THE WISDOM FUND: News & Views
March 6, 2008
The Wisdom Fund

Obama is Better Off Without Samantha Power

by Enver Masud

A key foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama, Samantha Power, was forced to resign today after describing Hillary Clinton as a monster. Obama is better off without Power.

We know Power primarily from her television appearances on the subject of Darfur. We don't recall her mentioning the Chinese oil concessions (desired by U.S. companies), and the diminishing farmlands in the north (attributed to global warming) which caused herders there to migrate south where they came into conflict with farmers.

Nor did Power mention that among the 200,000 Darfurians who have died, a World Food Program report says that about 20% died due to violence, and 80% died mainly from starvation and from diseases.

Meanwhile, she appeared to ignore the far worse crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo. More people have died there than in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Darfur combined - 5.4 million by some estimates.

The late Senator Lantos played a major role in the Darfur deception, just like he did in the deception leading to the first Gulf War.

A high point of the public relations campaign against Iraq, was the testimony of a Kuwaiti refugee, before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on October 15, 1990, who told of Iraqi troops removing over 300 babies from incubators in Kuwait City hospital, and dumping them on the floor to die.

On January 6, 1992, John R. MacArthur, publisher of Harper's Magazine and author of "Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War," revealed in a New York Times Op-Ed that "Nayirah," the alleged refugee, was the daughter of Saud al-Sabah, Kuwait's ambassador to the United States, and that Hill and Knowlton, a large public relations firm, had helped prepare her testimony, which she had rehearsed before video cameras in the firm's Washington office.

"The chairmen of the Congressional group, Tom Lantos, a California Democrat, and John Edward Porter, an Illinois Republican, explained that Nayirah's identity would be kept secret to protect her family from reprisals in occupied Kuwait" wrote MacArthur.



Henry Parr, "How Far Should U.N. Go to Protect Civilians?," IPS, July 24, 2009

[ . . . the main obstacle to the implementation of a genuine R2P are precisely the policies and the attitudes of the countries that are most enthusiastic about this doctrine, namely the Western countries, and in particular the US. Jean Bricmont, "Bombing for a Juster World? The Problem With the 'Responsibility to Protect'," counterpunch.org, July 28, 2009]

[As a human-rights entrepreneur who is also a tireless advocate of war, Samantha Power is not aberrant. Elite factions of the human-rights industry were long ago normalized within the tightly corseted spectrum of American foreign policy. Sarah Sewell, the recent head of the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard, has written a slavering introduction to the new Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual: human-rights tools can help the U.S. armed forces run better pacification campaigns in conquered territory. The Save Darfur campaign, more organized than any bloc of the peace movement in the U.S., continues to call for some inchoate military strike against Sudan (with Power's vocal support) even though this disaster's genocide status is doubtful and despite an expert consensus that bombing Khartoum would do less than nothing for the suffering refugees. Meanwhile, the influential liberal think tank the Center for American Progress also appeals to human rights in its call for troop escalations in Afghanistan - the better to "engage" the enemy.--Chase Madar, "Samantha Power and the weaponization of human rights," amconmag.com, September 1, 2009]

Enver Masud, "Reply to CSID's Open Letter Opposing the No-fly Zone," The Wisdom Fund, March 22, 2011

[Power was cashiered from the campaign over a public insult to Hillary Clinton, and appointed to a lowly human-rights position at Obama's National Security Council, but has since emerged as Obama's lead adviser on the Middle East. . . .

Power is not only insidious, however, but also incompetent. Her Pulitzer Prize for human-rights reporting did not prepare her for the unpleasant realities on the ground in the Middle East. She shot her bolt prematurely over Libya, landing America in an embarrassment.--David P Goldman, "Israel the winner in the Arab revolts," atimes.com, April 12, 2011]

[The bar for preventing genocide may well have been set too high in the past, as she argues. But she, in turn, may be setting it too low, providing an ideological smokescreen for the use of American military force in dubious circumstances, something she never adequately addresses. She runs the risk of exposing America to the charge of hypocrisy for not intervening in countries where brutal mistreatment of the local population is taking place, as in Zimbabwe, while providing a validating and dangerously palatable logic for American overextension. Power's solution to the conundrum that has bedeviled the Democratic Party since Vietnam - when to sanction the use of force abroad - is to support wars of national liberation. This is likely not a solution at all.

In a speech in 2006, Power told graduating students at Santa Clara University Law School "to demand that our representatives are attentive to the human consequences of their decision making." The new round of engagements abroad by the Obama administration may well come to be seen as the last glimmerings of American hubris. "Kings can have subjects," George F. Kennan once observed, "it is a question whether a republic can."

It would be no small irony if, in her zeal to reshape American foreign policy in the image of liberal internationalism, Power were to usher in its demise.--Jacob Heilbrunn, "Samantha and Her Subjects," The National Interest, April 19, 2011]

Chase Madar, "Samantha Power and the Weaponization of Human Rights," counterpunch.org, June 6, 2013

back button