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UN 12/24/12

January 18, 2013

This blog entry is written by members of our blogging community and expresses those experts’ views alone.   

John and Douglas Carey, Editors

In this issue: more on the downfall of Susan Rice.

Having fallen on her sword once by announcing that she did not care to be nominated to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, Susan Rice on December 21st re-emphasized her sacrifice by making the following statement, as announced by the State Department:

“America is fortunate that Senator John Kerry will be our next Secretary of State, once confirmed by the Senate. For over four decades, Senator Kerry has served extremely ably and demonstrated selfless commitment to our country. From his heroic service in the U.S. Navy, his principled opposition to the Vietnam War, and his distinguished tenure in the U.S. Senate, to his wise chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Kerry has led tirelessly and effectively to advance U.S. interests and values around the globe. I have been honored to work with him in the past, and I look to working closely with him again on President Obama’s national security team.”

The question still lingers why Ambassador Rice needed to take herself out of the race to succeed Hillary Clinton, since she had not been nominated by the President to fill that post. An answer can be found in GOP ambitions. The job done on Rice by Senators McCain, Graham and Ayotte, vowing to do all in their power to block in the Senate any nomination of Rice, was so ungentlemanly and unladylike that there had to be a more plausible explanation for it than the general supposition that Rice had intimidated each of them at some point by her superior intelligence.

Why would these three Republicans have been so eager to pave the way to the State Department for Democrat John Kerry that they would stab Rice in the back to get her out of the way? Answer: so that they could remove Kerry from the Democratic Senate caucus and try in 2013 to unseat Democratic Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s interim appointment in favor of a Republican such as the man Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren just defeated.

And on top of that there is also the possibility that the Gang of Three who did Rice in were motivated at least in part by personal friendship with Kerry. They had worked with him over the years, very likely in close cooperation, whereas they had never worked with Rice but only watched her from afar.

The three may have heard that Rice’s father was one of the Tuskeegee Airmen in World War II, black aviators blocked at first from serving in combat, that she was a Rhodes scholar, only 2-3 generations away from immigration to this country, that her mother had been President of her class at Radcliffe whose four brothers had graduated from Brunswick College in Maine where that branch of the family had arrived from Jamaica.

Politics makes strange bedfellows, as well as strange acts of cruelty. But politicians who are doing their job have a way of making friends of convenience even out of those they have previously fought and possibly wronged.

And then there is the power of the press to consider. I believe that the news media, in an unavowed effort to right a bit of the wrong done to Rice, will shower her with favorable coverage as she forges ahead in the role of chief US representative to the whole world. That kind of public relations opportunity is beyond the reach of a mere Secretary of State, even though Hillary Clinton has made the most that can be made of it.

One US diplomatic achievement that Ms. Rice surely was involved in is our success in keeping our share of UN costs at the 22% level instead of its rising higher next year in response to the crying-poor of other countries. And I love the comment of the Russian Ambassador that, if Rice is to stay at the UN, he wants his government to double his salary, since she is so tough a bargainer for him to have to compete with.

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