What precisely do we know about Samantha Power, the president’s new nominee for the post of ambassador to the United Nations?
I ask the question for one reason: Power, it seems, has won the support of some conservatives, as well as some friends of Israel. Judging from the numerous articles appearing in the past day or so that have fully sketched out some of her most loathsome views, the support she is receiving is more than troubling. Indeed, it is perplexing.
I suspect the favorable response to the president’s appointment comes from her reputation as a liberal interventionist who is at the forefront of supporting U.S. action when a regime abroad is moving towards genocide or a gross abuse of human rights, and when the United States in her eyes is capable of doing something to stop it. As we know, Power, who wrote a major prize-winning book about genocide, was at the forefront of those urging U.S. action against Colonel Moammar Qaddafi in Libya.
I once quipped that liberals favor humanitarian intervention and the use of American military force when human rights are being threatened and when the regime in question cannot be said to be harming basic American national security interests. On the other hand, these same liberals oppose the use of force when our interests are threatened directly, and often call advocates of U.S. military actions “imperialists” who are acting to protect the American empire.
Hence they are for intervention when it isn’t necessary, and against it when it is!
If we look back at Libya, two things are most clear. Qaddafi led a vile and oppressive regime that under his command had directly harmed the United States. But under pressure — unlike Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong-Un — he gave up his nuclear-power complex and stopped developing a nuclear arsenal. Yet, because he publicly threatened to obliterate his domestic opponents and physically destroy them, President Obama argued that the U.S. was obliged to act to depose him in order to prevent a major human rights catastrophe.
Part of his reasoning came right from Samantha Power’s arguments — particularly the one in which she asserted the argument known as “Responsibility to Protect.” As Monica Crowley writes, her doctrine states that “the U.S. has a moral responsibility to intervene anywhere there is a slaughter or the potential of slaughter (whether our strategic interests are involved or not). She successfully argued ‘R2P’ (as it’s known) and Obama led the NATO operation that helped to overthrow Moammar Qaddafi (who had not initiated an assault against his people).”
One has only to compare Obama’s actions on Libya with those he took against Assad in Syria. Except for endlessly repeating that Assad has to step down, Obama did nothing at all. Even after Assad began to kill thousands of people, the president did not act.
He acted in Libya when there was no slaughter; he did not act in Syria when there was.
Now over 80,000 have been killed, and Assad has used sarin, a poison gas. So much for Power’s policy of “humanitarian intervention.”
As for Power’s views on other critical questions, others have already gone through them and offered a rundown of what she stands for. You can find her worst statements at the Washington Free Beacon. A more extensive summary can be found in Arnold Ahlert’s article at Frontpagemag.com.
Perhaps the most famous of her views come from her 2003 article in The New Republic, in which she outlined what became the Obama policy of apologizing to the world for America’s sins. Here, Power wrote:
Some anti-Americanism derives simply from our being a colossus that bestrides the earth. This resentment may be incurable. But much anti- Americanism derives from the role U.S. political, economic, and military power has played in denying such freedoms to others.
U.S. foreign policy has to be rethought. It needs not tweaking but overhauling. We need: a historical reckoning with crimes committed, sponsored, or permitted by the United States. This would entail restoring FOIA to its pre- Bush stature, opening the files, and acknowledging the force of a mantra we have spent the last decade promoting in Guatemala, South Africa, and Yugoslavia: A country has to look back before it can move forward. Instituting a doctrine of the mea culpa would enhance our credibility by showing that American decision-makers do not endorse the sins of their predecessors
Then there are Power’s views on Israel. Calling for a major U.S. military force to be placed in Israel to enforce an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, she argued that it might be difficult, since it “might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and social import.” She obviously meant American Jews and groups like AIPAC.
A few years later, when asked about her own statement at the time, she answered: “Even I don’t understand it … it doesn’t make sense to me.” Actually, Power did obviously remember why she said that. Relatively young and very smart, Power could hardly forget.
Martin Kramer, president-elect of Shalem College in Jerusalem and a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, revealed the truth about why she made that statement. Writing in 2008, Kramer showed that Power’s disavowal of her own statement, which she attempted to say occurred because it was stated in the context of “discussing the deployment of international peacekeepers,” was meant to make it seem plausible.
Kramer reveals that at that time Power was influenced by the Canadian intellectual Michael Ignatieff. Ten days before Power called for U.S. troops to be stationed in Israel, Ignatieff had written his own op-ed titled “Why Bush must send in his troops.” That editorial, Kramer comments, “includes every trendy calumny against Israel.”
Ignatieff’s point was that the United States had to use force to get Israel to accept and to move towards a two-state solution. Powers, he concludes, shared this vision “with her closest colleague” at Harvard’s Carr Center.
His text, Kramer writes, “was exactly what Power meant.”