Robert Friedman

The former ambassador didn't even like the United Nations. Can Susan Rice repair America's relationship with the rest of the world?

In ordinary times, the appointment of the first female black ambassador to the U.N. would be news in and of itself. But during a year marked by the election of the first black president, and with significant challenges present in every corner of the international community, these are no ordinary times.Indeed, Susan Rice's arrival at the U.N. came during the midst of a worldwide economic downturn, rapid climate change, American troops stretched thin in two foreign wars, potential nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran, instability in the Middle East and in a nuclear-armed Pakistan, and a brutal American consumer-fueled Mexican drug war. The need for assertive American leadership in the international community has rarely been greater.But America's image has been severely tarnished in the eyes of the rest of the world under the Bush administration. After the controversial buildup to the Iraq war, America added insult to injury when John Bolton-a man who once claimed that "there is no United Nations" and that "if (the U.N. Secretariat building in New York) lost ten stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference,"-became ambassador to the U.N. Ambassador Rice has said her goal is to "set a very different tone to signal to the world that America is back and that we want to lead in a way that can be trusted and respected."By most accounts, Rice is more than capable of tackling these challenges. She was an early Obama backer and served as a top foreign policy advisor on the campaign. Rice persevered despite sharp accusations of disloyalty from aides to Hilary Clinton during the primary battle because of her previous role at the State Department during President Clinton's administration. She emerged from the campaign as top prospect for a number of prominent foreign policy positions in the new administration.

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