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No, Susan Rice Didn’t Support The Iraq War

If Joe Biden takes my advice and chooses Susan Rice to be his running mate, then there will be criticism from people who opposed the Iraq War. That's because if you Google "Susan Rice" and "Iraq War," you will find several sources, including Wikipedia, that say she supported it. Let me try to save critics and journalists from that error by setting the record straight.

From everything I've been able to find, Rice did not support the Iraq War. She opposed it, in a show of wise and independent judgment.

I came by this information by falling victim to these sources and including a line in a recent column saying she endorsed the invasion. Shortly after it appeared online, I got a nice email from her press spokesperson, Erin Pelton, thanking me for the column but informing me that Rice opposed the war.

This came as a surprise. I asked for documentation but wasn't convinced by the information she sent. I talked with Pelton by phone; she said she would see what else she could find.

Then, Rice called and explained, in a gracious and congenial way, how frustrating this "urban legend" has been for her. She recounted her thinking, assured me that colleagues from the Brookings Institution, where she worked at the time, would back her up, and said, with a laugh, "I'll swear on a stack of Bibles!" Unsure what to think, and with the deadline for the Tribune's print edition looming, I deleted the reference.

Later, I contacted Michael O'Hanlon and Ivo Daalder, fellow foreign policy scholars who were at Brookings with Rice at the time. O'Hanlon told me, "Susan was consistently against it from 2002." Daalder concurred: "Susan was definitely against the war."

Their memories confirm what Rice wrote in her memoir, Tough Love: "From the start, I viewed that war of choice as a dangerous diversion from the main objective of defeating al-Qaida globally and in Afghanistan." She served as an adviser to Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign "because he was the only leading Democratic candidate to oppose the Iraq War." She signed up with Barack Obama in 2008 because he also opposed it.

But she got falsely tagged as a supporter of the war, and the stain has refused to come out, mainly because of two statements that have been misinterpreted.

In a December 2002 interview on NPR, she said: "It's clear that Iraq poses a major threat. It's clear that its weapons of mass destruction need to be dealt with forcefully, and that's the path we're on. I think the question becomes whether we can keep the diplomatic balls in the air and not drop any, even as we move forward, as we must, on the military side."

But O'Hanlon notes: "The military options she alludes to are not specified. For the Clinton administration, they were typically airstrikes or cruise missile strikes of limited duration and effect, not invasions."

Rice also endorsed the idea of "regime change." But there is less there than meets the eye. Bill Clinton signed a bill making it U.S. policy to "support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime." But he didn't think the cause called for a U.S. invasion. The point was to encourage Iraqis to do the job.

In that December interview, Rice also said: "The administration frankly owes the American public a much fuller and more honest assessment of what the costs will be of the actual conflict, as well as the aftermath, the post-conflict reconstruction. And the costs are going to be huge."

Rice didn't oppose the invasion as boldly and unequivocally as some did. Peter Beinart of The Daily Beast said he listened to interviews she did before the war and concluded, "I still can't tell whether Susan Rice supported the war or opposed it." But being cautious and circumspect is not the same thing as supporting the war.

Why does all this matter? First, because the Iraq War was the biggest foreign policy catastrophe since Vietnam, and one most experts endorsed. Second, because Rice had to know her views carried a real risk. Most Democratic senators voted for the war resolution — including Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Had the outcome been a glorious triumph, her opposition might have doomed her from serving in another administration.

A lot of smart, knowledgeable people made the mistake of endorsing the Iraq War. Susan Rice deserves credit for not being one of them.

Steve Chapman blogs at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman. Follow him on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Governors Plead With Trump For Dwindling Hospital Supplies

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

As President Donald Trump’s administration has repeatedly botched the response to the coronavirus crisis, he has tried to avoid taking responsibility for key aspects of the emergency management and shift it to others. In particular, he has tried to encourage state governors to manage their own crises, even as they often lack the resources wielded by the federal government.

“Governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work,” Trump said on Thursday at a White House press briefing, referring, in part, to the acquisition of hospital supplies. “The federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items, and then shipping. We’re not a shipping clerk. As with testing — the governors are supposed to be doing it.”

This echoed his previous remarks to governors on a conference call Monday, according to the New York Times.

“Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — trying getting it yourselves,” Trump reportedly said. “We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better — much more direct if you can try getting it yourselves.”

And of course, the failure of the U.S. testing regime was the original sin of the Covid-19 crisis in the country; it’s no surprise that Trump is now trying to avoid responsibility.

But officials are pushing back, explaining why Trump’s plan isn’t working.

“We took very seriously the push you made previously on one of these calls that we should not just rely on the stockpile and that we should go out and buy stuff and put in orders, and try to create pressure on manufacturers and distributors,” said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on a Thursday conference call. “And I’ve got to tell you, on three big orders, we lost to the feds. So my question is: Could you give some of these guys some guidance that says, you know, if states are doing what the feds want, and trying to create their own supply chain on this, then people should be responsive to that? Because I’ve got a feeling that if somebody has a chance to sell to you or has a chance to sell to me, I’m going to lose every one of those.”

Trump had no answer to this question and just directed Vice President Mike Pence to respond. Pence, too, had no real response.

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, too, pointed out the gaping hole in Trump’s “leave it to the states” plan.

“States, left to their own devices, can’t solve this. Maximum utility is not achieved by 50 different responses,” Murphy said in a tweet, responding to the president’s remarks on Thursday. “For instance, what if one state has a major manufacturer who can immediately produce thousands of masks. That state’s incentive is to hoard and protect, not share.”

The core problem is that the federal government has the resources and the authority to coordinate and respond to the growing crisis across the country, but Trump has been unwilling or unable to marshal the forces needed to respond to the demands of the situation.

Susan Rice, the former ambassador to the United Nations under President Barack Obama, lashed out at the president on Twitter on Wednesday for being reluctant to use the Defense Production Act to manufacture needed medical supplies.

Ex-NSC Aide Rice Demolishes Trump Claim Nobody Foresaw Pandemic

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice under President Barack Obama unloaded on President Donald Trump’s disastrous response to the unfurling coronavirus pandemic.

In an on-air interview with CNN, Rice took issue with Trump’s claim that no one could have foreseen the crisis.

“We knew that this was a serious and impending risk,” she said. “That’s why, under the Obama administration, we set up, I set up — with Lisa Monaco in the White House, in the National Security Council, an office for global health security and biodefense. We staffed it with a senior person and made sure that they could report directly to the national security adviser and the homeland security adviser. Two years ago, that office was dismantled.”

She continued: “In the last week of the Obama administration, we had an exercise with the incoming leadership of the Trump administration. We sat down, for hours, side by side, and one of the key scenarios we ran with them was very much this one: What happens when you have a global pandemic of this sort?”

As the New York Times reported, she noted, the Trump administration ran through exercises as recently as last year that demonstrated that the country wasn’t prepared for a pandemic. But nothing was done to address the gaping holes in the system.

She blasted Trump for repeatedly claiming: “Who could have imagined this? Who could have predicted this? We had no idea this could come!”

“Well, that’s just false!” she said. “Not only did we know it could come, we should have prepared for it to come. As we did in the Obama administration, and as we gave them the wherewithal to do in the Trump administration.”

Watch the clip below.

#EndorseThis: Newt Gingrich – Yes, Newt Gingrich – Calls BS On Fox & Friends

Don’t worry folks, your daily dose of #EndorseThis is not turning Republican. Even if it were, we wouldn’t give much airtime to Newt Gingrich, former GOP Speaker of the House whose bogus “Contract with America” was voided almost two decades ago.

But credit where credit is due. In today’s clip, Gingrich tells President Trump’s giddy gang of groveling groupies — also known as Fox & Friends — that the so-called Susan Rice email “scandal” is a nothing-burger.

Newt defends Obama’s former National Security Advisor as innocent, if career-oriented. “Someday she’s writing a memoir and she just wanted to have (the document),” he tells a stunned trio of Trumpers. “It’s happened to me.”

Click to hear the Fox hosts squirm and stutter in response. You can almost see their tinfoil hats crinkle and fall off…if only for a moment.