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47 former top diplomats defend Susan Rice against 'inept' criticism

47 former top diplomats defend Susan Rice against 'inept' criticism
© Anne Wernikoff

Dozens of former diplomats who worked with former national security adviser Susan Rice defended her after a Monday column from The New York Times’s Bret Stephens called her “inept” and a “sycophant to despots.”

The open letter, obtained by Axios on Friday, 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.”

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Rice 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.

The letter describes her as a “team player” and praises 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.”

Rice, who was a finalist to be presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Five things to know about Georgia's Senate runoffs MORE vice presidential pick, has long been a target of criticism from conservatives. She was in the running to replace Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Groups seek to get Black vote out for Democrats in Georgia runoffs Biden's political position is tougher than Trump's MORE as secretary of State but withdrew her name from consideration following the 2012 Benghazi attacks.

Conservatives have also criticized her over the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran and the administration's policy with regard to Syria. 

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In his column, Stephens slammed Rice as a “diplomatic disaster.”

“She has been a sycophant to despots. She has been inept in her diplomacy. She has played politics with human rights and played realpolitik with the truth,” Stephens wrote. “There are potential running mates who can broaden the appeal of Biden’s candidacy — and protect it against attack. Rice isn’t one of them.”

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden announces all-female White House communications team Biden to nominate Neera Tanden, Cecilia Rouse to economic team: WSJ Memo to Biden: Go big — use the moment to not only rebuild but to rebuild differently MORE (D-Calif.) was ultimately chosen as Biden’s running mate on Tuesday, a decision Rice coined as a “great choice.”

“She's going to make a tremendous running mate for Joe Biden,” Rice said. “I'm very confident that the Biden-Harris ticket will be a winning one.”