No Holds Barred: Susan Rice and the politicization of genocide

While Israel faces the possibility of genocide, Rice shows gross insensitivity to an Israeli leader for simply speaking out.

US national security advisor Susan Rice (photo credit: REUTERS)
US national security advisor Susan Rice
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Is there any dirty job for the Obama administration that Susan Rice is not prepared to do? Need someone to fraudulently blame the murder of an American ambassador in Libya on a stupid film? Send Rice to the Sunday morning talk shows.
Need someone to savage the leader of the only democracy in the Middle East as damaging the “fabric” of Israel’s relationship with the United States? Put Rice in the makeup chair of television interviewer Charlie Rose.
Yes, it seems there is nothing Rice isn’t prepared to do. And why should that surprise us?
This is the same Susan Rice who forbade Israel from criticizing John Kerry in her infamous tweet: “Personal attacks in Israel directed at Sec Kerry totally unfounded and unacceptable.” Yes, Israel’s freedom of expression is circumscribed by none other than Susan Rice.
But there is another reason Rice’s attack on the prime minister of Israel on Charlie Rose merits special opprobrium and that is the unique insensitivity she is famous for when it comes to genocide.
Iran is threatening to annihilate Israel. It is building the bombs to make that possible. It has lied to the world for more than a decade about its nuclear program. Iran is an oil superpower and energy exporter that needs nuclear energy about as much as I need a pork sandwich.
America is about to do a bad deal with Iran that will leave it something in the range of 5,000 spinning centrifuges enriching uranium.
Israel is not party to the talks. It has been cast in the same position of Czechoslovakia in the Munich agreement of 1938 where Britain and France negotiated away Czechoslovak security (and much of the country) without the Czechoslovaks even allowed to be present.
And while Israel faces the possibility of genocide, Rice shows gross insensitivity to an Israeli leader for simply speaking out.
But why shouldn’t Netanyahu entrust Israeli security to Rice? Perhaps it’s because of her record of trivializing genocide.
In 1994, Rice was part of Bill Clinton’s national security team that took no action whatsoever during the Rwandan genocide, leaving more than 800,000 men, women and children to be hacked to death by machete in the fastest slaughter of human beings ever recorded.
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 commander in Rwanda, Maj.-Gen. Roméo Dallaire, declared that he required only 5,000 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 details 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 90 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.
Madeleine Albright, then 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 from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide and now Rice’s successor as American ambassador to the United Nations, referred to Rice and her colleagues in the Clinton administration as bystanders to genocide. She quotes Rice in her 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?”
This is an astonishing statement. Here you have Rice hearing about the murder of 330 people every hour for three months and her response is – how will this affect us politically? That Rice would have brought up the midterm elections as a more important consideration than stopping the mass murder of so many men, women and children that their bodies were damming the rivers of Rwanda is one of the most heartbreaking pronouncements ever uttered by American official.
But she did not stop there.
Rice then joined Albright, Anthony Lake and Warren Christopher as part of a coordinated effort not only to impede UN action to stop the Rwandan 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 US would lend them 50 armored personal carriers.
The Clinton administration decided it would lease rather than lend the armor, for $15 million. The carriers sat on a runway in Germany while the UN pleaded for a $5m. 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 in grotesque ambiguity that Rice participated in.
It was painful enough to watch Kofi Annan elevated to secretary-general even though as head of UN peacekeeping forces worldwide he sent two now infamous cables to Dallaire forbidding him from making any effort to stop the genocide (the cables are on display in the Kigali Genocide Memorial).
It’s nearly as painful watching Rice now attack the Jewish state, which lost onethird of its entire people in a genocide of four short years, by saying how its elected leader is destroying its relationship with the world’s greatest superpower simply because a weaker nation insists on standing up for itself and speaking truth to power.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the international best-selling author of 30 books and has recently published The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging G-d in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. His website is Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.