Top Menu

John Kerry is a Better Choice for State Than Susan Rice

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

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, though the odds of this happening remain slim.

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.

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 today pushed 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.”

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

20 Responses to John Kerry is a Better Choice for State Than Susan Rice

  1. Joyce Arnold December 11, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    Adding, the environmental activist commuities have opposed her from the beginning, because of her financial ties with the petroleum industries in Canada.

    • Taylor Marsh December 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

      Yes, important point, Joyce. Absolutely and thanks for adding (link to your piece on the subject added).

  2. secularhumanizinevoluter December 11, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    It’s a shame really…Kerry would be best but if he is tapped it removes a Senate seat from the Dem side. But frankly I would just love to see president Obama cram her down the repug/bagger’s throats.

    • Senorita Bonita December 11, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

      Kerry’s appointment would most likely allow Scott right back into the Senate. Should that occur one of the best results would be for Gov Patrick to appoint Barney Frank.

  3. DaGoat December 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    Rice has become a Democratic cause/narrative and she will probably be nominated for SecState. Obama will look weak if he doesn’t.

    On the Mass. senate seat, I’d love to see Scott Brown back in. He’s a moderate (though many will argue he isn’t), something there aren’t enough of in politics. I am glad Elizabeth Warren is now in a position to provide oversight of Wall Street excesses, and if Brown is able to join her in the Senate I see that as a win-win.

    • angels81 December 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

      You are right, a lot of us will argue that Scott Brown was no moderate. Brown was a tea party favorite who talked a good line in Mass, but when you look at his voting record he was far from being a moderate. The senate has enough fakes in office all ready, we don’t need another liar back in.

    • secularhumanizinevoluter December 11, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

      1.”Rice has become a Democratic cause/narrative and she will probably be nominated for SecState. Obama will look weak if he doesn’t.”

      Well I don’y know that I would necessarily say he would appear weak but yeah I can see your point.

      2.”On the Mass. senate seat, I’d love to see Scott Brown back in. He’s a moderate (though many will argue he isn’t), something there aren’t enough of in politics. ”

      WOOOOO! Just tipped off the continental shelf of sanity there!!! A “moderate”?!!!! Do you live in one of those states that legalized Pot?

      2.”I am glad Elizabeth Warren is now in a position to provide oversight of Wall Street excesses, and if Brown is able to join her in the Senate I see that as a win-win”

      Well, that was only HALF crazy.

  4. pritesh December 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    I predict Obama will pick Samantha Power to be the next Secretary of State.

    • Pilgrim December 12, 2012 at 9:10 am #

      yikes

  5. spincitysd December 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    Hamlet Obama will eventually nominate Rice after the usual hemming and hawing. The Republicans have forced his hand and nominating anyone other than Rice would be seen as a climb-down. Now, if I were the president I would sweet-talk Bill Clinton to being the SoS nominee and cram that bit of political jujitsu right down the Republicans throat.

    • Pilgrim December 12, 2012 at 9:11 am #

      better idea

  6. Cujo359 December 11, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    he 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.

    Well, yes, other than the thousands of former Foreign Service officers and thousands of former military officers whose careers included a lot of work with foreign militaries and the like. Surely, there are at least a few politically-savvy people among them.

    Way back in 2008 I could already see the rough outlines of what Obama’s foreign policy was likely to be, thanks to who he listened to on the issues. Continuation of the “War on Terrorism” and rampant interventionism were likely goals, and most folks with a few functioning brain cells to call their own figured that out when they looked. Susan Rice was one of the reasons.

    Leaders don’t appoint advisers who are likely to disagree with them. They don’t want to waste time listening to pitches and having discussions about things they’ve already decided. People who are likely to oppose a leader’s decisions are better off being part of the opposition. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in itself. When a smart leader realizes he’s been setting the wrong agenda, he can change, and find different advisers.

    What makes that tendency a bad thing these days in America is that DC is full of people who are always willing to praise the leaders of their party no matter what. People dissenting on matters of fact or principle are rarely part of the conversation, and even when they are can be dismissed as either cranks or partisans. After all, how can you not be either a crank or a partisan and not recognize the wonder that is [Bush|Obama]? In an environment like this, I have to believe that leaders are even less likely to recognize their own failures and make adjustments.

    To me, that’s the problem that Susan Rice represents. I don’t like her conflicts of interest, but just about anyone who is chosen from the inner circle of DC is likely to have at least a couple. It would be just lovely if people were chosen for cabinet positions based on their knowledge of the area and willingness to speak out when they think the President is wrong, but that ain’t happening.

    But, like one of those excuses for why the economy isn’t jumping up and succeeding, it’s not because there aren’t qualified people out there. It’s because DC doesn’t want to pay for them.

  7. Lake Lady December 11, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    I always think Susan Rice sounds aggressive and overly blunt whenever she speaks…does not seem very diplomatic to me.It has also seemed to me that HRC is very luke warm in any of her defenses of her.

    I have questioned many of the people the President surrounds himself with from ecomonic advisors to individuals like Rice. There are so many brilliant deeply knowageable people that never get consideration.

    Sometime for fun we should do a thread that is a thought experiment and design a dream cabinet.

    I will start with Paul Krugmann for head economic advisor. The spot that the three time loser Larry Summers had.

  8. TPAZ December 12, 2012 at 4:32 am #

    “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.”

    You do realize that her boss (Obama) is a war monger? America has killed more people in more countries during this administration than any other since World War II. And now, the US has established a permanent base in Australia to expand its “influence” in Indonesia.

  9. angels81 December 12, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    America has killed more people in more countries during this administration then any other since World War II.

    Wow! what a bunch of BS. Do you just make up facts to fit your theory? We know you are no fan of Obama, but making up BS and expecting us to buy some absurd theory of yours and presenting it as fact is even beneath you. Please show us the links and data to back up your statement if you can, which I doubt you will be able to do.

    • TPAZ December 12, 2012 at 10:05 am #

      “America has killed more people in more countries during this administration then any other since World War II.”

      America has killed people in more countries during this administration then any other since World War II.

      There, corrected. my kingdom for an edit option on this site.

  10. Pilgrim December 12, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    I appreciate the column. While I consider myself a feminist, I do deplore the tendency of some to champion a woman mainly because she is a woman.

    I don’t appreciate Susan Rice’s anti-palestinian attitudes. I don’t appreciate her massive financial stake in TransCanada pipeline. I don’t appreciate her nasty way of talking.

    I agree Kerry much the better candidate. He has that demeanour that comports well with the job. He has much else as well.

    • Taylor Marsh December 12, 2012 at 10:19 am #

      Heya Pilgrim, thanks for weighing in. Important point re: championing a woman because of gender alone.

      Just put another piece up on Rice, as the water continues to rise against her…

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong