President Obama has been backed into a corner by McCain, and if he doesn't choose Rice it will be counted as a scalp on Mad John's belt. Add to this the domestic political advantages of elevating a photogenic African-American female with ties to the Clinton faction of the Democratic party, and you have all the elements of a politically savvy and quite obvious choice. As us libertarian realists like to say: foreign policy is all about domestic politics, and the Rice nomination will mobilize the disparate elements of the Obamaite coalition in a high profile high stakes fight.
Liberals who consider themselves peaceniks will rally around her not least due to the Benghazi bungle and McCain's vendetta, while conservatives will hate her for entirely the wrong reasons. This is at it should be -- in Bizarro World.
Bemoaning McCain's hegemony in the Republican foreign policy field, and mocking his refusal to consider any appointment unless his (rather vague) demands are met, Rachel Maddow launched into one of her fascinating foreign policy speeches the other night. She showed a hilarious video montage of McCain calling for arming various "rebel" groups, from Bosnia to Syria, and asked: can't the GOP do better than the Arizona militarist when it comes to finding a foreign policy spokesman?
Susan Rice is bad news for opponents of our global meddling, bad news for the peace movement, and bad news for the country. Too bad we have to depend on McCain to torpedo her nomination: this means she will almost certainly be confirmed, as Mad John is widely seen as pursuing a personal feud and is increasingly isolated on the Hill. Even the always dependable Joe Lieberman -- who is retiring -- has abandoned him on this matter. That leaves Lindsey Graham as the sole remaining member of the Three Amigos of the War Party. The joke is that McCain and Rice disagree on nothing of substance.
If and when Rice is confirmed, it will mark the beginning of a new era of "humanitarian" intervention-on-steroids. Enlisted service members can look forward to frequent deployments to the jungles of Africa, while the "liberal" punditocracy on the home front can anticipate silencing critics with bombastic and bogus claims of "racism." Chris Matthews will have a ball.
Shortly after I started working on this article, Michael Collins wrote an article, Susan Rice's Conflict of Interest - Major Holdings in Tar Sands Oil, Keystone XL Pipeline, and Canadian Financiers . So I asked Collins his take on Rice.
Imagine the following scenario and ask how we would react.
Romney wins the election with a 52% to 48% majority. He comes in with a head of steam and says here's my cabinet. His Secretary of State nominee is Richard Bale; on a number of boards, charities, and former CEO of Port Arthur refineries (the name and company are fictional). Before confirmation hearings, we find out that Port Arthur Refineries is the destination point for the Alberta tar sands oil after that tar sands oil is transferred to Port Arthur via the Keystone XL pipeline. As Secretary of State, Bale has the top voice on lifting Obama's ban on the Keystone XL pipeline, a deadly transit mechanism crossing the Ogallala Aquiver in the Midwest and carrying toxic oil headed for China.
How would we react?
What would we say about Romney and his love of The Money Party?
Would we quote James Hansen concerning use of the tar sands oil, fully exploited would mean Game Over for the Climate?
The rice nomination is filled with conflict of interest and reflects poor judgment on the part of Obama and Rice. Furthermore, that they'd ever combine to try to get Rice as the head of state, it reflects a total contempt for any citizen who cares about the environment.
The reality is, Obama is a war president. He's used drones to kill over 1500 people many of them civilians. He's kept us at war for four more years and shows no signs of doing anything to reduce the bloated size of the military system that is parasitizing the resources of the US.
It is clear that Rice will serve Obama well, pleasing and assuaging liberals with nice words and occasional moves that relate to women's rights, while pursuing the exact same kinds of policies Dick Cheney pursued.
Some have said that John McCain and Lindsay Graham are attacking Rice because they want John Kerry to run, which would open up a seat in Massachusetts, so Scott Brown could run, with a decent chance at winning.
But there are many other candidates who could do a much better job. As John Nichols suggests, Russ Feingold would be great. So would Al Gore. Anne Marie Slaughter was Director of Policy Planning for the State Department, under Hillary Clinton, and dean of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Or Obama could go way out of the box and consider someone like Warren Buffett. If Obama wants to appoint a strong, principled Black woman, he might consider Marian Wright Edelman. Susan Rice doesn't come close to being the best choice for Secretary of State. How's this for an idea? Appoint someone who will reduce the USA's military footprint in the world-- someone who aims to make the US a nation that brings peace, not war-- someone who knows the ways of making growth and success happen, not someone who's been a part of letting 800,000 people killed and who was most concerned about the framing of their genocide.