Apropos my posting yesterday on the newly named U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice–who told Stanford University‘s alumni magazine that during her visit to Rwanda she saw “hundreds if not thousands of decomposing corpses outside and inside a church. Corpses that had been hacked up. It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen. It makes you mad. It makes you determined”– a friend alerted me to this passage from the book by Samantha Power, A Problem from Hell (found on page 359 in the paperback edition):
At an interagency teleconference in late April, Susan Rice, a rising star on the NSC who worked under Richard Clarke, stunned a few of the officials present when she asked, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?” Lieutenant Colonel Marley remembers the incredulity of his colleagues at the State Department. “We could believe that people would wonder that” he says, “but not that they would actually voice it.” Rice does not recall the incident but concedes “If I said it, it was completely inappropriate, as well as irrelevant.”
Ms. Rice is correct; this comment was “totally inappropriate,” to say nothing of somewhat sickening. Ms. Rice may now view herself as a champion against genocide because of her role in allowing genocide to unfold in Rwanda without raising a finger. Still, this incident is worth bearing in mind when considering her appointment. We will see if she’s any more effective in the U.N. then she was in the N.S.C.
My friend also reminded me that not only did Rice oppose the overthrow of the sadistic ruler of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, but also that people like George Soros and Zbigniew Brzezinski favored U.S. bombing in Kosovo in order to halt the genocide there–yet both were fierce critics of the Iraq war. “We have to sustain the bombing campaign but make it more effective, more painful to Milosevic’s forces,” Brzezinski told Jim Lehrer in 1999. “I realize the difficulties of conducting that campaign, given the terrain and the weather. But I think we have to become more assertive, take more risks. I think we have held back too much . . . I think we have to make it very clear: Milosevic has forfeited the right to sovereignty over Kosovo by the genocidal policies that he has pursued.” (emphasis added)
Even if they opposed the war for geopolitical reasons, they rarely if ever, to my knowledge, publicly spoke out about the liberation aspect of the war and why even war critics should take joy in the fact that one of the most vicious dictators in our lifetime was defeated and brought to justice. The moral and humanitarian impulse that applies in some places didn’t seem to apply to Iraq. It should have.