiser and didn’t even pay.

JPeterman on November 16, 2012 at 2:24 PM

If O does nominate her the Republicans need to get a Ted Kennedy type and trash her hard in the confirmation hearings and not let up.

docflash on November 16, 2012 at 2:36 PM

If the choice is between Kerry and Rice, I’d pick Kerry. :(

Lawrence on November 16, 2012 at 2:41 PM

The sisters also crashed a Marco Rubio fundraiser and didn’t even pay.

JPeterman on November 16, 2012 at 2:24 PM

What’s with the poses? Those women always have their heads turned to the side as if they have been coached to pose this way for photos.

Anyway, that’s not the only odd thing about them.

Cody1991 on November 16, 2012 at 2:41 PM

She looks angry, therefore, she must be smart.
I’m all for her to be whatever Obama wants.

LIB.

justltl on November 16, 2012 at 2:41 PM

What’s with the poses? Those women always have their heads turned to the side as if they have been coached to pose this way for photos.

Cody1991 on November 16, 2012 at 2:41 PM

Bad plastic surgery? If they have any more, they’re both going to be wearing goatee’s.

JPeterman on November 16, 2012 at 2:46 PM

If the choice is between Kerry and Rice, I’d pick Kerry. :(

Lawrence on November 16, 2012 at 2:41 PM

If he was named he’d have to give up his MA Senate seat, and there is a very good chance that Scott Brown could win the special election resulting. So that probably isn’t gonna happen.

Del Dolemonte on November 16, 2012 at 2:47 PM

She looks angry, therefore, she must be smart.
I’m all for her to be whatever Obama wants.

LIB.

justltl on November 16, 2012 at 2:41 PM

She looks shtrong and proud, not angry

Ditkaca on November 16, 2012 at 2:57 PM

Ya know, I keep seeing references to her being ‘african american’ – really? never would’ve guessed.

Midas on November 16, 2012 at 3:05 PM

I hope Obama is stupid (oh, wait) and actually tries to push her through. It would give me great satisfaction to see her grilled in public on these issues, and have the President’s sterling reputation destroyed.

nukemhill on November 16, 2012 at 2:04 PM

besides CSPAN, how does anyone find out about Rice’s problems????? LSM will not pick it up! no-one will know!

Dr. Demento on November 16, 2012 at 3:07 PM

Can anyone that intellectually incurious be considered for the very demanding role of Sec of State?

inspectorudy on November 16, 2012 at 2:06 PM

“How high?” doesn’t count?

Barnestormer on November 16, 2012 at 3:12 PM

Ya know, I keep seeing references to her being ‘african american’ – really? never would’ve guessed.

Midas on November 16, 2012 at 3:05 PM

I’ve wondered if she is black or white, because in some pictures she looks mottled.

slickwillie2001 on November 16, 2012 at 3:20 PM

the dems will rally around her…doesn’t matter what she has done…

pathetic

cmsinaz on November 16, 2012 at 3:49 PM

“Appointing Rice would only give Senate Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee a high-profile platform to demand answers from Rice about Benghazi, a topic that the White House should hope to avoid in the new year.”

Why should the White House hope to avoid this in the new year? What do they have to lose and who is going to call them on it anyway? The republicans are too timid and are running scared to death of this administration. We are now under the rule of Chicago thug politics and there isn’t anything whatsoever that we can do about it now.

You, America, voted for this now sit down and shut up. You had your chance and you blew it.

Certif on November 16, 2012 at 3:58 PM

From The Obama Timeline:

“…[D]uring the Clinton administration Susan Rice worked with Richard Clark to persuade Clinton not to accept Sudan’s offer to hand over Osama bin Laden to the United States. Former Clinton staffer Mansoor Ijaz stated that efforts to capture or kill Osama bin Laden were “overruled every single time by the State Department, by Susan Rice and her cronies, who were Hell-bent on destroying the Sudan.” Rice and Clark also authored the controversial Presidential Decision Directive 25, which some argue was incredibly naïve and led to the 1993 Somalia fiasco—the “Blackhawk Down” incident—in which American troops were killed and dragged through the streets by an angry mob. Clinton’s non-response to that incident allegedly led Osama bin Laden and others to believe terrorist attacks would weaken the resolve of the American people and allow greater progress by the radical Islamists. Rice has been considered “wildly incompetent” by some Washington insiders, and one critic who has worked with her states, “She doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. And she doesn’t tolerate dissenters. To have her head the U.S. mission to the U.N. is a mind-boggling decision. It is frightening.” The anti-Semite Rice, wife of ABC news producer Ian Cameron, also encouraged Clinton to do nothing to stop the Rwanda genocide.

Colony14 on November 16, 2012 at 5:55 PM

Paul Mirengoff argues, though, that if we are to take Rice at her word on that defense, then the Senate would have to consider the wisdom of confirming a nominee for the top diplomatic post in the US government whose best argument is that she’s easily duped:

My argument all along. Susan Rice went on those Sunday talk shows not just with some talking points. The woman argued for those talking points, refused to back down from those talking points, added dept to the talking points. She just couldn’t be that dumb. She had to know she was lying through her teeth.

We knew better and we weren’t even briefed or allowed a chance to ask those in the “know” questions. The first suspicion should have come when SHE was asked to do what Panetta or Clinton should have been doing.

katablog.com on November 16, 2012 at 6:13 PM