By Melanie Phillips
And so it came to pass. Samantha Power has finally made it into the top tier of the Obama administration.
Power is reputed to be one of President Obama’s closest advisers. Until now, she was the relatively lowly director of multilateral affairs at the National Security Council. With her reported imminent appointment as the US Ambassador to the United Nations, what I predicted at the beginning of the Obama presidency has now happened: that in a second term, he would promote to the front rank those who were so extreme and so dangerous to the well-being of America and the civilised world that in his first term, so as not to frighten the horses, he would keep them in the lower ranks out of sight.
Well, we should all be frightened by Samantha Power.
She is the living embodiment of the way in which ‘human rights’ have morphed into their absolute opposite, and instead of providing a protection against tyranny have been turned into the anvil upon which freedom and justice are being smashed.
A supposed expert on genocide, having argued that nations have a moral obligation to prevent it, she was asked in 2002 as a ‘thought experiment’ what she would advise the US President to do about the Israel-Palestinian problem ‘if one party or another [starts] looking like they might be moving toward genocide’. She responded to this already disturbingly loaded question:
‘...what we need is a willingness to put something on the line in helping the situation. Putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import; it may more crucially mean sacrificing — or investing, I think, more than sacrificing — billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine, in investing the billions of dollars it would probably take, also, to support what will have to be a mammoth protection force, not of the old Rwanda kind, but a meaningful military presence. Because it seems to me at this stage (and this is true of actual genocides as well, and not just major human rights abuses, which were seen there), you have to go in as if you’re serious, you have to put something on the line.
‘Unfortunately, imposition of a solution on unwilling parties is dreadful. 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 our policy, or that are meant to, anyway. It’s essential that some set of principles becomes the benchmark, rather than a deference to [leaders] who are fundamentally politically destined to destroy the lives of their own people. And by that I mean what Tom Friedman has called “Sharafat.” [Sharon/Arafat] I do think in that sense, both political leaders have been dreadfully irresponsible. And, unfortunately, it does require external intervention’ [my emphasis].
Clearly, despite the careful nods to a (disgusting) moral equivalence Power was not talking about invading the disputed territories beyond Israel’s borders to prevent the Palestinians from committing genocide or major human rights abuses against Israel by wiping out the Jewish national homeland -- an aim to which their leadership remains committed in word and deed.
No, she was talking about invading Israel to prevent a genocide, or major human rights abuses, (her language wasn’t clear, but the point is the same), against the Palestinians -- something which, in any rational universe, not only could not possibly be laid at Israel’s door but also held out the possibility that Israel might commit atrocities against people who themselves make Israel the victim of precisely such atrocities (and indeed, commit them regularly against other Palestinians).
She also suggested that defending Israel was not a cause that should be dear to all Americans and indeed all decent people everywhere, nor that the great majority of Americans do indeed thus support Israel, but that the only people who might be alienated by invading Israel would be American Jews who exercised tremendous political and financial power over American politics.
Subsequently she said of these comments that she couldn’t remember what she had said and didn’t understand what she had meant.
Maybe a clue lies in what she told the New Statesman during Obama’s first presidential campaign:
'So much of it is about: "Is he going to be good for the Jews?" '
Or when she bemoaned the tendency of US policymakers
‘to defer reflexively to Israeli security assessments, and to replicate Israeli tactics…’
Failing to understand herself seems to be a persistent problem beyond this amnesia about her own bigotry. In March 2008, she called Hillary Clinton:
‘a monster...the amount of deceit she has put forward is really unattractive.’
Later she said of these remarks:
‘Of course I regret them... I can’t even believe they came out of my mouth.’
Here are some of her other activities to date.
In April 2003 she signed a Statement on Cuba, initiated by the Democratic Socialists of America member Leo Casey calling for the lifting of trade sanctions against Cuba.
Along with Susan Rice (the former UN ambassador, now appointed Obama’s National Security Adviser, heaven help us) and Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State, Power is considered a key architect of the disastrous Libyan intervention.
And despite her advocacy of attack or invasion to prevent threatened genocides, she has sneered at concerns about the race to build a nuclear bomb by Iran, which has repeatedly threatened genocide against the Jews of Israel, as a figment of the war-mongering Republican imagination.
Samantha Power and the UN are thus a perfect match.