The lengths to which Obama foreign policy adviser Samantha Power will go to enforce her “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine are further than you might imagine.
Power is the National Security Council aide who, as you’ve probably read, played a key role in getting President Obama to attack Qaddafi to prevent a potential bloodbath in Libya. A longtime adviser, she is in many ways the architect of Obama’s foreign policy thinking, informing his thought on key matters like the need for multilateralism and UN cooperation in U.S. military activities and the eagerness to engage in dialogue with dictators like Iran’s Ahmadinejad.
Power backs the goals of the “Responsibility to Protect” movement, or “RtoP,” which advocates international military intervention in countries where the most egregious human rights abuses are occurring.
In a 2002 interview, Power said higher “principles” held by the United States give it the right and even the obligation to intervene militarily when civilians are in endangered by their own leaders’ actions.
In Israel at the time, the second Intifada was raging as Palestinian terrorists killed innocent Israeli civilians in a years-long campaign that many believe was launched by Palestinian bosses as a tool to gain concessions from Israel. Power says the United States should forcibly intervene to stop the violence, arguing that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon were “dreadfully irresponsible” and that their people were paying the price.
Unfortunately, imposition of a solution on unwilling parties is dreadful. I mean, It’s a terrible thing to do, it’s fundamentally undemocratic. But, sadly, we don’t just have a democracy here either, we have a liberal democracy. There are certain sets of principles that guide, you know, our policy, or that are meant to, anyway. And there, it’s essential that some set of principles becomes the benchmark, rather than a deference to people who are fundamentally politically destined to destroy the lives of their own people. And by that I mean what Tom Freidman has called “Sharafat.” I mean, I do think in that sense, both political leaders have been dreadfully irresponsible. And, unfortunately, it does require external intervention . . .
You’ll notice, she’s not just advocating intervention to stop an obviously malevolent tyrant like Muammar Qaddafi. She’s saying the U.S. should move in when it merely finds other leaders incompetent to do the right thing for their people.
Here’s the video of her full remarks on Israel. It’s an excerpt from an interview she did at the Institute of International Studies at the University of California, Berkeley as part of its “Conversations with History” series. As far as I can tell, the interview has been scrubbed from the website, though another she did in 2008 remains. The three minute bit you’ll see was preserved on YouTube.
This is alarming on several levels. First, why does she not take issue with the outrageous suggestion by the interviewer that the Israelis might engage in genocide? Here’s what Harry Kreisler, director of the institute, asked her:
Let me give you a thought experiment here, and it is the following: without addressing the Palestine – Israel problem, let’s say you were an advisor to the President of the United States, how would in response to current events would you advise to put a structure in place to monitor that situation, lest if one party or another be looking like they might be moving toward genocide?
Instead of getting up and walking out on this “thought experiment,” she responds by comparing the situation to that which existed in Srebrenica or Rwanda.
Such bland acceptance of Israel’s evil nature must be de rigeur in The Academy, as these two discuss a potential genocide committed by Jews as if it were an obvious possibility. Unfortunately, this attitude has graduated from The University to the White House, where she now works.
Listen to Power sneer at the “billions of dollars” we spend “servicing Israel’s military.” I for one think much of the U.S. aid to Israel may hurt our ally more than help it, but Power’s phrasing makes here distaste for the Israel Defense Forces clear.
She seems to imply as well that Jewish influence and money are weakening the will of politicians to conduct proper foreign policy.
Putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import.
She wants to introduce a “mammoth” U.S. military presence over Sharon’s objections. This strikes me, for someone who now is in a position of incredible power, as worse than anti-Israeli. It’s just really bizarre.
This video is nine years old. We all change in nine years, and perhaps Samantha Power has too. But a 2007 interview published on the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government suggests maybe not. In it, she indicates that Israel had an important role in getting us into the Iraq War.
It is tempting to see Iraq as the source of all our woes now, whereas I see Iraq as the symptom, in some measure, of a number of longstanding trends and defects in American foreign policy.
[One] longstanding foreign policy flaw is the degree to which special interests dictate the way in which the “national interest” as a whole is defined and pursued. Look at the degree to which Halliburton and several of the private security and contracting firms invested in the 2004 political campaigns and received very lucrative contracts in the aftermath of the U.S. takeover of Iraq. Also, America’s important historic relationship with Israel has often led foreign policy decision-makers to defer reflexively to Israeli security assessments, and to replicate Israeli tactics, which, as the war in Lebanon last summer demonstrated, can turn out to be counter-productive.
This is pretty incredible stuff and suggests someone who views Israel as a malevolent influence on U.S. policy that needs to be put in its place.
Power seems very much within the current international vogue of viewing the Palestinians as helplessly oppressed and Israel as a quasi-Apartheid state. It should be a great concern to Jewish voters – who supported Obama overwhelmingly in 2008 and probably will again in 2012 – as well as to other Israel supporters that such a person has so much influence over the president.
A hat tip to Pundit Press, where I found this video.