Who Susan Rice Will and Won’t Be Calling

Dayo Olopade at The Plank picks up Susan Rice’s 2007 post for Dispatch, and juxtaposes her outlook toward the crucial interconnectedness of poverty, disease, and conflict with the condescending skepticism of Heritage Senior Fellow Peter Brookes.


Now, the UN is good at lots of things, like handing out food and giving kids shots. [Laughter] You know, I’m not one to denigrate those things. What–they eradicated what, yellow fever in Africa by giving kids shots, that’s great. But we have to be a lot smarter about realizing its limitations, and that’s militarily. When you call in the UN you get a bunch of guys in uniforms standing around without guns, or they can’t use them unless it’s to defend themselves. I don’t believe in global federalism; I also don’t like the idea of the U.S. as the world’s policeman. But the UN is ineffective, period, at defense of any kind. So we need to look somewhere else.

Olopade then relays her conversation with Rice about whom she’ll be turning to for advice when she settles into her office at UN headquarters.

We chatted about Africa policy and World AIDS Day, on which both conferences took place. (Obama statement here.) I mentioned some of Brooke’s comments to her, which she took in stride, with a sort of “guess who’s in charge now” bemusement. Though she declined to speak on the record about UN policy, she again emphasized that she would take a radically different approach to the position, and mentioned wanting to call up former holders of the position for advice–with one notable exception: John Bolton.

It’s heartening to hear that Obama’s ambassador the UN won’t be seeking to learn how she can “lop off 10 floors of UN building in New York, [and] not make a difference.” Conversely, it’s equally reassuring that she will be looking to folks like former UN ambassador and seasoned diplomat Thomas Pickering, whose interview with Mark is below.

(image from flickr user aussiegall under a Creative Commons license)