Yesterday, President Barack Obama spoke at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, where he praised his administration for saving “countless lives” and pledged endless support for Israel. Among his announcements, the president highlighted his new Atrocities Prevention Board, an initiative aimed at preventing genocide and related social ills. What’s most interesting about the bold proposal, though, is the individual who will chair the board — Samantha Power.
Why is she noteworthy, you ask? To begin, Power has a complicated history with the Obama camp and has been accused, in the past, of making disparaging remarks about Israel. The Chicago Sun-Times has more about Power and her involvement in the new-found genocide prevention board:
Samantha Power — who won a Pulitizer Prize for her book on genocide and now advises the Obama administration on the subject–will chair President Barack Obama’s new Atrocities Prevention Board, which gets down to work Monday as Obama delivers a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. [...]
The Obama White House efforts to address genocide is headed by Samantha Power, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights. Power won a Pulitizer Prize for her book, “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide”and worked briefly for Obama when he was a U.S. senator from Illinois.
You may also remember Power from her role in Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign (she resigned after calling Hillary Clinton a “monster”). She’s also the wife of Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs’ Administrator Cass Sunstein (of “Nudge” fame).
Glenn Beck, too, has discussed her in detail. In March 2011, he covered Power on his radio show and a subsequent article on GlennBeck.com recapped the host’s stance:
For anyone who thinks that Samantha Power is just some low level cog in the Washington machine, the New York Times just did a nice profile on her role in the current administration. It turns out that Mrs. Cass Sunstein is probably the most dangerous woman in America, after all. [...]
“Now from her perch on the national Security Council, she is in a position to make the case for the commander in chief and to watch him translate her ideas into action. She’s clearly the foremost voice for human rights with in the White House, says Kenneth Ross. She has Obama’s ear. The Irish‑born Miss Power…functions as kind of an institutional memory bank on genocide,” [Beck said].
“So we have Cass Sunstein’s wife advising on the Responsibility to Protect,” Glenn said “If you’re in the circle of George Soros, she was a queen. George Soros immediately funded a group to push the Responsibility to Protect.”
“[UN official Richard Falk] has been pushing for the right to protect or the Responsibility to Protect to be used against Israel and they’ve been trying this now for the last couple of years, and that’s what this is really all about, period. This is about going after Israel,” Glenn said. [Emphasis added]
Watch Beck discuss these issues on his radio program last year:
Considering this information and her past comments about Israel, The Lid blog wonders if Power will use her position on the Atrocities Prevention Board “as a tool to de-legitimize Israel.” The blog notes that, in 2002, Power sat down with Harry Kreisler, the director of the Institute for International Studies at Berkeley. Kreisler asked her the following:
“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 you respond to current events there? Would you advise him to put a structure in place to monitor that situation, at least if one party or another [starts] looking like they might be moving toward genocide?”
Power’s response, in the eyes of those who support Israel, was problematic, as she claimed support for “external intervention” in the Israeli-Palestinian dilemma and said that it’s important to consider the “lesser evils” associated with getting involved in alleviating the issue. She also, at one point in her commentary, claimed that Middle Eastern leaders — including Israel, it seems — are “destroying the lives of their own people.” Here is a portion of her response, word-for-word:
“What we need is a willingness to actually put something on the line…and putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import. It may more crucially mean…investing literally billions of dollars not in servicing Israeli military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine.
In investing billions of dollars it would probably take also to support, I think, what would to be, I think, a mammoth protection force…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 we’re seeing there — but is that you have to go in as if you’re serious. You have to put something on the line and unfortunately the position of a solution on unwilling parties is dreadful, it’s a terrible thing to do its fundamentally undemocratic.”
Watch the dialogue, below:
The Lid summarizes the tenets held within her words as follows:
- “Alienate” the American Jewish community, and indeed all Americans, such as evangelical Christians, who support the state of Israel, because Israeli leaders are “destroying the lives of their own people.”
- Pour billions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money into “the new state of Palestine”
- Stage an American ground invasion of Israel and the Palestinian territories — what else can she mean by a “mammoth protection force” and a “military presence” that will be “imposed” by “external intervention”? — Interestingly she considers the exact same thing the height of arrogance and foolishness when it was done in Iraq.
Now, it is important to note that she differentiated “genocide” from the “major human rights abuses” that she believes — or at least believed back in 2002 — were occurring as a result of the conflict. Still, one cannot help but wonder if her views surrounding Israel and the Middle East will impact how she manages her position on Obama’s new-found panel.
Plus, with many on the left accusing Israel of genocidal intentions, fears and questions over how Power will use her position are certainly warranted.
(H/T: The Lid)