THERE CONTINUES to be trouble for Susan Rice as article after article appears revealing why so many, including myself, aren’t enamored with the possibility of her taking over at the State Department.
A recent story by Helene Cooper in the New York Times stripped bear Susan Rice’s close working relationship to Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, which includes her consultancy with Intellibridge. Rice has been seen as the lynch pin in efforts to shield the Rwanda government, particularly Kagame, from international censure, which Cooper also reports. M23 referred to below is the rebel group.
Two months ago, at a meeting with her French and British counterparts at the French Mission to the United Nations, according to a Western diplomat with knowledge of the meeting, Ms. Rice objected strongly to a call by the French envoy, Gerard Araud, for explicitly “naming and shaming” Mr. Kagame and the Rwandan government for its support of M23, and to his proposal to consider sanctions to pressure Rwanda to abandon the rebel group.
“Listen Gerard,” she said, according to the diplomat. “This is the D.R.C. If it weren’t the M23 doing this, it would be some other group.” The exchange was reported in Foreign Policy magazine last week.
A few weeks later, Ms. Rice again stepped in to protect Mr. Kagame. After delaying for weeks the publication of a United Nations report denouncing Rwanda’s support for the M23 and opposing any direct references to Rwanda in United Nations statements and resolutions on the crisis, Ms. Rice intervened to water down a Security Council resolution that strongly condemned the M23 for widespread rape, summary executions and recruitment of child soldiers. The resolution expressed “deep concern” about external actors supporting the M23. But Ms. Rice prevailed in preventing the resolution from explicitly naming Rwanda when it was passed on Nov. 20.
An op-ed in the New York Times eviscerates Susan Rice for her willingness to look the other way where other African despots are concerned, including Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Michael Hirsh provides more back-up to these stories, which prove there are many concerns over Rice becoming secretary of state, none of which have anything to do with her Benghazi statements that led to Senators McCain and Graham’s swiftboating of her.
The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove unloads on Rice today, unpacking one of the worst kept secrets in Washington about Rice’s perceived abrasiveness in her dealings, which isn’t just euphemistic sexist phraseology where Ambassador Rice is concerned:
The working assumption among some well-connected members of Washington’s foreign policy community is that, in the end, Obama will nominate John Kerry, the easily-confirmable chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, for State; pick Rice to replace Tom Donilon as his national security adviser, a post that doesn’t require Senate confirmation; and move Donilon over to the State Department as Secretary Kerry’s chief of staff–the same job he did for Clinton-era Secretary Warren Christopher. “This town is kind of crazy,” says a White House aide. “There is something going on in which these stories are feeding one another and sensing blood in the water and piling on, one after the other.”
After George W. Bush, President Obama restored the U.N. ambassadorship to a cabinet level position, where it had been during the Clinton years. The reaction was not all positive.
… insuring intense bureaucratic rivalry between the U.S. Mission in New York and the State Department in Washington, where various career foreign service officers view the prospect of Rice’s takeover with suspicion. “It’s the hallway conversation,” says a longtime State Department staffer. “It’s like, Jesus Christ, woe unto us all if this happens!” [Daily Beast]
John Kerry will likely make climate change an issue whether he’s at the State Department or the Pentagon, with his name in the running for both top spots.
It leads me to ponder that President Obama, who is notorious for ducking confrontation, may surprise everyone and go with former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel at State to avoid having to make a decision that is roiling Washington circles.