Susan Rice was one of the top foreign-policy advisors on Barack Obama's presidential campaign. A fierce advocate for her candidate, the former Brookings Institution fellow and Clinton-era assistant secretary of state for African affairs was a frequent presence on cable television and a go-to source of quotes for reporters.
Seven months into the job as Obama's ambassador to the United Nations and a month before the annual U.N. General Assembly opening, Rice plans to deliver a speech Wednesday night at an event cosponsored by New York University's Center for Global Affairs and its Center on International Cooperation. In her address, a Rice advisor tells Foreign Policy, the U.N. ambassador plans to detail how the Obama administration is changing the U.S. relationship with the world, and how, as part of that new direction, it is dramatically altering its approach to the United Nations. In turn, the advisor says, the speech will explain how those changes advance U.S. interests and make Americans safer.
"Today, as we steer a new course at the United Nations, our guiding principles are clear: We value the U.N. as a vehicle for advancing U.S. policies and priorities, and universal values," Rice's prepared remarks state. "We work for change from within rather than criticizing from the sidelines. We stand firm in defense of America's interests and values, but we don't dissent just to be contrary. We listen to states great and small. We build coalitions. We meet our responsibilities. We pay our bills. We push for real reform. And we remember that in an interconnected world, what's good for others is often good for America as well."
The speech, crafted by Rice and senior policy advisor Warren Bass, echoes those given recently at the six-month mark by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, and other cabinet heads. Rice will likely further raise her public profile next month when the U.N. General Assembly opens its annual session in New York in September, with the United States presiding over the Security Council for the month.
Since taking the job, Rice has been consumed with responsibilities ranging from U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea, to the sentencing Tuesday of Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi to 18 months' detention, to a resolution passed last month related to sexual violence, a major subject of Clinton's visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo this week.
U.S. officials have signaled recently that if Iran hasn't positively responded to the offer to engage on its nuclear program by the General Assembly opening, they plan to start pushing for a harsher set of international sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic -- a push that Rice would likely be a key player in shaping.
Foreign-policy watchers will be looking out for Rice's comments on the situation in Darfur, a subject on which she has long been active.
Rice is scheduled to deliver her address Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Greenberg Lounge in Vanderbilt Hall, NYU School of Law.
UPDATE: Rice's remarks as delivered can be found here.
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