For John, BLUF: Do we have a foreign policy? Nothing to see here; just move along.
Over at The Washington Post, OpEd Writer Richard Cohen takes on National Security Advisor Susan Rice for her performance on the Sunday news show, Meet the Press. He also criticizes Interviewer David Gregory for weak followup.
Susan Rice ought to stay off “Meet the Press.” The last time she was on, she misrepresented what led to the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya. On Sunday she was back, this time misrepresenting critics of the Obama administration’s Syria policy. Last time her misrepresentation was unintentional. This time it wasn’t. I prefer it, though, when she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.The rest of the article is just as well written and gets into the issue of national disintegration around the world, an issue that the United States should be interested in a deep way. However, I should not just lift the story wholesale. But, Mr Cohen has done an excellent job examining the territory here. As we all know, "you gotta know the territory".
In a frustrating colloquy with host David Gregory, Rice initially said all the right things about Syria. She called the war there “horrific,” which indeed it is. She said it had “spilled over and infused the neighboring states,” which indeed it has. And she said the United States had “every interest in trying to bring this conflict to a conclusion.” Yes. Yes, indeed.
“But if the alternative here is to intervene with American boots on the ground, as some have argued, I think that the judgment the United States has made and the president of the United States has made is that is not in the United States’ interests,” she continued.
Gregory, usually as alert and twitchy as a squirrel, flat-lined. He did not ask Rice who, precisely, advocated boots on the ground. He did not ask her to name just one prominent critic or to wonder why this is “the alternative” when there are so many others. He just pushed on, leaving this straw man to crinkle and crackle under the hot TV lights and allowing Rice, who is the president’s national security adviser, to get away with rebutting an argument that has not been made. She did, though, exhibit an administration mind-set — all or nothing — that, in practice, amounts to nothing.
Rice’s was a splendid performance, characteristic of an administration that values the sound of policy over its implementation. But it bore directly on another urgent foreign policy problem confronting Washington and the world: Ukraine. Of course the revolution in that country was discussed, and Rice warned Russia not to resort to force, saying that would be “a grave mistake.” She declared the United States on the side of the Ukrainian people, an airy but prudent generalization. This will have to do for the moment.
Regards — Cliff