President Barack Obama’s foreign policy is in shambles all over the world. On his watch, the Middle East is crumbling into sectarian violence, not only in Syria but in Iraq where Obama has squandered the victory over Islamists achieved during George W. Bush’s administration. The Muslim Brotherhood has taken over Egypt and turned it into an autocratic Islamist state.
Violent Islamic jihad has spread way beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Middle East and Africa. Iran is closing in rapidly on achieving a nuclear arms capability, while its ally North Korea is moving ahead with its nuclear program and advanced missile systems capable of delivering nuclear payloads to attack our allies and the United States itself. China is pressuring Japan and other neighboring countries in a strong hegemonic move to expand its sphere of influence, while Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is working to recreate the vestiges of the old Russian empire. Obama’s good friend Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is cracking down on dissidents at home and trying to recreate the Ottoman empire abroad.
Yet, in the midst of this morass, to whom does President Obama turn to succeed Tom Donilon as his chief adviser on national security? To Susan Rice, the same woman who agreed to front and blatantly lie for him and Hillary Clinton on national television last fall, delivering the Obama administration’s false narrative about the causes of the Benghazi attack that left four Americans dead.
Unlike the Cabinet position of Secretary of State, which requires Senate confirmation, Rice faces no such obstacle in taking over the White House position from Donilon who has served as Obama’s chief national security advisor since 2010. She is slated to take over Donilon’s job in July.
Obama’s decision to promote Susan Rice is not only an insult to the Senate, where Rice stood no chance in her bid to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. More importantly, it is an insult to the memories of the four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. They died in the premeditated terrorist attack that Rice whitewashed as a spontaneous violent reaction to an obscure anti-Muslim video in her TV rendition of the Obama administration’s prefabricated talking points.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tweeted after Rice’s appointment: “I really question the President’s judgment in promoting someone who was complicit in misleading the American public on the Benghazi attacks.”
To add further insult, Obama is nominating former National Security Council aide Samantha Power to replace Susan Rice as our UN ambassador. Power is an avowed Israel-basher, who also strongly advocated for the ill-advised U.S. military intervention in Libya that led ultimately to the Benghazi tragedy. Rice was also a strong advocate for U.S. military intervention in Libya. Both Rice and Power can be expected to push hard for becoming more involved militarily in Syria, consistent with their support for the human rights-centered “Responsibility To Protect” doctrine that calls for outside military intervention when a state is unwilling or unable to protect its own civilians from systematic violence.
Foreign policy experts believe that in terms of actual power and influence on the direction of the nation’s foreign policy, the position of chief national security adviser is more important than the cabinet post of Secretary of State. For example, Donilon, not Secretary of State John Kerry, set the course for the upcoming California summit meeting between Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping during Donilon’s own meeting with Xi in Bejing. Kerry has been spending much of his time spinning wheels on the sideshow of attempting to revive the moribund negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, who continue to insist on preconditions before they will even consider resuming talks with Israel.
As Donilon’s successor, Rice’s duties will involve coordinating national security policies into a single unified agenda among the State Department, Pentagon, and intelligence agencies. She will have Obama’s ear, and the authority to speak for him, in forging from the White House the direction of U.S. foreign policy on all significant issues.
In other words, Rice is moving from being the front person mouthing the product of others’ coordinated national security spin to leading the White House’s national security coordination machine. She will make the final decisions on what other mouthpieces will be saying regarding future Benghazi-like crises.
While Kerry has been moving in circles trying to negotiate with his Russian foreign minister counterpart to set up yet another meaningless peace conference in Geneva regarding Syria, we can expect that Rice will be calling the shots within the White House in shaping the real direction of the Obama administration’s Syrian strategy going forward.
What is that strategy likely to look like? Reflecting on her experience in the Clinton administration during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in which the U.S. stayed on the sidelines, Rice said: “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.”
With more than 80,000 people killed so far in the Syrian war and mounting evidence of the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, Rice will be facing “such a crisis again.” From her White House office, she will be in a position to steer the U.S. response towards “dramatic action,” even if it means bringing the whole region “down in flames.”
And finally, the question must be asked: If there is another Benghazi-like tragedy or worse, will it be Samantha Power’s turn to follow in Susan Rice’s footsteps and deliver a false narrative television to be coordinated this time by Obama’s new national security adviser? Time will tragically tell.
Joseph Klein is a Harvard-trained lawyer and the author of Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom and the new book, Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations & Radical Islam.