By Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
All U.S. United Nations ambassadors sit in a perpetual hot seat. That comes with the assignment and to be periodically involved in public controversies is not out of the ordinary. Yet with the growing unprincipled and ultra-partisan attacks on the integrity, intelligence and competence of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, those who believe in freedom, justice, and equality cannot sit back and be silent in the face of these putrid political and undeserved personal attacks on the good character and reputation of Ambassador Rice.
Even though Rice has been one of the most effective and articulate U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations in recent memory, Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina are leading the misguided campaign against Ambassador Rice in the wake of the controversies surrounding the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. We all mourn the loss of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and the other three Americans killed in Benghazi. Those responsible for the killings should be brought to justice.
But instead of demanding that an emphasis be put on finding and apprehending those responsible for the violence, Republicans have a contrived fixation on besmirching the leadership and character of Ambassador Rice. The question is why? What are the Republicans really trying to achieve by continuing their political campaign to tarnish the good name of Ambassador Rice?
Both McCain and Graham have announced their opposition to the possibility of President Barack Obama nominating Rice to serve as the next U.S. Secretary of State. Graham stated, “I don’t trust her. I think she was a political choice, telling a political narrative, and either she didn’t know the truth about Benghazi—so she shouldn’t have been on T.V. – or she was spinning it…… I don’t think that’s a good resume to be Secretary of State.”
McCain claimed, “My judgment at this time is that four Americans were killed, and the information that our U.N. ambassador conveyed was clearly false…. There was overwhelming evidence that it was completely false. And she should have known what the situation and circumstances were and not tell the world on all Sunday morning talk shows.”
The fact is, however, on those Sunday morning talk shows after the tragedy in Benghazi, Ambassador Rice reported exactly and accurately the information that she had been given by U.S. intelligence officials at the early stages of the investigative analysis. This information was well known by McCain and Graham, yet they have persisted in attempting to undermine both President Obama and Ambassador Rice.
It is as if that McCain, Graham, Romney and many other Republicans are still sore losers because of the outcome of the 2012 national elections. President Obama stated, “But when they go after the U.N. ambassador, apparently because they think she’s an easy target, then they’ve got a problem with me…. If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me – and I’m happy to have that discussion with them.”
Ambassador Rice also made it clear, “When discussing the attack against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community …. I made clear that the information was preliminary, and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers.”
President Obama should continue to stand up for Ambassador Rice with strong fervor and renewed determination not to be sidetracked from pushing his national and international agenda forward. As the president contemplates his new cabinet, certainly Ambassador Rice should be considered for further duty. In fact, the recent controversies have only resulted in making Ambassador Rice as stronger diplomat and public servant loyal and committed to the president’s leadership and direction. During the next four years, it is obvious that the forces of backwardness and regression will have to be challenged vigorously.
We support President Barack Obama and we stand with Ambassador Rice today and into the future. Now is the time for strong leadership domestically and internationally.
American politics needs more balance from the opposition party, but it clear that the Republicans have yet to repent.