U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice responded this past week to criticism from the last administration's spokesman at the United Nations that she has been "wildly inattentive" in her first year on the job.
Richard Grenell, who served eight years in the Bush administration as spokesman for four U.S. ambassadors at the U.N., wrote Monday on the Huffington Post that Rice has been more active "in the social scene of Washington and the White House" than at the U.N., as suggested by a Security Council Report study that notes a marked decrease in activity at the Security Council over the past year.
"For an Administration that promised to utilize the UN and improve our reputation around the world, its dinner-party circuit strategy isn't making America more secure," Grenell wrote.
The former spokesman continued:
"Rice has been spending several days a week in Washington with her larger than normal DC-based staff and spending less time with the 200-plus employees who work for her in New York. While Rice launched her tenure with a glamour spread in Vogue Magazine by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz showing her kicking back in an empty Security Council Chamber, she seems to not enjoy the Chamber when it's full of diplomats. During the recent Haiti crisis, Rice was not only absent from the Security Council vote to expand the UN's peacekeeping operation but she also failed to call an emergency meeting in the immediate aftermath to request more help. In fact, 7 days after the Haiti earthquake left tens of thousands of people in the streets without food or shelter, it was UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that came to the Security Council to request more troops - the American Ambassador hadn't bothered."
Grenell also crticized Rice for not being able to further sanctions against Iran despite missed deadlines over its nuclear program.
Rice was asked about the charges by a reporter the next day.
"I haven't had an opportunity to read Mr. Grenell's Huffington Post piece, so I can't comment on it specifically," the ambassador responded. "But let me say this. I am pleased to serve as the U.S. Perm Rep to the United Nations as well as a member of President Obama's Cabinet and a principal on his National Security Council. I am typically in New York, and have been over the past year, about four days a week, Monday through Thursday, and in Washington more often than not on Fridays. When I am here in New York I participate in the deliberations of the National Security Council, when I am in Washington I am doing my UN job.
"And frankly, I think that when we are in negotiations with partners on the Security Council, when I speak for the Administration, whether behind closed doors in consultations or in private - there's an understanding among my colleagues that I am speaking authoritatively as one of the President's senior advisers, and I think that frankly, very much enhances our ability to get things done, and I think the record speaks for itself," Rice continued.
Rice reiterated that the U.S. had a "very productive year" at the Security Council with "substantive accomplishments."