12:22. Kerry concludes, “the UN is too valuable, and the issues are too urgent.” He expects to have Rice sworn in by next Wednesday at the latest.
12:20. Kerry’s message to the UN: “this is a new moment,” and it’s time for the UN to reform. He seems to be addressing those few countries that frustrate reform efforts to “stick it in the eye of the UN.” It’d be important to remember that this “new moment” may decrease the numbers of those countries.
12:13. Senator Casey brings up the General Assembly vote on decriminalizing homosexuality. Good for him.
12:06. Casey says “Lugarrrr” a day after Clinton does. A mutiny in the SFRC?
12:02. This is newsworthy: Rice says the incoming administration has not yet made a decision on whether or not to join the Human Rights Council.
12:00. “What might have been different with U.S. participation and leadership” in the Human Rights Council? A worthwhile question.
11:53. Wyoming Senator Barrasso asks the black helicopter questions on guns and global taxes. Rice responds that the UN can’t change the U.S. constitution nor impose taxes on American citizens absent the consent of Congress. So your guns are safe, Senator Barrasso, and a UN “global tax” is about as likely as a UN attempt to raise an army of giant green swamp monsters.
11:50. Rice navigates a tricky answer about involving U.S. personnel in UN operations; they will not operate under UN “command responsibility,” but can contribute to UN missions.
11:47. Boxer likes her International Human Rights Convention on the Rights of the Child. Rice calls it a ” shame” that the United States stands only with Somalia in not ratifying the treaty.11:42. Rice confirms that CEDAW will be an “important priority” for this Administration. Amen
11:41. Boxer is “embarrassed” that the U.S. hasn’t ratified CEDAW. We agree!
11:38. Kerry giving up the reigns to Lugar for a few minutes. Hold on!
11:37. Senator Boxer: how do you convince people at the UN that the situation in Gaza is all Hamas’ fault?
11:28. Uh-oh. Isakson conflated the peacekeeping missions in Darfur and Sudan into “UNAMIS.” No UN-AU mission in Somalia (yet, at least), and UNAMID and UNMIS are different entities. Hopefully it was just a mix-up by this member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee…
11:24. Rice admits that she regifted Isakson’s peanuts!
11:23. Senator Isakson calls U.S. investment in UN “disproportionate.” Well, yes, but disproportionately small. If the United States paid proportionate to its GDP, as other nations do, it would be paying more than the quarter of the budget that it currently pays.
11:21. Rice has an imposingly large notebook in front of her. And she looks like she’s read it all…
11:20. Iran makes its first appearance. Rice makes the point that both Russia and China have agreed that they don’t want to see a nuclear Iran. I like the tack: focus on common interests.
11:16. Rice sees that the lack of an underlying peace is at the root of the problems in Darfur and throughout Sudan.
11:12. Former New Jersey senator Jon Corzine was an early leader on Darfur. The new New Jersey senator Robert Menendez seems to be picking up the mantle. Thank you, Garden State!
11:09. Rice: UN is an “imperfect but indispensable vehicle” to address global problems, and presents a desirable “third way” between doing nothing and going it alone. DeMint is impressed.
11:05. DeMint thinks the UN is a paper tiger…yeah, a paper tiger with a nuclear weapon!
11:04. Sen DeMint does not believe Americans trust the UN. He too must have missed our polling data.
11:03. Senator DeMint repeats the tired canard that U.S. payments to the UN need to be tied to reforms. Not sure who he thinks will pay for those reforms…
10:59. Responding to Feingold, Rice says she is “skeptical about the wisdom of a UN peacekeeping force for Somalia at this time. ” We wholeheartedly agree.
10:57. Feingold asks about Rice’s “going down in flames” comment.
10:54. The newest Senator from New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen, takes her seat. Glad to see she’s on the SFRC.
10:51. Ah, Feingold opens with eastern Congo; I was wrong, but no less deserving a topic.
10:48. Lugar concerned with upcoming mandate expiration of UN “peacekeepers” in Georgia. Actually, they are “military observers,” and they have only been deployed in Abkhazia, not in South Ossetia.
10:45. Feingold enters the room. Ready to talk more Darfur? Iraq too, I’m sure.
10:42. Lugar repeats his error re: the Procurement Task Force. Susan Rice knows what’s up though; says the transition was supposed to happen
10:40. Rice expresses hope that the countries of Africa will speak with one voice supporting democracy in Zimbabwe…South Africa, are you listening?
10:39. Kerry asks a tough question about the extent to which our economic interdependence with China affects our ability to press China on issues like Darfur and Zimbabwe. Rice responds that sometimes tough, quiet diplomacy can be effective.
10:34. Kerry tells Rice not to be offended if Senators are popping in and out — lots of confirmation hearings today.
10:31. Rice: “we will work to strengthen international will to take on Darfur, Congo, and Zimbabwe.”
10:26. Rice affirms that the U.S. needs to pay its UN dues in full, without conditions, and on time, and urges Congress to lift the outdated U.S. cap on peacekeeping contributions.
10:22. Rice’s four areas of concentration: improving ability to undertake complex peacekeeping missions; strong leadership on climate change; preventing the spread and use of nuclear weapons; fighting poverty, disease, corruption, and more. That last one can be summed up with three letters: M-D-G.
10:19. U.S. will participate “vigorously” at climate change negotiations in Copenhagen.
10:13. Rice: “My first experience with the UN was like many others…as a trick or treater.” (She means those ubiquitous orange-and-black UNICEF boxes.)
10:10. Lugar thinks that Americans don’t have too favorable a view of the UN. He apparently hasn’t read this polling, which suggests otherwise.
10:09. Senator Lugar says that UN’s Procurement Task Force has been shut down. Not true — it’s simply been incorporated into the UN’s broader Office of Internal Oversight Services. Somebody should fact-check The Wall Street Journal.
10:07. The excellent Gayle Smith is sitting with Rice’s family. I’m told they share an office at Obama’s transition HQ.
10:03. Kerry listing myriad benefits of the UN: peacekeeping, election monitoring, advancing fights against global hunger and global poverty. U.S. underfunding “handicaps” these efforts. Emphatically makes a judgment: “that’s wrong.”
10:00. Kerry: no “blanket condemnations” of the UN, but no whitewashing.
9:59. After Clinton vote, gallery and press stay. Senators clear. Only Kerry, Lugar, and DeMint remain.
9:57. UN Foundation and UNF president Tim Wirth get shout-outs from Senator Kerry!
9:56. Three generations of the Rice familly in the house. Beaming.
9:54. Vitter votes nay on Clinton nomination. Clinton passes SFRC with a vote of 16 to 1.
9:50. The committee moves to its “business meeting,” to vote on Hillary Clinton’s nomination to become Secretary of State.
9:48. Strength through alliances! Bayh: “We do not seek alliances because we are weak. But because working with our friends and allies around the world makes us strong.”
9:46. Evan Bayh, introducing Rice: “the last eight years show there is great peril acting alone in a dangerous world.”
9:39. Susan Collins praises Susan Rice’s Maine roots.
9:36. Be sure to check out Spencer’s commentary on the confirmation hearing of Michele Flournoy to become Undersecretary of Defense, over at attackerman and The Washington Independent.
9:33. Here we go! Mark is live on scene, and I’ll be updating regularly.
(image from flickr user New America Foundation)