Obama Picks Interventionists Rice and Power For Top Security and UN Gigs


Credit:U.S. State Dept./wikimedia

Susan Rice is set to replace Tom Donilon as President Obama's National Security Advisor. Rice, the current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is perhaps best known for the comments she made following the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi in September 2012, which many believed were misleading and an indication that the Obama administration was not being forthcoming about what was known about who perpetrated the attack.

Samantha Power, a former White House adviser who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on American responses to genocides, is to be nominated as Rice's successor and will face a Senate confirmation.

The move suggests that Obama is not only willing to stand by Rice amid the controversy of the Benghazi consulate attack but also that he is also happy having advocates of humanitarian intervention being in influential roles.

Rice is known in part for her advocacy for interventionism, as Foreign Policy has highlighted:

Rice swallowed her private desires for a quick U.S. intervention into Libya and followed White House orders to publicly press the brakes on the international march toward a no-fly zone throughout the second week of March 2011. She all the while made her preference toward intervention known inside the White House, and was eventually instrumental in pushing through a March 17 U.N. Security Council vote of 10-0 to take "all necessary measures" to protect Libyan civilians. "The Libya resolution was a major achievement for Rice," wrote Traub.

Her foreign-policy outlook is said to be shaped by the nightmare of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which transformed her from a "haunted realist" to an "impassioned interventionist," according to aprofile of her by Julia Ioffe in the New Republic. At the time, she served as director for international organizations and peacekeeping at the National Security Council during Bill Clinton's first term.

During the Rwandan genocide Rice was serving on the National Security Council and told Samantha Power when her expected successor was an aide to Obama, "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."

Power was one of the main architects of the intervention in Libya and was a reporter in Bosnia during the early 90s, an experience that no doubt influenced her thinking on humanitarian intervention.

That the next National Security Advisor and the next (barring a botched Senate confirmation hearing) U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. are both interventionists is of special importance given the ongoing situation in Syria, especially considering that according to the French and British governments Obama's self imposed "red line" has been crossed.

NEXT: Electronic Snooping Threatens Free Speech, Says U.N. Report

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  1. Has anyone anywhere within the administration been held responsible for lying to the American people about ANY of these scandals yet?

    Can they at least not PROMOTE the people who keep lying?


    1. It reminds me of Alberto Gonzales being elevated to Attorney General after the torture fiasco, etc. blew up.

      This seems to be SOP. Somebody disgraces your administration, so you elevate them.

      I used to think it was a way for the president to thumb his nose at his critics, but maybe there’s more to it?

      I know there aren’t any confirmation hearings for NSA; does being NSA make it harder for Congress to compel testimony as well?

      1. “It reminds me of Alberto Gonzales being elevated to Attorney General after the torture fiasco, etc. blew up.”


        1. Alberto Gonzales had his dirty little fingerprints all over the torture memos. Check out the Schlesinger Report

          It came out in 2004.

          What a fiasco!

          Alberto Gonzales was elevated to Attorney General in 2005.

          1. I don’t see the similarity at all. Your link doesn’t say anything about the “torture memos” and Gonzales was already AG when they issued the CIA authorization to waterboard terrorists.

            I don’t agree with that decision, but you’re comparing apples to oranges here.

            1. I’m comparing Alberto Gonzales screwing up royally (as White House Counsel on the Torture Memo) and subsequently being elevated to Attorney General…comparing that to Susan Rice screwing up and subsequently being elevated to NSA.

              Gonzales was already AG when they issued the CIA authorization to waterboard terrorists.

              Actually, Gonzales was White House Counsel when the torture memo(s) graced his desk in 2002 (it’s all in the Schlesinger Report)–and he wasn’t elevated to Attorney General until 2005 (months after the Schlesinger Report was released to the public).

              Because having done such a great job on torture being legally acceptable, Bush needed him to do similar work at a higher level?

              I don’t know. I just know that screwing up royally at the White House doesn’t always get you thrown out on your ass like it would in the private sector. Sometimes it gets you promoted!

              Sometimes it seems like if you screw up they elevate you so it won’t look like a screw up at all (since the president can never admit to making a mistake), like keeping Janet Reno on after Waco.

              1. Gonzales didn’t lie to anyone. He didn’t really “screw up” anything as far as what he was asked to do. You can disagree with him as plenty of people have done about the torture memos (and I might agree with you) but it wasn’t “a screw up” and he wasn’t lying. Apples to oranges.

                I don’t get why you feel the need to make the comparison.

                1. I can’t imagine a bigger blunder in interpreting international law. Gonzales’ work probably did more to set back the war effort in Iraq than anything else. It’s right up there with De-Baathification as the Bush Administration’s biggest blunders.

                  If there were any Iraqis sympathetic to the American cause in Iraq, that support all but dried up the moment those photos hit the interwebs. Look at the Schlesinger Report! When they’re talking about the OLC in 2002, they’re talking about Gonzales.

                  That was him!

                  How do you reward someone for making such a big blunder in interpreting the law? Why, you make him the Attorney General, of course!

                  Why make the comparison? Because it’s the exact same thing. And everyone who’s papering over Susan Rice now–and condemned Bush for his disgraceful elevation of Gonzales way back when? Should be made to eat their words in public. That’s why I’m bringing up the comparison.

                  Madeline Albright on Rwanda. Janet Reno at Waco. These people are almost never held responsible for what they do. That generally only happens in the private sector.

      2. It’s a reward to keep them from talking.

        1. There’s that.

          Sometimes I think they do it for other reasons. I’m not real clear on whether the NSA is subject to Congress at all–since the NSA isn’t overseeing any federal agency–and if that’s the case, then that might give the president an out on Benghazi. I suspect Obama might invoke executive privilege if she were subpoenaed to testify, but being the NSA, I’m not clear on whether that would even be necessary.

          And I’d love it if someone who knows more about this stuff than I do could explain what exactly the NSA’s responsibilities are to Congress. From what I can tell, the NSA doesn’t have any. There isn’t even a confirmation hearing.

    2. We don’t even really know yet who the person was who thought up the lie in the first place.

    3. Can they at least not PROMOTE the people who keep lying?

      That’s the number one qualifier for all the jobs in DC.

    4. The only people lying are those claiming Susan Rice did something wrong.

      And if going on talk shows and reading faulty talking points is the new standard of wrongdoing, then we must be doing something very right.

  2. Obama loves lying incompetent people. He keeps as many of them around as he possibly can. It is much harder to control honest competent people. When you understand that, you understand why total disasters like Power and Rice never leave the White House.

  3. In 2008, I hated John McCain and merely mistrusted Barack Obama. I can no longer imagine any way in which a McCain presidency could be worse that the Obama administration.

    1. The US would likely be at war with Iran and/or North Korea right now.

      1. Yeah, but at least the lefties and Democrats would be out there protesting McCain led interventions.

        Say what you will about the Tea Party, (and I have many unflattering names I use) they at least protested both sides during the most blatant intrusions into the economy (stimulus) and the most flagrant attempts at cronyism (bailouts).

        1. They didn’t give a shit about the economy before November 2008.

      2. And Syria.

        1. Good thing that is not going to happen under Obama or anything. And don’t forget, McCain would have gone into Libya too.

      3. Whatever gets you through the night Hugh. That is weapons grade stupid. No President of either party wants to go to war with North Korea. And show me a single time McCain ever said he planned to go to war with North Korea. And while you were at it, explain how he planned to get such a war through the Pelosi Congress.

        Just stop it with that shit. It makes the board look stupid. We have Tony and Shreek to do that.

        1. Probably not NK, but Iran would be conceivable. Of course, it’s a possibility under Obama too.

          1. Everybody would’ve been jumping all over McCain even for rumblings of military intervention. Obama can bomb other countries without even asking for congressional authorization and. . .crickets.

        2. Whatever gets you through the night Hugh.

          It’s in my head now, and so shall it be in yours.

    2. Never ask that question, kinnath. I recall asking the same about BOOOOOSH.

      1. Get Real. The democrats would have fought tooth and nail against all the policies the McCain would have wanted (and Obama actually implemented). Being mavericky and all that, McCain would have had no qualms about fucking republican ideals and compromising with dems.

        He would have become a crusty, cranky version of Clinton.

        1. Yes, but after 12 years of Team Red it’s very likely an even more confidant and “transparent” version of Obama would have been elected with even stronger support in Congress in 2012.

          1. The divisions with the republican party would still exist (Paul, Amash, etc versus McCain and his cronies). But the media would have been hostile and the democractic party would have fought him.

            And it is extremely unlikely that any party holds POTUS for four straight terms. So McCain would have had four years, and Hillary would be in her first term. And as much as I hate that bitch, I’d take her over Obama any day.

            1. Why do you think Hillary would’ve been in a stronger position in alternate universe 2012 than Obama? I think Obama would’ve won by a landslide.

              1. Losing an election is pretty much a career-ender. Gore got one shot, Kerry got one shot. If Obama lost 2008, he’d be in the Senate until some future Dem president put him in charge of HUD.

                1. True, I forgot about that.

        2. The democrats would have fought tooth and nail against all the policies the McCain would have wanted

          Perhaps. But I recall the Dems rolling right over for things like Ira and the Patriot Act. BOOOOOSH was criticized over Medicare Part D in that it didn’t go far enough.

          McCain is enough of a jackboot-willing statist that he would have gotten along swimmingly with the opposition.

      2. Be careful, or I’ll start another hops thread.

    3. They all suck.

      It’s about what flavor of hell you prefer.

      I think I prefer the hell without ObamaCare, Obama having remade Wall Street in his own image, etc.

      I don’t think Romney would have been worse than Obama, but, again, we’re talking about which circle of hell you prefer–they all suck.

    4. I can imagine a way that the Obama presidency is better, if after two terms of being ever-more-mired in their BS the pendulum swing towards a Rand Paul getting elected and actually accomplishing something libertarianish.

      I can imagine this happening, but I’m not very optimistic of it actually happening.

      1. if you can’t have a dream, then how can a dream come true.

        1. I never had to dream about owning an iPad.

    5. McCain wanted to send troops against Russia in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, in a conflict that Saakashvili started. Nominal Democrats in the national security establishment aren’t much better, of course, but as I saw it, the choice was between bad and worse. George W. Bush deserves real credit for how he handled the situation of August 2008.

  4. So the next NSA is someone who either doesn’t know shit about shit, or is up for lying about shit, and in either case is definitely up for shitting on freedom of speech. Well, I guess that last part makes sense for an NSA.

    1. She sounds eminently qualified for the job.

      ‘Shameless’ and ‘power-mad’ falls under “other duties as assigned.”

  5. “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.”

    Sure you did, sweetie. I’m sure you’re going to get right on that.

    1. Funny how these sorts of people always are “willing to go down in flames if necessary” and all of that but are never actually held responsible for any of their fuck ups no matter how big.

      1. They’ll go down with the ship as long as there’s no one else to throw overboard to free up space on a lifeboat.

      2. She meant she was willing to take the U.S. down in flames if necessary.

        1. Ah, I like your translation. “I am willing to burn the Constitution and all legacies of a free people to keep my spot on the greasy pole. Because fuck you, that’s why.”

          1. She cares that much. There’s no sacrifice of other people she’s not willing to make.

    1. This. Good soldier takes the fall & gets rewarded. Isn’t that what success in organized crime politics is all about?

  6. “America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

    John Quincy Adams

  7. which many believed were misleading and an indication that the Obama administration was not being forthcoming about what was known about who perpetrated the attack.

    Ha. Nice moderation of what is already KNOWN (gotta get into those cocktail parties, I assume). People died, Obama lied.

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