A WordWe’d like to have A Word with you. In The Root’s op-ed video series, thought leaders across various disciplines give their perspectives on the important issues you should know about.

Susan Rice is most famously known as Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, but her decades of public service go well beyond that. In her new book, “Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For,” Rice talks about growing up in Washington, D.C., and how influential her parents were in her life. During a 45-minute interview with The Root, Rice discussed her thoughts on Donald Trump, her conversation with former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, Edward Snowden (whom she views as a traitor), white nationalism and other topics in the news cycle.

But we also learn a lot about Rice personally, and how her sacrifice for country impacted her family life. She shared how the media attacks against her over the Benghazi tragedy of 2012 impacted the health of her young daughter, who was watching the news reports every day.

“She came to us in the middle of all this and said, ‘You know, mom and dad, I’m seeing men come out of walls at me and talk to me and it’s scary.’ And we thought, ‘What in God’s name is she talking about?’ And it kept happening and we all we were scared and deeply concerned and obviously took her to doctors and ultimately to Children’s Hospital in Washington to be tested for a variety of things because the doctors said this could be psychosis, it could be a brain tumor, it could be something really badly wrong with her vision and we just can’t tell what it is until we do a whole battery of tests, which they did over the course of a couple of weeks,” Rice told the Root.

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“Thankfully, they ruled out the worst-case scenarios and that left (the doctors) to conclude that what was most likely happening was that she was experiencing a stress reaction to what she was seeing and hearing on television and elsewhere as I was being attacked for my role in discussing Benghazi in September 2012 on the Sunday shows. So the lesson there is that you know whatever your job you still have to deal with the people you love most and you are responsible to them first and foremost.”

Rice also served as an assistant secretary of state when two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down in Somalia during a military operation in 1993 that left 18 U.S. soldiers dead. Images of the soldiers bodies being dragged and hung in the streets of Mogadishu prompted Republicans in Congress to press then-newly elected President Bill Clinton to withdraw troops from the country within six months, a hasty move Rice says was dangerous and unwise.

The lesson she learned from that is this: when Congress wants to act, it will.

Normally the president has great latitude except in black and white declarations of war and peace to conduct foreign policy and secure the United States. But the important lesson I learned is that when Congress decides to engage and to insert itself international disparate security decision making it can. And that’s a really interesting lesson for today’s times when we think about the fact that in President Trump unfortunately we have a president who is using the power of the Oval Office the power of the presidency and his authority as commander in chief as he is engaging with countries whether it’s Ukraine or Russia or China to advance not the national interest of the United States but his personal political interests or perhaps financial interests.

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This is a moment today where Congress could make a difference if they were determined and united. And the problem is they’re neither determined nor especially United.

Watch the video above for the full interview.

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About the author

Terrell Jermaine Starr

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior reporter at The Root. He is currently writing a book proposal that analyzes US-Russia relations from a black perspective.

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