Considering the Benghazi limelight on United Nations (UN) Ambassador Rice it is stunning to read the following statement in her letter to President Obama, “I am proud of the many U.S. successes at the United Nations, including the protection of civilians from Libya to Cote D’Ivoire…” Besides the letter being unnecessary regarding her request that she no longer be considered for the position of Secretary of State (it’s not like she submitted an application), it seems the letter inadvertently conflicts with President Obama’s statement that Ambassador Rice, “…made an appearance at the request of the White House…[she] had nothing to do with Benghazi.” If she had nothing to do with Benghazi, to include any working knowledge of the situation in Libya, then why did the White House bother to send her out as a spokesperson? Why not a State Department, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or a true White House representative? If she had nothing to do with Benghazi then why does she list the protection of civilians in Libya as a U.S. success at the United Nations? If her appearance on the Sunday morning news shows had nothing to do with a potential Secretary of State appointment, then why this letter?
At the US UN website her biography states, “Under Ambassador Rice’s leadership, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations has helped win…support for life-saving interventions in Libya and Cote D’Ivoire…” What life-saving intervention? She’s allowed to lead an intervention in the comfort and warmth of an office in the United States, but the boots on the ground personnel are told to, “Stand down.”? So, is she a leader in the intervention in Libya or a White House spokesperson who had no clue what was going on in Libya?
In 1994, Rice was the Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping. “…she had what she calls her ‘most searing experience’ when she visited Rwanda during what was later classified as a genocide. ‘I saw hundreds, if not thousands, of decomposing corpses outside and inside a church,’ she says.” She was there. She saw the bodies. Yet she supported the Clinton administration’s seemingly denial of the gruesome genocide right down to them not even publicly using the word until almost two months had past. Shhh…can’t use the G-word because of the implication, just like the Obama administration’s reluctance to use the T-word to describe what happened on September 11, 2012. Another eerie deja vu is how the CIA provided briefings about Rwanda, just as it did about Benghazi- and each Administration buried the reports. Was she a leader in the intervention in Rwanda or a National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson who had no clue about the genocide in Rwanda?
From 1997 – 2001, Rice was the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. In August 1998 the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by terrorists. In a PBS interview when asked about the terrorist attack, Rice stated, “At this stage, Elizabeth, we have to say that that’s a law enforcement matter for investigation. We will look forward to the evidence and the forensics giving us clear word on that.” Was she a leader in tracking down the terrorists or a State Department spokesperson who had no clue? This ‘investigation’ reply rings familiar.
In 1999, the Lomé Peace Accord was signed in July. The front man, Foday Sankoh, of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) was made Vice-President of Sierra Leone and put in charge of the country’s diamond trade. The RUF is infamously known for their boy soldiers, blood diamonds, and brutal tactics. “The RUF burned down houses with their occupants still inside, hacked off limbs, gouged out eyes with knives, raped children, and gunned down scores of people in the street. In three weeks, the RUF killed some 6,000 people, mostly civilians.” By May 2000 is was apparent the agreement had failed as the RUF took 500 United Nations peacekeepers hostage. Was Rice a leader in bringing peace to Sierra Leone or a State Department spokesperson who had no clue of RUF’s crimes against humanity and the subsequent incomprehensible exoneration of those crimes?
The list goes on…Ethiopia…Eritrea…the Congo…now Libya.
On September 16, 2012, on one of those Sunday morning shows, “…she told guest host Jake Tapper: ‘Well, Jake, first of all, it’s important to know that there’s an FBI investigation that has begun and will take some time to be completed.’” A la Kenya and Tanzania terrorist attack reply. It’s under investigation. She had her 15 minutes of fame that fateful Sunday. Her legacy will either be she knew and chose not to tell what she knew or she didn’t know and what was the point of sending her out to be a parrot? Ambassador Rice’s professional ambition to be Secretary of State has been duly challenged. Her impact will be remembered as a blip on the Benghazi radar. She meant well. What do you do when your boss asks you to run interference? She actually did a very good job of delivering the intended message. This is the thanks she gets?
Yes, Ambassador Rice is educated. A Rhodes Scholar, in fact. Yes, she is accomplished. She is the first black female US ambassador to the UN*. Yes, she has extensive experience in the diplomatic field, but wholesale, that experience is deeply disturbing and that is the reason Ambassador Rice is having trouble. Not because she’s black and not because she’s female. The aforementioned list of her experience in African foreign policy is performance-based, nothing about race or sex was mentioned. Yet, people like Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, still make unfounded accusations of racism and sexism. No matter the color. No matter the sex. The person who stands alone on such a record is destined to fall.
Finally, Ambassador Rice further states in her letter, “…I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly…” No. It would be abbreviated, direct and embarrassing. Had it not been for Libya Ambassador Rice had a realistic chance of succeeding Secretary Clinton; however, because of how she handled Libya, coupled with her previous failures, she wouldn’t make it past the confirmation. This letter saves face, but it doesn’t erase her record.
*Appointed in 1977 by President Carter, Andrew Young was the first black US ambassador to the UN. He was asked to resign in 1979 by the President.
By: Cynthia Shaffer