Without getting too political, this exemplifies one of my main concerns about partisanship and how it can make otherwise good people act stupid. Benghazi has become so politicized that we may not be asking the real questions about Rice’s competence in many other areas where she has a public service record. Take the example of Rwanda, where Stearns points out what he sees as Ambassador Rice’s major failure.
The question is not whether Rwanda is the Beelzebub or the savior of Central Africa; it is neither. But given the gravity of the crisis, and the significant support the United States was providing to the Rwandan government, simply giving Kigali a pass for repeated mass abuses was unacceptable and sent the wrong signal. To suggest, as Howard Wolpe, the U.S. special envoy to the region did to me, reflecting on this period years later, “We just didn’t know what was going on, most of the reports about abuses were coming from the Catholic Church and we didn’t know what to make of them,” is not convincing. A complex tragedy deserved a nuanced response.