Kerry and Rice: The Washington Bait and Switch

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Over the past few weeks several otherwise reasonable foreign policy “realists” around Washington have been — mostly in behind the scenes discussion groups — hoping against hope that the Susan Rice float to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would crash and burn. They even took some comfort in the McCain/Graham tag-team to lambaste Rice over her agreeing to bamboozle the public with some bogus talking points about the Benghazi incident, where a US ambassador and several CIA contractors were killed by one of the many militias who have with NATO help turned Libya into a murderous mafia state. No doubt most of these sober thinkers understood that the two senators were grandstanding in the extreme but as the blows were landed they enjoyed the sight of blood.

They whispered among themselves, “Please make it Kerry or Hagel. Anyone but Susan Rice!”

In fact what no doubt really happened was some variation on an old Washington trick: float by proxies a name sure to attract controversy and opposition as a lightening rod; hang the not-yet-officially named candidate out to be struck repeatedly by the lightening until the rabid opponents have exhausted themselves after a good dose of substance-free criticism; then, when the smoke clears, announce the candidate intended all along, whose record and policies are in fact nearly identical to the lightening rod candidate but who will by virtue of appearing after the bloviators have blown themselves out sail through the process. Everyone congratulates himself after the exercise in Washington operetta: the critics who can report that they sunk an unacceptable candidate and the administration who will have a candidate nearly identical in approach but with an extended period of immunity from criticism.

Kerry, a lugubrious faux patrician, is in many ways the anti-Rice. He couldn’t even get excited about running for the presidency, so the president could be forgiven for hoping to end the hyperactive whispering in his ear at all hours on the glories of “humanitarian interventionism.” But despite differences of style, on all major issues Kerry is more like Rice than not. He loves the empire and serves it enthusiastically. After Rice’s Benghazi defenestration, first job is to save the policy.

Some critics rightly point out that Rice’s repeating the administration’s Benghazi lies were not the reason she should have been disqualified, but in that they miss the point: by taking the fall over the relatively minor Benghazi affair, where Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate played exactly the expected role (“It was the other party’s fault”), the larger issue of Libya and the full and unfolding nature of that disaster can be swept under the carpet. Including the US facilitation of massive weapons transfers from Gaddafi’s captured arsenals to the US-supported rebels in Syria (which likely had far more to do with the killing of Ambassador Stevens than a phony Muslim-bashing film psy-op).

So Rice is out because she read some talking points prepared by the government to obfuscate rather than explain to the American people what was really happening in Libya. Stop the presses!

And in comes Kerry, whose record of support for US military interventionism everywhere and anywhere if anything surpasses even Rice’s enthusiasm for “hard power.”

He not only supported the US attack in Libya, he joined with John McCain to introduce legislation to grant the president permission to attack (permission the president neither sought nor desired from Congress). Quoth Kerry at the time: “By supporting this resolution, we tell Arabs young and old that the United States is willing to make tough decisions and spend our tax dollars to help ensure your freedom.” Gee, thanks.

He even penned a piece in the Wall Street Journal repeating all the neo-con and interventionist talking points about Libya, most of which, as in Iraq, turned out to be utter lies when all was said and done. Like this: “We didn’t choose this fight; it was forced on us, starting with 9/11.”

Yes indeed. We had to support al-Qaeda-affiliated rebels in Libya because al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11.

Kerry supports a full-blown US attack on Syria, not just Obama’s half-measures of sending weapons to the US-backed terrorists seeking to overthrow the sectarian Syrian government.

And, as the Jerusalem Post gleefully announced a couple of years ago, “Kerry backs ‘biting’ sanctions against Iran’s energy sector.” In fact he has never met a sanction against Iran that he does not like.

True he opposed the surge in Iraq, but many Democrats did likewise not because they wanted the troops to come home but rather preferred them to be freed up for other “good wars” like Afghanistan.

So Rice is out, Kerry is in. And the same interventionist foreign policy, drone warfare, and suicidal obsession with controlling the rest of the world continues apace. Is this really something to get excited about?

9:22 am on December 17, 2012