December 14, 2012

Susan Rice Withdraws From State Department Lottery

Yesterday Susan Rice, America's ambassador to the United Nations, formally withdrew from consideration for Hillary Clinton's replacement at the State Department. Her announcement tentatively ends a politicized confrontation over her role in the aftermath of September 11th's assault on Benghazi's consulate, which snowballed following her appearances on mainstream media. Dispensing sheets of intelligence bulletpoints and attributing Benghazi's attack on the sporadic violence of anti-American protests, Rice soon found herself neck deep in a filthy election cycle with several ranking Republicans.

How much she knew and whether she was protecting the administration continues to be debated. Critics allege that Rice concealed information of a premeditated plot in an effort to downplay Benghazi's security breach during campaign season, thus shielding the administration from fallout related to al-Qaeda and its allies. Dropping out of the State Department's contention is also seen as a calculated response to next week's Congressional hearing on Benghazi, an event that the Obama administration is eager to shape.

The administration, on the other hand, denies forcing Rice out of the spotlight and rejects a subjective partisan attack on the White House itself.

“For them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation, is outrageous,” President Barack Obama declared on November 18th.

The result is a mountain of disinformation - a foreign policy debate nearly devoid of actual policy debate. Thousands of articles rehash Benghazi's deadly incident, the administration's response and the GOP's counterattack, and finally the loss of a Senate seat if John Kerry is promoted to Secretary of State. Few media sources venture into the fundamentals of American foreign policy. The working parts behind Benghazi's media response, along with the assault itself, is obviously consequential to U.S. foreign policy, in terms of intelligence gathering and the interaction between world events and Washington spin. However The Trench, like many other, would prefer to move ahead from Benghazi's political fallout toward real policy analysis.

Unfortunately Clinton is set to be replaced by another equally qualified, equally status quo candidate. Changing the topic of conversation would simply shift from one semi-irrelevant debate to another, as Clinton's replacement (either Kerry, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, or anyone else close to Obama) is virtually certain to continue the administration's foreign policy with minimal alterations. Contrary to electoral expectations of a bolder second term on the international front, the Obama administration seems to be holding course for a second term of economic domination. 

Only Afghanistan is penciled onto 2014’s horizon and, given the odds of a messy end, Obama is likely to downplay America's bloody exit from a war that will persist long after 2014. Iran's nuclear standoff with Western and Gulf capitals is on its way to dragging past Obama's second term.

Whether in Syria, Israel and Palestine, Iraq, Yemen or Mali, the U.S. portfolio will undergo minimal to no change despite a change in leadership at the State Department. Nothing can derail the Obama administration's brand of soft imperialism, as evidenced by Rice's propaganda-laced defense of herself in The Washington Post.

"It’s been my highest honor to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. I’m proud that President Obama has restored our global stature, refocused on the greatest threats to our security and advanced our values around the world."

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