Former national security adviser Susan Rice warned Tuesday morning that “we can’t allow Twitter wars to become shooting wars,” an implicit criticism of President Donald Trump and his habit of inciting and fueling online feuds.
Rice, speaking Tuesday at the liberal Center for American Progress’s Ideas Conference in Washington, offered her own vision for a comprehensive U.S. foreign policy built on the four pillars of military might, diplomacy, international aid and domestic stability. Her remarks were peppered with criticism of the Trump administration and the policies it has pursued since the president was inaugurated last January.
“Since I left the White House, I’ve become deeply concerned that the United States is squandering one of our greatest strategic assets: America’s leadership of the world,” she said. “It seems that the current administration looks at the world and sees only threats: immigrants, refugee, Muslims, Mexicans, even trade. It’s America first and the rest of the world last.”
Rice was critical, too, of Trump’s past skepticism towards the administrative state, military partnerships and international organizations like NATO that she said have been beneficial to U.S. national security. She was similarly skeptical of the suggestion put forward by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the U.S. must not insist on its values when pursuing national security goals around the globe.
“Visit Arlington Cemetery or allied burial grounds around the world. Our soldiers didn’t fight as part of some global protection racket,” Rice said, an allusion to Trump’s past remarks that the U.S. bears too much of the burden of security agreements with NATO and South Korea. “They died for the rights of all people to live in freedom, dignity and equality.”
The most-pressing, over-arching issue facing the nation, Rice said, is the “national funk” of partisanship and polarization that she said sends a message of weakness around the globe. She recalled her childhood in Washington, when she said that loyalties and legislation often existed across party lines, and noted that the divisive political culture into which the nation has fallen makes it less safe.
“Surely, we will often disagree. But we sure as hell need to agree that a hostile foreign power has no business messing with our elections,” Rice said. “If we cannot find our way to put country over party, democracy over demagoguery, even in the face of such a dangerous external threat, then we might as well hang up our leadership cleats and resign ourselves to becoming a second-rate power. That should not be our future.”