The Misguided Tenure of Susan Rice
Making sure America always comes last at the UN.
President Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, has long been an advocate for weakening American sovereignty in order to benefit the UN and its anti-American agenda. It is a policy known as “engagement,” where the United States subsumes its own vital interests, abandons its traditional role of leadership in the world community, and, as Anne Bayefsky writes, pushes the process of “subcontracting American national security” to the UN.
Time Magazine refers to this policy – without a hint of irony – as “leading from the back.” And while Washington was busy this past week exchanging blows over the budget deficit, Rice was testifying on Capitol Hill, imparting her vision of what the US’s role in the world should be and her belief in the vital importance of the United Nations to our national security. This includes an open hostility to the state of Israel, a dangerous reliance on the UN to keep Iran from going nuclear, as well as the world body’s inexplicable granting Tehran membership on the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women.
Rice’s past tells us all we need to know about why she embraces these views. Rice got her start in politics as a foreign policy advisor to the campaign of Michael Dukakis in 1988. She worked for several years in the Clinton administration on the National Security Council in various capacities, including senior director for African Affairs. After a short stint in the private sector as a consultant, she gravitated to the Brookings Institution where the issues of global poverty and transnational threats to American security occupied her time. Given this background, it’s not surprising that she is considered Afro-centrist and a fierce proponent of African nationalism.
While one expects a UN ambassador to be an advocate for internationalism, Rice slipped the bounds of reason and waxed poetic in her testimony about the importance of the United Nations to our national security. Lobbying members to appropriate monies that we owe to the world body, Rice claimed that “when we meet our financial obligations to the U.N., we make Americans safer,” and “the U.N. promotes universal values Americans hold dear.”
One doesn’t need to be a Brookings Institute Fellow to know that statement is nonsense. It is beyond rhetorical excess and enters the sublime milieu of self-delusion. Unless she believes that America “holds dear” values like racism, anti-Semitism, corruption, sexism, child rape, and a host of other execrable hallmarks of United Nations actions and policies, then she is either naive or willfully blind to the true nature of the UN.
Ann Bayefsky wrote of Rice’s testimony that it “offers the most detailed defense yet of the central foreign-policy plank of the Obama administration, known as ‘engagement.’” Basically, the Obama doctrine has “outfitted American interests with U.N.-made cement shoes.”
This is especially true regarding US policy toward Israel at the UN. In one of the most extraordinary statements ever made by an American official about Israel, Rice bitterly complained last February about having to veto a Security Council resolution condemning Israel and its settlement policy. She deliberately undercut the impact of the veto by saying, “For more than four decades, [Israeli settlement activity] has undermined security … corroded hopes for peace and security … it violates international commitments and threatens prospects for peace.” During her testimony last week, Rice reiterated that sentiment, adding “Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate.”
What angered Rice was that the Security Council vote was 14-1, with countries like Great Britain, France, and Russia co-sponsoring the Palestinian-inspired condemnation. To Rice’s and the administration’s way of thinking, going against international “consensus” – even if inimical to US interests – was a blow to their strategy of “engagement.”
Rice’s statements before the committee on the UN’s massively hypocritical selections for the Human Rights Council can only be termed bizarre. The HRC features such stellar advocates for human rights as Angola, China, Cuba, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Saudi Arabia – a rogue’s gallery of thuggish states. After acknowledging that it is difficult to find nations that have good human rights records to serve on the council, Rice seemed proud of the fact that US opposition had kept Iran off the HRC. She chalked that “success” up to the fact that the United States had agreed to join the HRC rather than refuse to participate in such a farce.
What Rice didn’t mention was that in order to get Iran to withdraw its application for membership on the HRC, Washington agreed not to raise a stink when the fundamentalist Islamic Republic that mandates stoning women for adultery wanted to join the Commission on the Status of Women. With no objection from the US, Iran was duly elected to the commission.
Instead of Iran joining the HRC, Libya got the slot. How this can be termed a “success” takes pretzel-like logic – something Rice appears to excel at.
Consider her take on the UN’s efforts to prevent Tehran from getting a nuclear weapon. She testified that “the U.N. helps halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons” and that “strong and sustained U.N. action” against states that defy proliferation restrictions means that those countries will face “significant consequences.”
The United Nations has never halted the proliferation of nuclear weapons, as North Korea, Pakistan, South Africa, India, Israel, China, and soon Iran can all attest. The UN’s milquetoast sanctions against Iran have only spurred the mullahs to greater efforts in their quest for the bomb while North Korea moved easily into the nuclear club with UN cameras recording the whole thing. It beggars belief that Rice could try and make a case for United Nations effectiveness in this area, but for internationalists, the effort and intent is what is celebrated, not results.
Rice’s thinking on terrorism has also heavily influenced administration policy. In 1996, she advised President Clinton not to accept Sudan’s offer to turn over Osama Bin Laden because Sudan’s human rights record was so wretched, she thought we shouldn’t have anything to do with them.
Her steadfast belief that poverty, not radical Islamist ideology, is responsible for terrorism has upended 20 years of American anti-terrorism policy. Rice is the inspiration behind the Obama administration’s de-emphasizing military action against terrorists, while looking for ways to address the “root causes” of the violence. She co-authored an academic article in 2005 that postulated that terrorism was “a threat borne of both oppression and deprivation.” This is a fantastical notion when one considers that there are many poor countries in the world such as Bangladesh and Niger that produce few, if any, suicide bombers while the relatively wealthy nation of Saudi Arabia is a hot bed of extremism.
It is Rice’s solution to what she considers the “real” causes of terrorism that is of great concern. She supports the transfer of nearly $100 billion every year to UN’s Millennium Development Project for redistribution to poorer nations and their kleptocrat leaders. How this will address the problem of “poverty” in poor countries never seems to get explained. The history of aid to these nations is that the elites end up with most of it while precious little trickles down to the masses. Rice ignores this history – and the reality that America doesn’t have $100 billion for such a cockamamie scheme.
Finally, Rice’s support for “humanitarian intervention” in Libya has been well documented, but what isn’t generally known is her advocacy for unilateral American action in cases where the UN fails to act. Along with Samantha Power, the president’s national security advisor, Rice is responsible for pushing through the Security Council a strong resolution authorizing military force against Gaddafi.
But when it comes to Darfur and other potential hot spots where the UN refuses to act, Rice has advocated that America go it alone to prevent a humanitarian disaster. Scarred by her experience in the Clinton administration, which stood by while 800,000 people were slaughtered in Rwanda, she reportedly told Power “I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.” She has also suggested that the US should contribute a percentage of its military to a UN force, under UN command, to intervene where humanitarian crises threaten disaster.
This goes far beyond what most would advocate for when it comes to the Responsibility to Protect doctrine. But it is one more indication that Susan Rice casually sets aside the interests of her own country in order to cater to the whims and capricious agenda of a world body that has proven itself an enemy of the United States.