Opinion: Rice’s Failure in Rwanda Precludes her from Becoming Secretary of State

November 30, 2012 3:33 pm 1 comment

U.S. Ambassador to UN, Susan Rice. Photo: wiki commons

That Susan Rice either willfully misled the American people on the Benghazi attacks, or lazily absorbed intelligence briefings without the least bit of personal involvement, is obvious. That she was covering for the Obama Administration in denying a terror attack just weeks before the election is speculative but likely. That she does not, therefore, deserve to become Secretary of State is arguable.

But what is not arguable is that she deserves to be denied the post for a different reason altogether: Rwanda. What emerges when taken together – Rice’s weak response in Benghazi, blaming the murder of four Americans on a stupid video, and her shameful lack of action in the Rwandan genocide – is a career diplomat of singular weakness, lacking the spine or muscularity to assert American moral influence in the world.

Rice was part of Bill Clinton’s National Security Team whom in 1994 refused any involvement whatsoever in the Rwanda genocide leaving more than 800,000 men, women, and children to be hacked to death by machete in the fastest genocide ever recorded. The Clinton Administration had just been spooked by the Black Hawk down incident in Somalia and wanted no further foreign entanglements. But the lengths to which they went to deny assistance to the Tutsis, with Rice being central to the decision-making process, will forever live in infamy.

But not content to insist on American non-involvement, the Clinton administration went a step further by obstructing the efforts of other nations to stop the slaughter. On April 21, 1994, the Canadian UN commandeer in Rwanda, General Romeo Dallaire, declared that he required only 5000 troops to bring the genocide to a rapid halt. In addition, a single bombing run against the RTLM Hutu Power radio transmitting antenna would have made it impossible for the Hutus to coordinate their genocide. But on the very same day, as Phillip Gourevitch explains in his definitive account of the Rwandan genocide, We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We will Be Killed with Our Families, the Security Council, with the Clinton Administration’s blessing, ordered the UN force under Dallaire reduced by ninety percent to a skeleton staff of 270 troops who would powerlessly witness the slaughter to come. This, in turn, was influenced by Presidential Decision Directive 25, which ‘amounted to a checklist of reasons to avoid American involvement in UN peacekeeping missions,’ even though Dallaire did not seek American troops and the mission was not peacekeeping but genocide prevention. Indeed, Madeleine Albright, the American Ambassador to the UN, opposed leaving even this tiny UN force. She also pressured other countries ‘to duck, as the death toll leapt from thousands to tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands… the absolute low point in her career as a stateswoman.’

In a 2001 article published in The Atlantic, Samantha Power, author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning A Problem of Hell and arguably the world’s foremost voice against genocide and who currently serves on the National Security Council as an aide to  President Obama, referred to Ambassador Susan Rice and her colleagues in the Clinton Administration as Bystanders to Genocide. She quotes Rice in the 2002 book as saying, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November congressional election?” Rice’s subordination of a human tragedy of epic proportions to partisan political interests mirrors the current allegations of why she denied a terror attack in Benghazi. Rice then joined Madeline Albright, Anthony Lake, and Warren Christopher as part of a coordinated effort not only to impede UN action to stop the Rwanda genocide, but to minimize public opposition to American inaction by removing words like “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” from government communications on the subject.

In the end, eight African nations, fed-up with American inaction, agreed to send in an intervention force to stop the slaughter provided that the U.S. would lend them fifty armored personal carriers. The Clinton Administration decided it would lease rather than lend the armor for a price of $15 million. The carriers sat on a runway in Germany while the UN pleaded for a $5 million reduction as the genocidal inferno raged. The story only gets worse from there, with the Clinton State Department refusing to label the Rwanda horrors a genocide because of the 1948 Genocide Convention that would have obligated the United States to intervene, an effort that Susan Rice participated in.

I recently met Gourevitch at a press conference I hosted for the Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, where she announced that Rwanda would be opening an Embassy in Israel in the next six months. It was an honor for me to encounter an American who had done so much to highlight the brutal slaughter of innocent Africans while the most powerful country on earth did nothing.

But why honor Susan Rice for the ignominy of doing nothing while six in Rwanda died every minute. Why elevate a woman so oblivious to American moral principles and the value of African life that she thought we aught to sit this one out?

It was painful enough to watch Kofi Anan elevated to Secretary General even though as head of UN peace-keeping forces worldwide he sent two now infamous cables to Dallaire forbidding him from any efforts to stop the genocide (the cables are on display in the Kigali Genocide Memorial where I visited in the summer). But to elevate Rice would make a mockery of those who believe that “Never Again” ought to mean just what is says.

Better that Rice remain where she is. An Ambassador whose spinelessness perfectly matches the organization she’s in.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, whom Newsweek and The Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, and will shortly publish “The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging G-d in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering.” His website is www.shmuley.com. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

1 Comment

  • Absolutely correct on Rice and abhorrent behavior on Rwanda. President Clinton’s visit to Rwanda where he openly lied about how much information he had at the time of the slaughter is awful in the extreme. That Washington insiders suffer from Potomac Fever is hazardous. One wonders what lessons Ms. Rice learned from Rwanda?

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Education Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    JNS.org – My wife Suzy and I will never forget our wedding day. It was not just the uplifting ceremony and beautiful party that left an indelible mark. Some life-altering advice that we received from one of our guests informed and shaped our lives from that day forward. My high school teacher, Rabbi Moshe Yagid, pulled us aside just before the chuppah and challenged us to choose one mitzvah that would be the foundation of our marriage and our lives. He explained [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    JNS.org – Influenced by his Jewish upbringing and a summer on a kibbutz, basketball coach David Blatt is embarking on his highest-profile challenge yet: coaching LeBron James, the four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player who has made waves for returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. After guiding Israel’s storied Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball franchise to its 51st Israeli league championship and 6th Euroleague title this past season, Blatt landed the Cavaliers head-coaching job in June. Just weeks later, [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    JNS.org – At the turn of the century, a young Jewish immigrant arrived in New York. So begins the history of many American Jewish families. It is 27-year-old Albert Allaham’s story, too, with a few unusual twists. Albert’s “century” is the 21st—he arrived almost 100 years after the massive waves of European Jewish immigration. Rather than coming from a small town along the Danube river, his shtetl was Damascus. His first American business was not a pushcart on the Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    Did you know that in the entire Bible, only one birthday is mentioned and it is that of Pharaoh? And did you know that according to some scientists, by accepting Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, it is impossible to prove or disprove that the sun is the gravitational center of our solar system? In his new book, REBBE, best-selling author Joseph Telushkin reveals many surprising and sometimes shocking details as he chronicles the life and teachings of the charismatic Rabbi [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Mitzvos New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    JNS.org – Omelet sandwich: 5 shekels. Iced coffee: 5 shekels. Tuna sandwich: 5 shekels. Fresh-squeezed orange juice: 5 shekels. Cheese bureka: 5 shekels. There’s plenty more on the Cofizz menu, but you get the idea. Dani Mizrahi and Amir Amshalm, two Israeli men in their early 30s, asked themselves: Why not launch a take-out food joint in busy neighborhoods around Jerusalem where everything—and that means everything—goes for five shekels, or about $1.50. They’d seen the concept take off in Tel Aviv, where [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    The new FX Network drama Tyrant was shot entirely in Israel, just 10 miles north of Tel Aviv, Bloomberg News reported last Tuesday. Tyrant follows the life of an Arab dictator’s second son Barry, played by Adam Rayner, who reluctantly returns home to the Middle Eastern nation of his birth to join the family business away from his suburban life in America. The elaborate set production for the primetime drama included a crew of 300 and a reported cost of over $3 million [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Skokie, Il-born 25-year-old Erin Heatherton (Erin Heather Bubley) is rocking the modeling world. And in a new interview accompanying a cover spread for Miami’s Ocean Drive magazine, she says Jewish moms are “constantly trying to set her up with their sons.” Imagine that – who would have thought? “The moms, they’re doing what they do. It doesn’t matter what country they live in, what city – grandmothers, too,” she admitted. “But I’m probably going to do that too one day.” Heatherton was [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Israel First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    Some 15 Turkish university professors and lecturers will take part in a first of its kind seminar at Holocaust museum Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies starting next week. The trip is especially significant as Holocaust denial is rampant in the Arab world. A Palestinian professor was recently forced to resign after he led a trip to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz. Participants in the week-long program at Yad Vashem will experience in-depth tours of the museum’s archives and [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.