Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Dec 12, 2012 in Featured, International, Politics | 17 comments

John Kerry, Not Susan Rice, for Top Diplomat

WASHINGTON – This should be an easy choice for liberals. Not only does Senator John Kerry have a deep resume on foreign affairs, but we’ve seen his ability to change and grow through learning the hard way. His ability to take on the military industrial complex and the Pentagon is one of his stronger assets. Of course, my reasons for believing he’s a better choice is because I’ve had the pleasure of working with him through the Patriot Project, as well as interviewing him for over an hour in a serious conversation that revealed much about his mind and character. I remain convinced there is no better choice to succeed Clinton than John Kerry, even understanding that the odds of this happening remain slim, though the tide against Rice has begun to rise recently.

The problem with making Susan Rice secretary of state isn’t Benghazi. It’s war. Rice, like her “mentor,” former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, and the current secretary, Hillary Clinton, has supported just about every proposed U.S. military intervention over the two decades. The president should nominate someone that occasionally opposes a war. […] Rice is just a notably successful exemplar of a foreign policy community where supporting war is generally better for one’s career than opposing it. – The Real Problem with a Secretary of State Susan Rice, by Benjamin H. Friedman

Amid the speculation of who would take over after Clinton, a long came the swiftboating of Susan Rice.

Against the McCain-Graham attacks against Amb. Rice that amounted to swiftboating, something I fought against through Kerry’s Patriot Project long ago, the very real questions about her militaristic resume were obliterated by the organic reaction I had to come to the aid of a woman who was clearly being treated unfairly by the GOP boys club. What resulted is a defensive swarm by Democratic women for Amb. Rice that actually had very little to do with what her resume says to us all about her. President Obama’s clear partiality to her and strong offense against the attacks solidified my initial response.

Right before I went on holiday, Rice took to the United Nations floor to condemn the Palestinian vote by the UNGA for recognition, even if it was nonbinding observer status. The hyperbolic militancy of her words reminded me of why, on substance, I’ve never been a fan of her international politics, which I made clear during the run up to Obama’s decision to bomb Libya, something I was against from the start.

Some believe her involvement during the Rwandan genocide of the ’90s should disqualify her. I’m not of that group, because there was plenty of blame to go around, beginning with President Clinton; Rwanda something that has haunted him since, to his own admission, as well it should.

Republicans are also very wrong when they say Rice is not qualified. This is absolutely false.

I’ve not weighed in since her statement against the Palestinian vote, choosing to mull the situation and the other things about her career during a break that allowed me to clear my head of all distractions. Letting the internal dust settle after her clear swiftboating by Republicans, as well as establishment media types like Maureen Dowd, but also Dana Milbank, what rose to the top for me was clear.

John Kerry would be a much better choice for secretary of state than Susan Rice, which includes his stance on climate change, where Rice is incredibly vulnerable due to her economic conflicts of interest. There have been innumerable and substantive reporting recently outlining policies Rice has supported, particularly in Africa, which raise real questions about her as well.

Bill Kristol cut through my biggest issue several weeks ago when he said Rice should be confirmed, citing issues with John Kerry, which boil down to Kerry not supporting enough wars.

I think Susan Rice has been a little more interventionist than John Kerry. John Kerry is a guy who loved the Assad regime in Syria. John Kerry has been against our intervening in every war that we’ve intervened in – the First Gulf War, in Iraq he was for it before he was against it – I actually think Susan Rice might go along with Juan [Williams] and say, ‘You know what, that light footprint thing, it’s not working out so well.’

The sad truth is that in the U.S. career foreign policy establishment there are no diplomatic candidates that an elite politician as president could appoint that wouldn’t fall in line with more wars over more diplomacy. Kerry fits into this category as well, though he has stuck his neck out for prosecuting terrorism as a law enforcement issue versus the “war on terror,” even in the midst of “support” for the Assad regime. However, his statement amid Mubarak’s fall was one of real courage as the Obama administration scrambled to find its voice.

Susan Rice has the same problem as most women in the the national security establishment. Her views cater to the same interventionist militarism as all the females in seats of power, proving that to be associated with the boys club you have to think like them, too.

It’s why I began my book The Hillary Effect with the chapter “What If?,” which takes on Clinton’s mistakes on Iraq, to name one issue, while ending the book with her decision to push the Libyan invasion and become instrumental in Arab League talks, as well as her siding initially with Mubarak, among other issues. The continued support I have for Secretary Clinton, including a run for president in 2016, revolves around her ability to win and become the first female commander in chief, which is more important than our differences. But that’s a subject for another year.

I still fully expect President Obama to nominate Susan Rice, who I believe would be confirmed and against whom I will not work to defeat, even with Senator McCain on the SFRC.

Segue to Glenn Greenwald, whose piece helped push me to write the conclusions I came to since Thanksgiving, mulled over during our holiday, which I felt was time to air for all to read.

Virtually all of this debate has concerned Rice’s statements on a series of Sunday news shows in September, during which she claimed that the Benghazi attack was primarily motivated by spontaneous anger over an anti-Islam film rather than an coordinated attack by a terrorist group. Everyone now acknowledges that (consistent with the standard pattern of this administration’s behavior) Rice’s statements were inaccurate, but in a majestic display of intellectual dexterity, progressive pundits claim with a straight face that public officials should be excused when they make false statements based on what the CIA tells them to say, while conservatives claim with a straight face that relying on flawed and manipulated intelligence reports is no excuse.

[…] Last week, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern extensively documented Rice’s long record of cheering for US wars, including being an outspoken and aggressive advocate of the attack on Iraq, support that persisted for many years. In a New York Times Op-Ed yesterday, Eritrean-American journalist Salem Solomon condemned Rice’s fondness for tyrants in Africa, while Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford argued – with ample documentation – that her supporters “care not a whit for Africa, whose rape and depopulation has been the focus of Rice’s incredibly destructive career.” A New York Times news article from Monday separately suggests that Rice’s close ties to the ruling regime in Rwanda – that government “was her client when she worked at Intellibridge, a strategic analysis firm in Washington” – has led Washington to tacitly endorse its support for brutal rebels in the Congo.

Meanwhile, so-called “pro-Israel” groups have vocally supported her possible nomination due to her steadfast defense of Israel at the UN, hailing her as “an ardent defender of major Israeli positions in an unfriendly forum.”

At this point, President Obama could throw a hail Mary, choosing Republican former Senator Chuck Hagel, who is respected and also being considered down the list, but this would rightly bring on an explosion from Democratic partisans.

Senator John Kerry’s the natural fit here and would sail through the confirmation process without a hitch. Gov. Deval Patrick could then appoint himself or even Barney Frank to the Senate. The caterwauling about losing the Senate seat is overwrought.

Taylor Marsh, is a veteran political analyst, a former Huffington Post contributor, Broadway babe and talk radio dabbler, and is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media magazine covers national politics, women, foreign policy, and the politics of sex.