Susan Rice serves as senior adviser to President Obama on international affairs and chairs the National Security Council overseeing the National Security staff. She serves on the president’s cabinet and is said to be among the president’s inner-inner circle of advisers.
She has an impressive record of achievements, starting with her college years and her selection as a Rhodes Scholar. She has served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in senior advisory positions with both Presidents Clinton and Obama and as assistant secretary of state for African affairs. She noted in a U.S. Mission to the United Nations report that she “served on the front lines of the president’s ‘new era of engagement.’” She is good, smart and deeply embedded in the Democratic Party.
Also, she serves as a mouthpiece for the president, as she did when explaining the White House version of the Benghazi tragedy.
Who should be held responsible for the current state of affairs in Iraq and the fact our country and the White House were caught unprepared and/or flat-footed?
If titles mean anything, the chair of the National Security Council should be a major player, but in the current hyper-partisan environment in Washington, is there a case to be made that the head of security should not be a partisan political operative?
This past Thursday, President Obama met with members of his national security team and then held a press conference to disclose the actions he will take relative to the Iraq situation.
He emphasized the need to increase intelligence activities inside Iraq and detailed several facets of this intelligence-gathering task such as identifying specific targets within Iraq for possible missile strikes and the necessity to strengthen our counterterrorism efforts.
This sounds good and on target, but right now, the big question is what happened to our intelligence efforts prior to the Iraq insurgents/terrorists surge? What can be learned from our inability to keep on top of potentially deadly situations?
Were members of the National Security Council blind to what was going on or asleep at the switch? Those serving under the leadership of Susan Rice include national security advisers and cabinet officials, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other officials whose expertise is pertinent to current situations.
These people should have all the resources, the absolute best, to be aware of dangerous situations around the world, but they obviously blew it with Iraq.
Or did the intelligence and military people know of the danger but didn’t make a strong enough presentation to the entire National Security Council? Or, another possibility: Since those on the National Security Council are appointed by the president and serve as the president wishes, are they hesitant to speak up and differ, even argue and vote against the policy favored by the president? Are too many on the council “yes men” for the president rather than being totally committed to what is in the best interests of this country?
As noted above, Rice has a distinguished record, but how does she measure up in the security, intelligence, terrorism and military areas? Does she present unvarnished facts to the public? Did her performance in presenting these facts to the nation represent the thinking of her fellow council members or were these facts given to her by White House and State Department officials?
Either way, it looks as if White House and State Department officials were blind-sided by the Benghazi attacks or they knew what happened but didn’t shoot straight with the public.
Years later, the insurgents of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria mounted their deadly, brutal attacks apparently once again catching National Security Council members by surprise. Did some members of the council know about this danger but didn’t make a strong case, or did they make their concerns known but Obama or Rice dismissed the situation as not sufficiently dangerous?
The public has every right to expect members of the National Security Council to be on top of all situations, with little excuse — really no excuse — for being caught napping.
There should be no room or justification for party politics to play a role in the council’s actions. The president and this country deserve exceptional, professional public servants serving on this critical council, not individuals who possibly compromise their mission by trying to please the president who appoints them. They must base decisions and votes on their professional appraisal of the situations.
The country relies on the National Security Council to keep it from being caught off-guard. We’ve been relatively fortunate so far, in that none of the blind spots have critically wounded this country, but how can Americans be more confident that National Security Council members will be more diligent in carrying out their duties, free of partisan political pressures?