• U.S.

What Rice and Power Mean

2 minute read
Jay Newton-Small

If personnel is policy, then barack Obama set a different tone in foreign affairs when he tapped U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as his new National Security Adviser on June 5. By naming Rice, Obama placed his trust in a loyalist who is known for her support of U.S. humanitarian intervention overseas–and who is famously unloved by Republicans.

Rice, 48, was Obama’s top pick to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, in part because he felt that Rice, with whom he often dines, best knows his mind. But Republicans objected to her because she blamed last year’s attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in part on outrage over an American-made video ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad rather than on terrorists. The State Department job went to John Kerry.

At the U.N., Rice displayed a brash effectiveness. She once presented Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin with a cartoon of the Grinch with his face stuck on it, but she also won unexpected acceptance from the Russians and the Chinese for tough new sanctions against Iran and for the military intervention in Libya. Rice will replace Tom Donilon, a seasoned realist who avoided television appearances and rarely gave speeches. Rice has said her greatest regret was failing, as an aide to Bill Clinton, to mobilize a response to the genocide in Rwanda. She has since pushed for military intervention to stop humanitarian crises in Libya, central Africa and Syria. The job of National Security Adviser does not require Senate confirmation.

Rice will likely have an ally in Samantha Power, the 42-year-old former White House aide who, if confirmed by the Senate, will replace her at the U.N. Power covered the wars in the Balkans as a reporter, then wrote a book on U.S. failures to halt genocides, becoming a leading advocate for overseas intervention. Power is no stranger to controversy–she abruptly resigned from Obama’s 2008 campaign after calling Hillary Clinton a “monster.”

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