Most reporters haven’t been following Ambassador Susan Rice’s performance at the United Nations since her appointment in January 2009. To many journalists, Rice’s misleading interviews on the five Sunday Shows the weekend after the 9/11/12 terrorist attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were one of the first times they had heard from her. To veteran foreign policy observers, Rice’s shameful performance that Sunday was one of many blunders over the last four years.
Rice’s refusal to answer questions about why she blamed the Benghazi violence on a YouTube video was met Wednesday with a feisty defense from President Obama saying don’t blame Rice because the White House sent her out to do the Sunday shows. The “stop picking on Susan” retort from the president looked like a big brother defending his little sister on the playground. It was an odd moment for a woman wanting to be America’s top diplomat.
Obama’s spirited warnings to Republicans to leave Rice alone appeared to be a sign that the White House is shielding Rice from answering further questions about her performance.
The case against Susan Rice has been building for years with little fanfare. Not surprising, the mainstream media reporters based at the UN have either ignored her mistakes or strategically covered them up.
The Washington Post’s UN reporter Colum Lynch even wrote a glowing profile of Rice on September 23 – a week after her Sunday shows debacle – where he didn’t mention the Libya controversy until the 13th paragraph (a Washington Post staffer told me that editors had to add language about the Libya controversy to the piece).
Rice’s diplomatic failures and silence in the face of outrageous UN antics have given the United States pathetic representation among the 193 members of the world body. UN members, not surprisingly, prefer a weak opponent. Rice is therefore popular with her colleagues. It may explain why she ignored Syria’s growing problems for months.
Speaking out and challenging the status quo is seldom cheered at the UN. Her slow and timid response left the United States at the mercy of Russia and China, who ultimately vetoed a watered down resolution an unprecedented three times.
Ironically, Rice was very critical of the US’s performance at the UN under President George W. Bush and vowed to build better relationships with every country. In her current stump speech Rice claims with a straight face that her goal has been accomplished, “We’ve repaired frayed relations with countries around the world. We’ve ended needless American isolation on a wide range of issues. And as a consequence, we've gotten strong cooperation on things that matter most to our national security interest.”
Rice has been consistently silent on other important issues and ineffective when she does engage. She skipped Security Council meetings when Israel needed defending and even failed to show up for the emergency session on the Gaza Flotilla incident.
Rice didn’t even show up for the first two emergency Security Council meetings on the unfolding Arab Spring revolution last year. Rice stayed silent when Iran was elected to the U.N. women’s committee, she didn’t call out Libya when it was elected to the Human Rights Council, she was absent from the Haiti crisis meeting and was a no-show for the last open meeting scheduled before the planned UN vote to recognize Palestinian statehood. When she actually does show up, she is a miserable failure.
Take the crucial issue of Iran. Rice spent the last several years undermining and grumbling about the Bush administration’s increasingly tough measures but has only been able to pass one resolution of her own – compared with the Bush team’s five.
Rice’s one and only Iran resolution was almost 30 months ago. And it passed with just 12 votes of support – the least support we have ever seen for a Security Council sanctions resolution on Iran. In fact, Rice lost more support with her one resolution than the previous five Iran resolutions combined. She may claim she has repaired relationships with other countries but the evidence shows she’s gotten less support than the team she ridicules.
Whether the issue is Sudan, Egypt, North Korea, Israel or Rwanda, Rice has been either missing in action or unable to deliver a quick and effective resolution.
The Rice record at the UN speaks for itself. Anyone looking objectively at what she has or hasn’t accomplished during her tenure will deduce she has failed to convince UN members to support US priority issues. Nominating Susan Rice for Secretary of State is a mistake not just because of her Sunday show deceptions but because her tenure as America’s representative to the UN has been unworthy of a promotion.