Dec
01
2008

An Advocate of Strong Action Against Mass Killing?

A New York Times headline today about President-elect Barack Obama's nomination of Susan Rice to be U.N. ambassador declared "Obama's Choice for U.N. Is Advocate of Strong Action Against Mass Killings."

Undoubtedly, one of the greatest mass killings of recent years has been the Iraq War, which Just Foreign Policy estimates has killed nearly 1.3 million Iraqis.

So where did Rice stand on that?

As Jeremy Scahill recently pointed out on AlterNet, she

promoted the myth that Saddam had WMDs. "It's clear that Iraq poses a major threat," she said in 2002. "It's clear that its weapons of mass destruction need to be dealt with forcefully, and that's the path we're on." (After the invasion, discussing Saddam's alleged possession of WMDs, she said, "I don't think many informed people doubted that.")

As the Times piece notes, she has also been an advocate of military force in Darfur–despite the fact that Medicins Sans Frontieres has warned (2/22/07) that "a nonconsensual military intervention would lead to a collapse of humanitarian activities in Darfur–just as it did in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq . . . and is very unlikely to translate into less violence against civilians."

In an article she penned with Anthony Lake (Washington Post, 10/2/06), she advocated bombing Sudan even outside of the U.N.:

The United States, preferably with NATO involvement and African political support, would strike Sudanese airfields, aircraft and other military assets. It could blockade Port Sudan, through which Sudan's oil exports flow. Then U.N. troops would deploy–by force, if necessary, with U.S. and NATO backing.

If the United States fails to gain U.N. support, we should act without it…. [Critics] will insist that, without the consent of the United Nations or a relevant regional body, we would be breaking international law. Perhaps, but the Security Council recently codified a new international norm prescribing "the responsibility to protect." It commits U.N. members to decisive action, including enforcement, when peaceful measures fail to halt genocide or crimes against humanity. This genocide has lasted three long years. Peaceful measures have failed. The Sudanese government is poised to launch a second round. The real question is this: Will we use force to save Africans in Darfur as we did to save Europeans in Kosovo?

For more on the media's role in cheering for Obama's choices of Clinton-era centrists for cabinet positions, see FAIR's media advisory (11/26/08). For more on the media's role in distorting the Darfur crisis, see Mahmoud Mamdani's article from the London Review of Books and his interview on CounterSpin (transcript available here), and Julie Hollar's Extra! article, "The Humanitarian Temptation."