Po­lit­i­cal de­bate pits Right against Left

Con­doleezza Rice, Su­san Rice dis­cuss in­ter­na­tional af­fairs

The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY) - - Front Page - By Charles Pritchard cpritchard@onei­dadis­patch.com

CLIN­TON, N.Y. » Two for­eign pol­icy vet­er­ans from op­po­site sides of the po­lit­i­cal aisle agreed Wed­nes­day that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion lacks lever­age to im­pose its will in Syria.

In a de­bate at Hamil­ton Col­lege, former Sec­re­tary of State Con­doleezza Rice and former Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Su­san Rice said there was no clear path as ten­sions grow over al­leged use of poi­son gas by the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment, a sit­u­a­tion com­pli­cated by Rus­sian sup­port for Syria.

Moder­at­ing the de­bate was NBC’s Chief For­eign Af­fairs Cor­re­spon­dent An­drea Mitchell, who opened the ap­pear­ance by ask­ing what the best course of ac­tion was in Syria.

Su­san Rice, who served un­der Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, said there were re­ally no good an­swers to the ques­tions and noted that Obama did not want to use mil­i­tary force in Syria. Pres­i­dent Trump, she noted, did hit Syria with mis­siles af­ter the gov­ern­ment there used poi­son gas, but Trump needed to use the lever­age cre­ated by that strike by fol­low­ing up with di­plo­macy.

Con­doleezza Rice, who served in the Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, agreed and added that dur­ing the Bush and Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, the United States did not have any lever­age in Syria and that Iran and Rus­sia now have the up­per hand there.

“The lever­age was there when Trump was first in of­fice and struck the Syr­ian bases,” Con­doleezza said.

When it came to Rus­sia, Con­doleezza in­sisted that Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin is get­ting away with hy­per­ven­ti­lat­ing rhetoric, but his na­tion is cur­rently de­clin­ing.

“Putin once said to me that Rus­sia has only been ruled by great men. But Rus­sia is de­clin­ing and they need an en­emy,” Con­doleezza said. “They have noth­ing go­ing for them but mil­i­tary. When’s the last time you saw some­thing that said ‘Made in Rus­sia’?”

Su­san Rice re­marked “vodka” and got a laugh out of both the crowd and Con­doleezza, but Con­doleezza coun­tered that even vodka is be­ing made more by the French.

They agreed on many top­ics, but voices were raised when the topic of the Iran nu­clear deal

came up and Trump’s com­ments about it be­ing the “worst deal in his­tory.”

Con­doleezza said that, while the Iran Deal has, for at least an­other eight years, stopped Iran from pro­duc­ing a nu­clear war­head, she be­lieves the U.S. was too quick to agree to the deal and could have got­ten the deal in per­pe­tu­ity with the right to in­spect on de­mand.

“This was not a deal done in a hurry,” Su­san re- sponded. “This deal was two and a half years of ne­go­ti­a­tion and stopped Iran from pur­chas­ing what was needed to pro­duce nu­clear weapons. And, if the U.S. backs out, it gives the Ira­ni­ans a path­way to re­turn un­fet­tered.”

“Obama ad­mit­ted Iran will be fur­ther along be­cause they can still do lab work,” Con­doleezza said. “How­long does it take if the U.S. wants to in­ves­ti­gate a site? Can the U.S. go to any site with­out any dis­pute?”

Su­san said if there is cred­i­ble ev­i­dence, a de­mand for in­spec­tion can be pre­sented to the Euro­pean par­ties to the deal.

The de­bate got espe­cially heated when Su­san Rice in­sisted there was no way for the in­spec­tors to eas­ily clean up op­er­a­tions be­fore an in­spec­tion, as Con­doleezza Rice in­sisted they could and added there are cam­eras in ev­ery nu­clear site Iran has.

“There are cam­eras in ev­ery site that we know of,” Con­doleezza said. “We could have got­ten the deal with snap in­spec­tion, you were in a strong po­si­tion.”

Both agreed that with­draw­ing from the deal at this point would be a mis­take.

Con­doleezza Rice served as the 66th sec­re­tary of state of the United States from 2005 to 2009, the second wo­man and first African-Amer­i­can wo­man to hold the post. From 1989 through March 1991, Rice served on Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush’s Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil staff. She is cur­rently the Den­ning Pro­fes­sor in Global Busi­ness and the Econ­omy at the Stan­ford Grad­u­ate School of Busi­ness, the Thomas and Bar­bara Stephenson Se­nior Fel­low on Public Pol­icy at the Hoover In­sti­tu­tion, and a pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity.

Su­san Rice served Pres­i­dent Barack Obama as U.S. Am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions from 2009 to 2013. From2013 to 2017, she served as Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser, lead­ing the diplo­matic, in­tel­li­gence, and de­vel­op­ment ex­perts of the NSC staff. Rice is cur­rently a Distin­guished Vis­it­ing Re­search Fel­low at the Amer­i­can Uni­ver­sity School of In­ter­na­tional Ser­vice and a non-res­i­dent se­nior fel­low at the Belfer Cen­ter for Sci­ence and In­ter­na­tional Af­fairs at Har­vard’s Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment. She is also a con­tribut­ing opin­ion writer for The New York Times.


Su­san Rice, left, An­drea Mitchell, cen­ter and Con­doleezza Rice at Hamil­ton Col­lege for de­bate on Wed­nes­day, April 11, 2018.


Hamil­ton Col­lege hosts the de­bate and peo­ple wait for Su­san Rice and Con­doleezza Rice on Wed­nes­day, April 11, 2018.

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