On November 14, President Obama vigorously defended U.N. ambassador Susan Rice during a press conference in the White House's Rose Garden, perhaps signaling that he was unworried by the possibility of a drawn-out battle with Republicans looking to block Rice's possible nomination as secretary of state. Rice, who has been criticized for her promoting a now-disproven explanation for the deadly attack on an American diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, apparently has the full support of the president that could nominate her for the highest diplomatic position in the land.
Things are not quite as amicable at U.N. headquarters. As the conflictin the Eastern DRC escalated, and as two U.N. reports provided extensive evidence of official Rwandan and Ugandan support for the M23 rebel group, Rice's delegation blocked any mention of the conflict's most important state actors in a Security Council statement. And in June, the U.S. attempted to delay the release of a UN Group of Experts report alleging ties between Rwanda and M23.
Peter Rosenblum, a respected human rights lawyer and professor at Columbia Law School, says that the U.S.'s reticence in singling out state actors is significant, especially at the U.N. "It shows [Rice] is willing to expend political capital to cast something of a shield over Rwanda and Uganda," he says. "These are the things that in diplomatic settings, they are remarked upon. People see that the U.S. is still there defending the leaders of these countries at a time when many of their other closest allies have just grown sort of increasingly weary and dismayed."
Sarah Margon of Human Rights Watch agrees that the U.S. should be more active in naming potential obstacles in resolving the eastern DRC conflict. "It's unacceptable for Rwanda to be violating UN Security Council resolutions and meddling in international peace and security," she says. "I think the U.S. government has a very powerful voice and they need to use it."
For some, Rice embodies a period in American policy in which U.S. influence was not put to particularly effective use in Africa. Rice served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during Bill Clinton's second term as president. As Rosenblum explained in a 2002 article in Current History [$], the second Clinton administration began with a full-fledged pivot to Africa, with Madeline Albright undertaking a high-profile visit to the continent early in her tenure as secretary of state. It was a substantive trip -- Albright gathered some of Africa's most dynamic newly-installed heads of state in Entebbe and Addis Ababa, where she articulated America's intention to change its relationship with the continent.
And Obama came out and told Congress to back off of his UN Ambassador Rice. Why, pray tell, should they not be allowed to point the reasons, well substantiated, as to why she should never be allowed the position of Secretary of State. And to think he is considering John Kerry as Secretary of Defense; now that is ludicrous. To reward a traitor with that position is a slap to all men and women who have ever fought for the U.S. and those that even gave their lives. To the Vietnam vets this is especially offensive. But then what does Obama know about administering the U.S. government let alone the position of commander-in-chief fo the military; absolutely nothing. He simply is following the program of his mentors, those financing him, etc.