Susan Rice, US ambassador to the United Nations: ‘We’re quite popular in Libya’

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
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On this weekend’s broadcast of ABC’s “This Week,” U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice defended the Obama administration’s response to last week’s violent Middle East uprisings and the death of four Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Fill-in host Jake Tapper asked Rice if the unrest suggested a decline in U.S. popularity and power abroad.

“Jake, we are not impotent,” Rice said. “We’re not even less popular, to challenge that assessment. I don’t know [on] what basis you make that judgment.”

Rice reiterated the Obama administration’s claim that an anti-Islam movie by filmmaker Sam Bacile is responsible for the turmoil.

“First of all, let’s be clear about what transpired here,” Rice said. “What happened this week in Cairo, in Benghazi, in many other parts of the region was a direct result of a heinous and offensive video that was widely disseminated that the U.S. government had nothing to do with, which we have made clear that it’s reprehensible and disgusting. We also have been very clear in saying that there’s no excuse for violence. We have condemned it in the strongest possible terms. We have said that there’s no excuse for violence.”

“But let’s look at what’s happened,” she continued. “It is quite the opposite of being impotent. We have worked with the governments in Egypt. President Obama picked up the phone and talked to [Egyptian President Mohamed] Morsi. And as soon as he did that, the security provided to our personnel and our embassies dramatically increased. President Morsi has been out repeatedly and said that he condemns this violence. He’s called off — his people called off any further demonstrations and has made very clear that this has to stop.”

Rice insisted the U.S. remains popular in Libya, despite the Benghazi attack.

“Frankly, in Tunisia, in Yemen, and of course in Libya, where the government has gone out of its way to try to step up security and express the deepest remorse — we’re quite popular in Libya, as you might expect, having been a major part in their revolution,” Rice said.

“What transpired outside of our consulate in Benghazi wasn’t an expression of deep-seated anti-American sentiment. Quite the contrary. the counter-demonstrations, the outpouring of sympathy and support for Ambassador [Christopher] Stevens and for the United States, the government of Libya, and the people on the streets saying, how pained they are about this, is much more reflective of the sentiment toward the United States than a small handful of heavily armed mobsters.”

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Jeff Poor