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IndianaGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:21 PM
Original message
In Defense of Samantha Power
Published on Saturday, March 15, 2008 by CommonDreams.org
In Defense of Samantha Power
by Raj Purohit and Rich Stazinski


Last Friday, the Clinton campaign, via a group of Congressional surrogates, called for the immediate dismissal of Obama foreign policy advisor Samantha Power for an inappropriate comment she made to the Scotsman newspaper.

As has been widely reported, she called Senator Clinton a monster for attacking Senator Obama in an aggressive manner. Since then, in order to insulate a candidate she has been working hard for, Power immediately resigned. While this is obviously a blow to the Obama campaign, we strongly believe it is also a great loss to the foreign policy discussion taking place in this critical election season.

<snip>

Unfortunately, we cannot help but wonder whether the response from the Clinton campaign is driven, at least in part, by Powers past critique (as an individual, not a campaign adviser) of the Clinton administrations failures during the Rwanda genocide. In a critically important 2001 article in Atlantic Monthly, she queried President Clintons partial apology for his administrations inaction on Rwanda:

This implied that the United States had done a good deal but not quite enough. In reality the United States did much more than fail to send troops. It led a successful effort to remove most of the UN peacekeepers who were already in Rwanda. It aggressively worked to block the subsequent authorization of UN reinforcements. It refused to use its technology to jam radio broadcasts that were a crucial instrument in the coordination and perpetuation of the genocide. And even as, on average, 8,000 Rwandans were being butchered each day, U.S. officials shunned the term genocide, for fear of being obliged to act. The United States in fact did virtually nothing to try to limit what occurred. Indeed, staying out of Rwanda was an explicit U.S. policy objective.

Whether this critique motivated the Clinton campaign is impossible to know, and for the record we believe that the Clinton administration did fail in Rwanda, just as the Bush administration is failing on Darfur. What is clear is that the status quo seems to breed inaction in the face of genocidal acts.

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/03/15/7703 /

Bystanders to Genocide

by Samantha Power


In March of 1998, on a visit to Rwanda, President Clinton issued what would later be known as the "Clinton apology," which was actually a carefully hedged acknowledgment. He spoke to the crowd assembled on the tarmac at Kigali Airport: "We come here today partly in recognition of the fact that we in the United States and the world community did not do as much as we could have and should have done to try to limit what occurred" in Rwanda.

This implied that the United States had done a good deal but not quite enough. In reality the United States did much more than fail to send troops. It led a successful effort to remove most of the UN peacekeepers who were already in Rwanda. It aggressively worked to block the subsequent authorization of UN reinforcements. It refused to use its technology to jam radio broadcasts that were a crucial instrument in the coordination and perpetuation of the genocide. And even as, on average, 8,000 Rwandans were being butchered each day, U.S. officials shunned the term "genocide," for fear of being obliged to act. The United States in fact did virtually nothing "to try to limit what occurred." Indeed, staying out of Rwanda was an explicit U.S. policy objective.

With the grace of one grown practiced at public remorse, the President gripped the lectern with both hands and looked across the dais at the Rwandan officials and survivors who surrounded him. Making eye contact and shaking his head, he explained, "It may seem strange to you here, especially the many of you who lost members of your family, but all over the world there were people like me sitting in offices, day after day after day, who did not fully appreciate the depth and the speed with which you were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror."

Clinton chose his words with characteristic care. It was true that although top U.S. officials could not help knowing the basic factsthousands of Rwandans were dying every daythat were being reported in the morning papers, many did not "fully appreciate" the meaning. In the first three weeks of the genocide the most influential American policymakers portrayed (and, they insist, perceived) the deaths not as atrocities or the components and symptoms of genocide but as wartime "casualties"the deaths of combatants or those caught between them in a civil war.

Yet this formulation avoids the critical issue of whether Clinton and his close advisers might reasonably have been expected to "fully appreciate" the true dimensions and nature of the massacres. During the first three days of the killings U.S. diplomats in Rwanda reported back to Washington that well-armed extremists were intent on eliminating the Tutsi. And the American press spoke of the door-to-door hunting of unarmed civilians. By the end of the second week informed nongovernmental groups had already begun to call on the Administration to use the term "genocide," causing diplomats and lawyers at the State Department to begin debating the word's applicability soon thereafter. In order not to appreciate that genocide or something close to it was under way, U.S. officials had to ignore public reports and internal intelligence and debate.

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200109/power-genocide
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The Traveler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:41 PM
Response to Original message
1. I was amazed
that an (unsurprising) expression of intense dislike by one woman for another produced the reactions it did.

While one may disagree with Power's opinion of Ms. Clinton's character, she does retain the right to that opinion. Clinton herself has uttered more disparaging phrases (on the record) regarding Mr. Obama. Perhaps she should resign from her own campaign?

:shrug:
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Fredda Weinberg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 12:56 PM
Response to Original message
2. I heard Ms Powers defend Clinton on Democracy Now. Kinda silly to
knock her the next day; more likely is what happened, she did herself by recording "off the record". No, that's not the way the world works ...
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IndianaGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 02:43 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Had you watched the entire Powers "monster" interview
she was very complimentary of Hillary, until she made the very accurate description of Hillary as a monster for sinking to such low depths in order to win.
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Fredda Weinberg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 09:29 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. I heard there was interesting context and I'm not surprised. Her
objection is political and that's appropriate for a partisan. Her only fault was her inexperience ... and I'm afraid the remedy sometimes has to be painful.
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RichardRay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 02:53 PM
Response to Original message
4. Samantha Powers knows monsters, real ones...
and I don't think she was putting Clinton on the same level as the real ones. If she thought Clinton was really a 'monster' in that sense I think the whole thing would have had a much different tone.
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