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What Susan Rice Has Been Up To……


What Susan Rice Has Meant for U.S. Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa

How the possible-next Secretary of State helped the U.S. continue a Cold War-style approach to the continent — and aided a new generation of dictators in the process.

Rice South Sudan banner.jpg

Rice, then the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, walks through a market in southern Sudan (now the independent state of South Sudan) on November 19th, 2000. (Boris Grdanoski/AP Photo)

There is another way to think about the prospective nomination of Susan Rice for secretary of state.

It is one that is immeasurably more consequential than the Washington-centered and highly politicized controversy over her role in explaining the September 11 attack on the American diplomatic facility in Benghazi.

It is a way of thinking that looks at what kind of power the United States has been over the last 20 years, and it asks probingly about what kind of role it will play in the thick of this present century.

In any discussion of Susan Rice’s career, there is no escaping Africa. It is the place where she cut her teeth and built her essential record as a diplomat and national security official. Although there has been nary a hint of this in the fuss about Benghazi, I would go further still and say that one would be hard pressed to find anyone in American government who has played a larger and more sustained role in shaping Washington’s diplomacy toward that continent over the last two decades.

If Rice survives the current controversy over Libya and is nominated to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, understanding the details of her past work in Africa, and drawing her out about Washington’s approach toward the continent in the future, should be a matter of serious national concern.

Right now, Africa is changing with extraordinary speed and in surprising ways, but American policy there remains stale and stuck in the past: unambitious, underinvested and conceptually outdated.

This holds true at a time when the continent is growing demographically and urbanizing faster than any place before in history. Africa is booming economically as well, with an overall growth rate faster than Asia, and an emerging middle class larger than India’s.

China, the United States’ preeminent global rival, clearly gets this, and treats Africa not just as a place from which to extract mineral wealth — which of course it does — but also as a vital source of growth for the world economy going forward. China also views Africa as a geopolitical space of rapidly developing markets and huge business opportunities, including a nearly endless supply of new and underserved consumers.

China is not alone, either. Brazil, India, Turkey and Vietnam, to name just a few of the other fast-growing players, see Africa in much the same way, and are racing to establish a new, mature style of relations with the continent — one driven by promise, and not by the pity and strong paternalism that have characterized so much Western engagement for so long.

The United States, meanwhile, remains mired in an approach whose foundation dates to the Cold War, when we cherry-picked strongmen among Africa’s leaders, autocrats we could “work with,” according to the old diplomatic cliché.

These were men like Zaire’s late dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, whose anti-democratic politics, systematic human rights violations, and high tolerance for corruption we were willing to overlook so long as they stayed on our side in the great strategic struggles of the day. We counted on them to hold down the fort in their respective countries and regions, and in so doing, as the thinking went, to protect U.S. interests.

The binary jousting of the Cold War that seemed to justify this strategy is long gone, along with our old adversary, the Soviet Union. But the American approach to Africa remains strangely stuck in that mold even now, and this fact owes far more than the public recognizes to the diplomacy of Susan Rice.

When I first encountered Rice in Mali, during a visit there by then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher in 1996, she was a well-connected and high-achieving senior NSC staffer in her early thirties. She was possessed of a quick step and a look of complete self-confidence.

Most unusually for someone her age, she already had a career-defining crisis behind her, one in which she has played an important role: the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

According to Samantha Power, Rice’s advice to the Clinton White House in the critical early phases of the killing there was to avoid any public recognition that actual genocide was being committed, because to do so would legally require the United States to take action, and this (echoes of Benghazi?) might affect upcoming congressional elections….(Con’t)


CONTINUE READING: http://m.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/12/what-susan-rice-has-meant-for-us-policy-in-sub-saharan-africa/265833/

  1. Sir Richard
    December 3, 2012 at 21:09

    Pitbull, I have a great deal of respect for you. Susan Rice does not mean shit. It’s like I’m listening to the Savage show and he’s dumbed down for fear of the FCC. The ONLY way to solve our problem is to impeach obama. If that does not happen, then, we are fucked

    • December 3, 2012 at 22:07

      Sadly, I have no faith that obama will have to be held accountable and face justice for his numerous crimes and treason. I believe we are, indeed, fucked. That’s why I haven’t been posting much here lately. If we’re going down, I don’t want to spend my final days in total misery. Been fighting for seven years now, and I’m tired. I feel like I’m fighting for others’ children more than the parents are fighting. At this point, I just want them all to leave me alone and stay out of my way. Don’t want those cretins anywhere NEAR me. I do not share the need to “forgive” those who are responsible for this mess.

  2. CounterRevolution
    December 4, 2012 at 11:45

    Sir Richard, I submit that we have as much chance of impeaching Frank Marshall Davis Jr (AKA Barack Hussein Obama II) as the Politburo impeaching Vladimir Illych Ulyanov (AKA Lenin). After consolidation of power (we are obviously in the beginning of that stage) the Party will eat its most ardent supporters on the ground (the most ardent Counter Revolutionaries always are disillusioned supporters just like ex-smokers are the least tolerant towards other smokers) and then come after the rest of us. I’ve been fighting for over twenty years (since I heard George Herbert Walker Bush say we’ve entered a “New World Order” after the Kuwait Invasion in 1991) and I will keep fighting even if (big “IF”) they get me into an I&R camp (FM 3-39.40). It ain’t over until it’s over.

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