White House Shakeup: Susan Rice to National Security Advisor, Samantha Power to UN Ambassador

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Common Dreams

White House Shakeup: Susan Rice to National Security Advisor, Samantha Power to UN Ambassador

Both "humanitarian interventionists"

by
Common Dreams staff

Susan Rice and Samantha Power

In a foreign policy shakeup at the White House today, President Obama is set to name UN Ambassador Susan Rice as his new National Security Advisor. Rice will replace Tom Donilon, who is resigning. Rice was reportedly going to be nominated Secretary of State but withdrew when Senate Republicans refused to confirm her because of her role in the Benghazi events of last year.

Obama will name Samantha Power to replace Rice as the US Ambassador to the United Nations.

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"The terrorism of the suicide bomber and the terrorism of aerial bombardment are indeed morally equivalent. To say otherwise (as either side might) is to give one moral superiority over the other, and thus serve to perpetuate the horrors of our time."
- Howard Zinn
Here are some progressive voices who have written about both Rice and Power in the past:

This past April, Chris Hedges wrote a piece titled "The Hijacking of Human Rights":

Obama's "...new wave of “humanitarian interventionists,” such as Samantha Power, Michael Ignatieff and Susan Rice, who naively see in the U.S. military a vehicle to create a better world. They know little of the reality of war or the actual inner workings of empire. They harbor a childish belief in the innate goodness and ultimate beneficence of American power. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents, the horrendous suffering and violent terror inflicted in the name of their utopian goals in Iraq and Afghanistan, barely register on their moral calculus. This makes them at once oblivious and dangerous. “Innocence is a kind of insanity,” Graham Greene wrote in his novel “The Quiet American,” and those who destroy to build are “impregnably armored by … good intentions and … ignorance.”

 

 

 

 

Glenn Greenwald wrote last December 12th:

...What is remarkable is how so many Democrats are devoting so much energy to defending a possible Susan Rice nomination as Secretary of State without even pretending to care about her record and her beliefs. It's not even part of the discussion. And now that some writers have begun examining that record, it's not hard to see the reason for this omission.

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." It was recently discovered that Rice "holds significant investments in more than a dozen Canadian oil companies and banks that would stand to benefit from expansion of the North American tar sands industry and construction of the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline," and that "about a third of Rice's personal net worth is tied up in oil producers, pipeline operators, and related energy industries north of the 49th parallel -- including companies with poor environmental and safety records on both U.S. and Canadian soil."

This is who progressives are devoting their energy to defending and the record they are attempting to further empower as Secretary of State. She's essentially the classic pro-war, imperial technocrat who has advanced within the Foreign Policy Community by embracing and justifying its destructive orthodoxies.

Margaret Kimberly  of Black Agenda Report wrote on December 13, 2012:

...The yearning to see a black face in one of the highest and most rarified places is a very deep one and not to be easily dismissed, but it is crucial to note that Rice is no different from John McCain in her beliefs of how the United States should conduct itself in the world. The facts against Rice and her predecessors are obscured by a corporate media which hides all the atrocities committed by the United States government, making the Rice story appear like nothing more than that of a high achieving black woman being slandered by evil racists.

The case against Rice or whomever is nominated by the president should be a case made against United States foreign policy and all of the people who now or ever were in charge of carrying it out. The presidents, secretaries of state, United Nations ambassadors, national security advisers and their ilk are held up as paragons of virtue, intelligence and moral rectitude. They emerge from elite institutions and are held up as the “best and the brightest” the country has to offer.

Ray McGovern wrote on December 4th, 2012:

...Rice’s biggest disqualification is the fact that she has shown little willingness to challenge the frequently wrongheaded conventional wisdom of Official Washington, including on the critical question of invading Iraq in 2003. At that pivotal moment, Rice essentially went with the flow, rather than standing up for the principles of international law or exposing the pro-war deceptions.

In fall 2002, as President George W. Bush and his administration were pounding the drums for war, Rice wasn’t exactly a profile in courage. A senior fellow at the centrist Brookings Institution, she echoed the neoconservative demands for “regime change” in Iraq and doubted the “need [for] a further [U.N. Security] Council resolution before we can enforce this and previous resolutions” on Iraq, according a compilation of her Iraq War comments compiled by the Institute for Public Accuracy.

In an NPR interview on Dec. 20, 2002, Rice joined the bellicose chorus, declaring: “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.”

Rice also was wowed by Secretary of State Colin Powell’s deceptive speech to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003. The next day, again on NPR, Rice said, “I think he has proved that Iraq has these weapons and is hiding them, and I don’t think many informed people doubted that.”

The late Howard Zinn wrote this letter to the Editor of the New York Times on August 19, 2007:

To the Editor:

Samantha Power has done extraordinary work in chronicling the genocides of our time, and in exposing how the Western powers were complicit by their inaction.

However, in her review of four books on terrorism, especially Talal Asad’s “On Suicide Bombing” (July 29), she claims a moral distinction between “inadvertent” killing of civilians in bombings and “deliberate” targeting of civilians in suicide attacks. Her position is not only illogical, but (against her intention, I believe) makes it easier to justify such bombings.

She believes that “there is a moral difference between setting out to destroy as many civilians as possible and killing civilians unintentionally and reluctantly in pursuit of a military objective.” Of course, there’s a difference, but is there a “moral” difference? That is, can you say one action is more reprehensible than the other?

In countless news briefings, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, responding to reporters’ questions about civilian deaths in bombing, would say those deaths were “unintentional” or “inadvertent” or “accidental,” as if that disposed of the problem. In the Vietnam War, the massive deaths of civilians by bombing were justified in the same way by Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Richard Nixon and various generals.

These words are misleading because they assume an action is either “deliberate” or “unintentional.” There is something in between, for which the word is “inevitable.” If you engage in an action, like aerial bombing, in which you cannot possibly distinguish between combatants and civilians (as a former Air Force bombardier, I will attest to that), the deaths of civilians are inevitable, even if not “intentional.” Does that difference exonerate you morally?

The terrorism of the suicide bomber and the terrorism of aerial bombardment are indeed morally equivalent. To say otherwise (as either side might) is to give one moral superiority over the other, and thus serve to perpetuate the horrors of our time.

Howard Zinn

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