Former American diplomats on Friday released an unprecedented letter defending former U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice after a columnist made false allegations against her in the New York Times.
A Monday column from The New York Times’s Bret Stephens triggered outrage after it described Rice as “inept” and a “sycophant to despots.”
The conservative columnist claimed that Rice made serious blunders as assistant secretary of state for African affairs in the Clinton administration between 1997 and 2001. Stephens claimed that Rice “played politics with human rights”.
But many diplomats who worked with Rice across the world and in Africa rebutted the column in a letter, describing it as ignorant.
The letter was signed by 47 diplomats, including many former ambassadors to African countries and political appointees from both parties.
“One of the usual victims in the politics of personal assassination is the truth,” the diplomats wrote. “This phenomenon holds in the current extrajudicial ‘trial’ of Susan Rice. Her record is being examined with a microscope and a telescope, at times refracting the light so completely that original facts become completely obscured.”
Rice, who served as assistant secretary of State for African affairs in the Clinton administration before serving as former President Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations and then national security adviser, returned to the national spotlight recently as a potential running mate to Joe Biden.
Rice, who was just 32 years old when she became assistant secretary of state, is now seen as a leading contender for a top job in a potential Biden administration.
The former diplomats in their open letter described her as a tireless diplomat, strong leader and “the catalyst for a foreign policy that sought to put Africa on equal footing with the rest of the world.”
“Her record is being examined with a microscope and a telescope, at times refracting the light so completely that original facts become completely obscured,” they wrote.
The diplomats said she is a “team player” and praised her for caring deeply about both Africans and Americans, saying she was “effective in bringing peace, prosperity and democracy to the continent.”
“She encouraged divergent views, and built consensus with her team, at the White House and with the Congress,” the letter states. “In doing so she became the catalyst for a foreign policy that sought to put Africa on equal footing with the rest of the world.”