Susan Rice, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, has come under blistering attack by members of the Republican Party, most notably Senators John McCain and Mitch McConnell, for her explanation of the events surrounding the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including the Ambassador, Chris Stevens.
Their attacks on Ambassador Rice, an extraordinarily accomplished performer in a series of high profile positions including Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council in the White House, have been virulent and personal, and are seen as part of the continuing Republican assault on President Barack Obama and their attempt to make his presidency a failed one.
By calling Ambassador Rice “not very bright and incompetent,” they have aroused the righteous indignation and ire of the African-American community, which has rallied around the Ambassador to protect her from throwbacks like South Carolina’s Lindsay Graham, who we know would have unabashedly called her that N——r woman, in an earlier time in our history.
The attack and defense have been visceral and there will be no backing away, but it is unfortunate that the fight over the her presumed nomination for Secretary of State has been racist at its core, rather than policy-driven.
If it was driven by policy, there would be a much more interesting discussion involving the United States’ ongoing role in Africa. In an interview by Rob Kall, Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report said, “It is Susan Rice who has been blocking … the release of the last two reports from the UN documenting the role of Uganda and Rwanda, who are the United States’ two main allies- military allies- to the U.S.’s biggest henchmen in Africa.
“These UN reports document how they are complicit, in fact are the main actors, in the genocide in the Congo that has killed six million people. And if Rwanda and Uganda are the main actors in this genocide that means that the United States is the main actor in the genocide in Congo.” In the same interview Ford has described her as “demanding blockades and airstrikes against Sudan, invasion of Somalia, embargos on little Eritrea and regime change in Libya.” And it was Ambassador Rice who infamously and successfully argued against using the word “genocide” to describe the killing of 800,000 Rwandans in April of 1994, because of the effect it might have on the then upcoming congressional elections.
So while Ambassador Rice is no doubt brilliant and accomplished, she, like former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, seems too willing to further the aims of a power structure that does not have the best interests of people of color around the world at the top of their agenda. If the president does in fact nominate Ambassador Rice for Secretary of State, we don’t expect to see questions about these matters in her confirmation hearings and that would be a loss for all of us.