Earlier this week, June and I had the privilege of hearing Susan Rice interviewed in Kansas City. As many of you will remember, she was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nation from 2009 to 2013 and then the U.S. National Security Advisor from 2013 until 2017.
|Susan Rice speaking in|
Kansas City on Oct. 22
Rice’s Tough Love
Susan Rice (b. 1964) was in Kansas City largely to promote her new book Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For (which I frugally checked out of the library rather than purchasing for $30).
Although the entire book would certainly be worth reading, to this point I have only read the Prologue, the encouraging last chapter titled “Bridging the Divide,” and the parts on Syria (primarily pages 362~9). It is mainly the latter that I am referring to in this article.
DJT’s Position on Syria
Back in April 2017, a few days after the U.S. launched 59 Tomahawk missiles on western Syria, I posted a blog article titled “A ‘Syrious’ Matter” (and was told by a Thinking Friend that “it's probably best not to use a pun in the title”).
I did have serious doubts about the wisdom of that missile attack. Fortunately, though, it did not lead to the dire consequences I feared it might. Then in a tweet last week (on 10/20), DJT touted his action against Syria: “I did something, 58 missiles.” (The news reports all gave the number as 59, but why quibble over a missile or two?)
In that same tweet, DJT wrote, “Pelosi is now leading a delegation of 9 . . . to Jordan to check out Syria. She should find out why Obama drew The Red Line in the Sand, & then did NOTHING, LOSING Syria & all respect. . . . One million died under Obama’s mistake!”
Two days earlier, DJT tweeted: “Susan Rice, who was a disaster to President Obama as National Security Advisor, is now telling us her opinion on what to do in Syria. Remember RED LINE IN THE SAND?” That was Obama. Millions killed! No thanks Susan, you were a disaster.”
But last December, DJT suddenly announced that he was withdrawing all U.S. military forces from Syria. The situation there is still in considerable flux, but it seems that DJT’s startling announcement is of considerable benefit to Syrian President Assad—and to Russian President Putin.
Clearly that announcement, sadly, means manifest danger to the Kurds.
Rice’s Position on Syria
When President Obama announced in August 2013 his decision not to take action against Syria—despite what he had said about a red line—his National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, disagreed, the lone dissenter among Obama’s closest advisors.
In her book, though, Rice admits, “Without the use of force, we ultimately achieved a better outcome than I had imagined” (p. 365). And then despite her initial position, she concludes, “I believe we were correct not to become more deeply involved militarily in Syria” (p. 369).
Even though Obama then, and up until now, has been repeatedly criticized for not acting on his “red line” position, I thought then and even more so now that he was correct—and I was happy to hear Rice came to that same conclusion.
But DJT’s recent tweets are ludicrous. Millions were certainly not killed because the U.S. did not use military force against Syria, force that could have led to major military conflict with Russia. There is no evidence that Obama made a mistake by his lack of action.
On the other hand, it now seems clear that DJT has made a major mistake in removing U.S. troops from northeastern Syria--and Susan Rice’s serious thinking and recent remarks about Syria are far superior to those of the current President.