US envoy to the UN Susan Rice 311 (R).
(photo credit: Brendan McDermid / Reuters)
WASHINGTON – Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN who was forced to withdraw
her name from consideration as secretary of state under pressure from
Republicans, is now rumored to be a top choice for the next national security
Rice has long been a close aide to US President Barack Obama and
was widely considered to be his first pick to head the State
But GOP senators threatened to block her from the job after
her controversial public statements on the attack that killed the US ambassador
in Benghazi last September, pushing her out of contention and clearing the way
for John Kerry to get the job.
The current national security adviser, Tom
Donilon, is expected to remain in his post for some time. But Rice has been seen
as a likely replacement at some point during Obama’s second term since the job
does not require Senate approval and therefore wouldn’t be subject to Republican
A spate of news accounts Monday raised the prospect of her
taking over the role as early as the summer, when the United States will assume
the presidency of the UN Security Council.
Rice has received plaudits
from many in the Jewish community who appreciate her support for Israel at the
UN in the face of many critical resolutions and votes.
“She has been
consistently sympathetic, supportive and in solidarity with the Jewish
community,” said Jason Isaacson, director of government and international
affairs for the American Jewish Committee, an organization that has been
actively involved in UN matters related to Israel.
Among other examples,
Isaacson recalled her leadership in refusing to participate in the Durban Review
Conference in 2009 after anti-Israel language was included in a key conference
text , as well as the vote against recognition of Palestinian statehood at the
UN in November.
“Ambassador Rice has been consistently accessible and
open to the concerns of the Jewish community,” Isaacson said.
that she’s been “an outspoken spokesperson for the positions of the United
States, not just the Jewish community.”
However, there have been some in
the pro-Israel community who have criticized some of Rice’s
Elliott Abrams, a Middle East adviser to former president George
W. Bush, took issue with critical comments she had made about Israeli settlement
activity as part of the “explanation of veto” that accompanied her decisive vote
against a 2011 Security Council resolution that would have condemned the
“It’s hard to recall such a vehement statement against
Israel,” Abrams wrote at the time on the website of the Council on Foreign
Relations, where he is now a senior fellow.
He criticized her emotive and
undiplomatic language, though he chalked up her statement more to the direction
taken by the US administration than to Rice herself.
Late last year Rice
came under the heaviest fire from GOP critics. Republican senators announced
they didn’t believe she was fit to be secretary of state after she held a round
of TV interviews following the Benghazi attack in which she relayed
administration talking points that were later shown to be inaccurate.
those senators would be powerless to stop her from becoming national security
adviser, a crucial post, particularly in light of the tight control the Obama
White House has kept on foreign policy formulation.
Given Rice’s close
relationship with Obama, should she become national security adviser she could
be poised to have a more powerful role in policy-making than Kerry.