Choice for U.N. Backs Action against Mass Killings
The New York Times
30 November 2008
President-elect Barack Obama has chosen his foreign policy adviser, Susan E. Rice, to be ambassador to the United Nations, picking an advocate of ramatic action against genocide as he rounds out his national security team, Democrats close to the transition said Sunday. ()
The choice of Ms. Rice to represent the United States before the United Nations will make her one of the most visible faces of the Obama administration to the outside world aside from Mrs. Clinton. It will also send to the world organization a prominent and forceful advocate of stronger action, including military force if necessary, to stop mass killings like those in the Darfur region of Sudan in recent years.
To reinforce his intention to work more closely with the United Nations after the tensions of President Bushs tenure, Mr. Obama plans to restore the ambassadors post to cabinet rank, as it was under President Bill Clinton, according to Democrats close to the transition.
While the cabinet consists of 15 department heads, a president can give other positions the same rank for the duration of his administration.
hes obviously one of Obamas closest advisers, so it underscores how much of a priority hes making the position, said Nancy Soderberg, a senior United States diplomat at the United Nations under Mr. Clinton. f you look at the last eight years, we obviously need to be more engaged at the U.N. and realistic about what the U.N. can do. ()
During her first run at the State Department, Ms. Rice was a point person in responding to Al Qaedas 1998 bombing of United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. But her most searing experience was visiting Rwanda after the 1994 genocide when she was still on the N.S.C. staff. As she later described the scene, the hundreds, if not thousands, of decomposing, hacked up bodies that she saw haunted her and fueled a desire to never let it happen again. swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required, she told The Atlantic Monthly in 2001. She eventually became a sharp critic of the Bush administrations handling of the Darfur killings and last year testified before Congress on behalf of an American-led bombing campaign or naval blockade to force a recalcitrant Sudanese government to stop the slaughter.
Jerry Fowler, president of the Save Darfur Coalition, praised the pending Rice nomination on Sunday, calling it a powerful sign of the new presidents interest in the issue. The coalition is urging Mr. Obama to begin a eace surge of sustained diplomacy to address the continuing problems in Sudan. t sends a very strong signal about his approach to the issue of Sudan and Africa in general, Mr. Fowler said. ()
To see some of Mrs. Rices previous writings on R2P, please refer to the following:
1. The Evolution of Humanitarian Intervention and the Responsibility to Protect, July 2007 http://www.brookings.edu/articles/2007/07_human_rights_rice.aspx
2. The escalating crisis in Darfur, Speech given before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 8 February 2007: http://www.brookings.edu/testimony/2007/0208africa_rice.aspx
3. The Genocide in Darfur: America Must Do More to Fulfill the Responsibility to Protect, 2007 http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2007/1024darfur_rice_Opp08.aspx