Susan Rice: Another Do-Little Obama Appointee

Like many of her cohorts in the Obama administration, U.N. Permanent Representative Susan Rice seems to spend more time gallivanting around the Washington, D.C. social scene than doing any actual productive work. A report from Richard Grennel, who served as official spokesman for the U.N. Ambassador during the entire eight years of George Bush's term in the White House, suggests that Dr. Rice spends more time channeling her inner Desiree Rogers than forcing direction at the U.N. Security Council.

Rice has been more active 'in the social scene of Washington and the White House' than at the U.N., as suggested by a Security Council Report study that notes a marked decrease in activity at the Security Council over the past year. 

Desiree Rogers, of course, is the Obamas' Social Secretary, described in The Huffington Post as "preening and self-indulgent, lording it over her table at the [first Obama official] state dinner, while ignoring her own mundane duties such as ensuring that someone from her office was at the Secret Service check-point." While Rogers was enjoying herself, a pair of crashers successfully eluded White House security and actually posed with the President for photos.

There seems to be a pattern here: Perhaps B.O.'s staffing decisions revolve around establishing the best group of partiers in Washington, D.C. regardless of their previous accomplishments or proclivity for work. Lord knows that B.O. and his Chicago bride love to party. In fact, the Obamas were spending so much time and money partying at the White House that the watchdog group Freedom Watch sought information just two months into the budding B.O. term regarding how much federal money was being spent helping keep the Obamas and their pals in bubbly. Finally, last week, the White House announced the elimination of the weekly cocktail party.

So what about Grennel's claim regarding Susan Rice? In her own defense, Rice claims that the U.S. had a "very productive year" with "substantive accomplishments" at the Security Council. 

That depends on how one defines the word substantive. Perhaps the most important function of the U.N. Ambassador should be helping determine the focus of the Security Council.  But rather than stressing Council concentration on the world's most pressing security questions -- the nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea, for instance, or the urgent need to address violent jihadi terrorism -- it appears that Ms. Rice, if anything, helped direct the Council to address issues revolving around her pet projects in Africa. Rice served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under Clinton. A review of the resolutions passed by the U.N. Security Council in 2009 finds an incredible 43% of the resolutions passed by the Council last year were focused on Africa. One resolution was passed relating to North Korean nuclear proliferation, and none regarding Iran. 

Substantive indeed. Mr. Gellner sees little redeeming effort or results from the aloof-like-Obama Rice:

Rice has been spending several days a week in Washington with her larger than normal DC-based staff and spending less time with the 200-plus employees who work for her in New York. While Rice launched her UN tenure with a glamour spread in Vogue Magazine by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz showing her kicking back in an empty Security Council Chamber, she seems to not enjoy the Chamber when it's full of diplomats. During the recent Haiti crisis, Rice was not only absent from the Security Council vote to expand the UN's peacekeeping operation, but she also failed to call an emergency meeting in the immediate aftermath to request more help. In fact, 7 days after the Haiti earthquake left tens of thousands of people in the streets without food or shelter, it was UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that came to the Security Council to request more troops -- the American Ambassador hadn't bothered.

The Ambassador's response to the charges speaks volumes about this incompetent administration and the attitude of its players:

... frankly, I think that when we are in negotiations with partners on the Security Council, when I speak for the Administration, whether behind closed doors in consultations or in private -- there's an understanding among my colleagues that I am speaking authoritatively as one of the President's senior advisers, and I think that frankly, very much enhances our ability to get things done, and I think the record speaks for itself.

Only an unrepentant academician with Obama dust in her eyes would believe that speaking for Obama equates with getting something done. The record does speak for itself, and unless we believe that America's security interests are better served by focusing on the Western Sahara, the Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone than with confronting the still-determined Axis of Evil, perhaps we had better get serious about  either finding a new U.N. Ambassador or simply shutting our entire U.N. effort down.

Ralph Alter blogs at Right on Target.