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Thu Dec 13, 2012, 08:52 PM

Why Susan Rice’s withdrawal may be reason for some hope.

Last edited Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:31 PM - Edit history (2)

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 DU were really aware of how far to the right her views on the Middle East really are. But, here's a reminder:
Susan Rice Vocally Supported the Iraq War, and Every Mid-East War Since

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)

“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)

Susan Rice advocated the US stay in Iraq “for many years to come” (04/03)

- MORE -

Susan Rice Was Not Scapegoated Over Benghazi

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 Kosovo. 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.


Also available in orange: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/12/13/1169662/-Why-Susan-Rice-s-Withdrawal-Offers-Some-Reason-for-Hope?showAll=yes

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Response to leveymg (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:04 PM

1. K, so anyone who stopped & thought about the fact that there was a security breech in Libya

has to have been wondering HOW PO gets what he needs to know out of these situations, especially with the CIA under quarantine because of a few things, not the least of which is Benghazi.

In thinking about the time lapse between the Rice peri-nomination/suggestion and her decision to step out of this, I was just wondering how PO gets what he needs to know, under circumstances like this, and how long that takes.


Thanks for an awesome post, btw. Sharing.

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Response to leveymg (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:18 PM

2. I wonder if

William Jefferson Clinton is available for and interim appointment for about two years?

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Response to donco (Reply #2)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 11:38 PM

10. SoS is one of the toughest jobs in Washington and only a few people could do it well.

I don't see how Hillary could run for President while working that job.

Kerry would do the job well. It is not enough to be a clever diplomat and politician.

If you could find a very exceptional younger person that could do the job well it would be a better choice in the long run. I can't think of anyone.

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Response to leveymg (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:19 PM

3. It was surprising that people did not know what a Hawk Rice is. She has been a disaster eg

for Africa, another part of her career that has received little attention.

What is surprising is that the Republicans don't love her, as she is a strong advocate of their foreign policies as evidenced in her support for Bush's wars.

I agree that this is good news. Your analysis of Syria and Libya is excellent. Two more countries on the PNAC list with Iran as the biggest prize.

Behind all this are the old Bush neocons. A few months ago, wondering whatever happened to Ledeen & Co I googled his name and found him blogging enthusiastically about the invasion of Libya and Syria. He just wanted it 'faster please'.

Anyone who remembers the history of these warmongers and all the ties they had in countries like Italy and France and elsewhere, shouldn't be surprised that they are still pushing that agenda, to 'turn the ME into a sheet of glass and then rebuild it'. The total failure of the effort clearly hasn't deterred them at all.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #3)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:34 PM

8. "The total failure of the effort clearly hasn't deterred them at all" a sentence well worth

remembering constantly.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #3)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:50 PM

9. Like she's a businesswoman or CIA or both, which is convenient and saves time.

From Pambazuka:

The US Ambassador to the UN has coddled, pampered, nurtured and protected the ruthless dictators of Eastern Africa, shielding them from legal and political accountability.

There was a time, once, when the US wanted peace, independence and democracy for the people of Africa. As a Democrat myself, I'd like to move toward those goals. I appreciate infinitely that you do, too, Sabrina1.

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Response to Octafish (Reply #9)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 01:00 AM

11. That's what I was talking about, Octafish, regarding Rice and Africa. Thank you for that link.

The US Ambassador to the UN has coddled, pampered, nurtured and protected the ruthless dictators of Eastern Africa, shielding them from legal and political accountability.

She was quite well known for being a hawk during the Bush years, and for her disgraceful protection of African Dictators. I never understood why she was even a Democrat. I do not know anything about her positions on Domestic policies, I've only been aware of her on Foreign policy and it's always been hard to distinguish between her and the Bush warmongers on those issues.

Thank you so much for still being here Octafish, you are one of the few reasons I still bother

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Response to leveymg (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:21 PM

4. DURec

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Response to leveymg (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:32 PM

5. she was not perfect

Had baggage for liberals - and Kerry getting the post would free up a chance for Repukes to get his seat.

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Response to leveymg (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:58 PM

6. Liberal internationalism - Presidents Obama and Kennedy say it better than I can.

"That’s the message these four patriots sent. That’s the message that each of you sends every day -- civilians, military -- to people in every corner of the world, that America is a friend, and that we care not just about our own country, not just about our own interests, but about theirs; that even as voices of suspicion and mistrust seek to divide countries and cultures from one another, the United States of America will never retreat from the world. We will never stop working for the dignity and freedom that every person deserves, whatever their creed, whatever their faith."


"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” ... “a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.”


And the United Nations' Responsibility to Protect"

The three pillars of the responsibility to protect, as stipulated in the Outcome Document of the 2005 United Nations World Summit (A/RES/60/1, para. 138-140) and formulated in the Secretary-General's 2009 Report (A/63/677) on Implementing the Responsibility to Protect are:

The State carries the primary responsibility for protecting populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, and their incitement;
The international community has a responsibility to encourage and assist States in fulfilling this responsibility;
The international community has a responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other means to protect populations from these crimes. If a State is manifestly failing to protect its populations, the international community must be prepared to take collective action to protect populations, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.


Liberal internationalism is not dead. It may be misapplied at times and is often a messy process. The war on poverty, the protection of civil rights, the provision of health care and other liberal issues may have been mishandled and are 'messy' in real life.

We do not retreat from them because of they are messy or we make mistakes, we adjust our approach and keep trying.

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Response to pampango (Reply #6)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:31 PM

7. ... as long as that doesn't turn into American Exceptionalism & with the US fight against the UN, I

have my doubts about how it is even possible to prevent that.

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