Susan Rice may be top pick for US security adviser

US ambassador to the UN is speculated to become the next national security adviser, sources say.

US envoy to the UN Susan Rice 311 (R) (photo credit: Brendan McDermid / Reuters)
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 adviser.
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 Department.
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 obstruction.
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.
He added 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 actions.
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 activity outright.
“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.
But 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.