By Daniel Van Oudenaren
December 4, 2008 (WASHINGTON) – U.S. President-elect Barack Obama appointed a critic of the government of Sudan to the position of ambassador to the United Nations.
Susan Rice served in the Clinton administration at the National Security Council and in the State Department as the senior official for African affairs. She is not related to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The position will be elevated to a cabinet-level rank, Obama said Monday in Chicago.
Obama said that Rice shares “my belief that the UN is an indispensable—and imperfect—forum.”
Other senior members of the incoming administration were also outspoken critics of Sudan, including Vice President-elect Joe Biden, the Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton and the Commerce Secretary nominee Bill Richardson. But unlike these figures, Rice was not a political rival during the Democratic primary and she advised Obama in recent years while he held a position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
During the campaign she stated, “Six years of killing and maiming and the Sudanese government still is not facing any meaningful pressure from the United States or the international community. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that tougher sanctions combined with real assistance to help the UN-African Union peacekeeping force stand up and protect civilians is long overdue.”
But in earlier statements Rice had made clear that she believed the U.S. should take an even more exceptional role in the Sudan.
Writing in the Washington Post in 2006, she suggested that the U.S. Air Force and Navy undertake a bombing campaign and coastal blockade. The article was co-authored by Anthony Lake, another adviser to Obama, and Congressman Donald Payne.
Testifying to the Senate in April 2007 she stated, “unless the United States leads the world in halting the killing, it will remain a genocide.”
Soon after, she was published as the co-author of a book chapter in which she described the successive peacekeeping missions in Darfur as inadequate and endorsed an interventionist doctrine.
Speaking in February this year at the Brookings Institution, she appeared to endorse U.S. action to support a Chapter VII Resolution in the UN Security Council, and she said that Sudan should be given an ultimatum or face military action.
However, in July she indicated that U.S. did not necessarily need to make a direct military contribution to UNAMID.
Activist groups issued a statement Tuesday applauding Rice’s nomination, as well as those of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State and Retired Marine Corps General James Jones for National Security Advisor. Three key activist leaders stated, “millions of Americans will expect them to exert the energy and resources necessary to ensure that a lasting peace is forged, a credible protection force is established, and perpetrators are brought to justice.”
Accepting the nomination on Monday, Rice pledged to work with other nations to “prevent conflict, to promote peace, combat terrorism, prevent the spread and use of nuclear weapons, tackle climate change, end genocide, fight poverty and disease.”
Rice was raised in Washington D.C. and educated in the United States and the United Kingdom.