Why Susan Rice is a better fit for national security adviser than for secretary of state.
Obama's appointment of Susan Rice as national security advisor is not actually very bold
Obama's appointment of Susan Rice as national security advisor is not actually very bold.
Over the weekend I had the privilege of sitting in on the 8th annual Saban Forum, a high-level, Brookings-sponsored dialogue between Israeli and American officials (current and former) along with journalists, intellectuals, and representatives from other countries in the Middle East.
On March 17, the U.N. Security Council voted to authorize “all necessary measures” to stop an impending massacre of Libyan civilians. Before long, a narrative had emerged explaining how President Obama had become enmeshed in another major conflict. According to this version of events, a heated debate had occurred between the administration’s realists—Defense Secretary Robert Gates, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and his deputy, Denis McDonough—and its interventionists: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; the genocide scholar turned foreign policy adviser Samantha Power; and the U.S.
Most Americans only ever hear about the director of national intelligence (DNI) when the person who holds the job happens to stick his foot in his mouth. Take Dennis Blair, President Obama’s first pick for the position, who landed in hot water when he proposed Chas Freeman—a former adviser to a Chinese national oil company who asserted that U.S. interests were being subverted by Israel’s Likud Party—to chair the National Intelligence Council.
On the evening of Saturday, June 13, a day after the Iranian presidential election, Vice President Joe Biden was preparing for an appearance the next morning on NBC's "Meet the Press." Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian incumbent, was already claiming a preposterously large margin of victory, and reformist protesters were clashing with basiij thugs in Tehran. The Obama administration faced a delicate and fluid situation, and it was far from clear what Biden should say. In circumstances like these, the vice president--especially this vice president--could not simply wing it.