Dr. Susan Rice Tapped for US Ambassadorship to the UN

25 11 2008

News is circulating fast of Dr. Susan Rice becoming emerging as the leading candidate for the next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Like others, I think this is a good thing. Dr. Rice – not to be confused with current the Secretary of State Dr. Condi Rice – is a rising star in the foreign policy world with expert knowledge on such issues as the challenges posed by weak and failed states, transnational threats from criminal and terrorist networks, the destabilizing effects of climate change and the importance of multilateral institutions.

Dr. Rice deep knowledge on African affairs will also be an indispensable asset to any ambassador to the UN in light of the fact that, according to UN Dispatch, “about 2/3rds of all discussions at the Security Council are about situations in Africa.”

For some, it might seem a  bit odd for the candidate of change to install another veteran of the Clinton administration – she served at the State Department and as a deputy at the National Security Council – at such a high level post. But such criticism is short-sighted. Like many other Clintonites on team Obama such as former National Security Advisor Tony Lake, Dr. Rice joined  the Obama campaign early on and quickly emerged as one of its most effective advocates while also playing a key role in crafting the campaign’s foreign policy.

As some have already noted, if Obama goes ahead with this appointment, its a sign that he is taking U.S.-U.N. relations very seriously, given how Dr. Rice has been within his inner circle of advisors since day one.

By the same token, however, observers such as Steven Benen pointed out that Dr. Rice could be even more effective in the White House as deputy national security adviser creating policy under retired Marine General James L. Jones who reportedly already has the national security adviser gig all locked up.

But Obama could still opt convert the UN ambassadorship to a cabinet level post while empowering her to take the diplomatic lead on the U.S. response to genocide in the Sudan, the failed state in Somalia, and other regional problems in Africa, along with leading U.S. efforts for reforming the UN system. In time, the former Rhodes Scholar could then assume another high profile role with even more responsibility and greater access to the president, such as becoming Secretary of State.

Check out Dr. Susan Rice get her wonk on while on MSNBC.

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