“Liberal” Samantha Power, Obama’s Oliver North, finally gets her war

Every President needs a hard headed idealist inside the National Security Council who can get things done in tight situations. The idealism allows this kind of individual to ignore the day to day complexities of the West Wing in order to pursue a wider goal. The hard headedness helps to clear the way when the sharp elbows of the bureaucracy start flying.

Sometimes it takes an Oliver North whose right wing military fantasies led the Reagan Administration into an illegal and immoral war in Central America.

In a liberal Administration like that of Obama, the task has fallen to a new kind of figure, the “human rights hawk” Samantha Power. Power, a journalist who also got a law degree and began teaching at Harvard, struck up a friendship with Obama while he was in the Senate and then secured an appointment to the NSC in the new Administration, despite a campaign gaffe when she attacked Hillary Clinton. The New York Times and Fox both report Power has played a key role in the internal debate leading to the US-led attack on Libya this weekend.

Power initially rose to fame after publishing an emotional account of the failure of the international community to respond to the Rwandan genocide. A key role in that genocide was played by France which backed the genocidal regime, including providing them military advice, yet that has not stopped Power from helping the Obama regime work closely with France now to intervene to take control of the unfolding democratic revolution in the middle east and north Africa (“MENA”). Has France changed its opportunistic approach to African politics? Of course not. And neither has the United States.

Power’s lesson though from the Rwandan catastrophe was that the place to help the peoples of the developing world was in the inner halls of power in the one regime whose global neo-liberal agenda has done so much to harm Africa and many other countries in the world in the wake of the end of the Cold War.

Once again, the argument is couched in terms of human rights. With Qaddafi, Power has found a devil everyone can agree to hate. Thus, the US has found its entry point to the MENA revolutionary situation and it can now attempt to take the momentum out of the hands of the people of the region themselves. Power then is at the top of the heap of a generation of so-called “human rights” activists who have chosen to cozy up to power, no pun intended, in the naive view that the human rights agenda can be promoted through the barrel of a (US) gun, or, in the case of Libya, on the nose of a Tomahawk missile shot from a submarine in Mediterranean Sea.

Another road was possible, first, because it was not clear that the Libyan revolutionary movement itself could not have survived the Qaddafi assault. There were reports that inside Tripoli itself widespread dissent is still expressed and it may have been the case that Qaddafi was about to over extend himself. No doubt there would be casualties but there is as much chance now that the regime will turn its attention to solidifying its hold on Tripoli through harsh repression in order to survive this attack by the Big Powers.

Second, there were reports of Egyptian military assistance to the rebels. Had this been broadened it might have helped turn the tide. There are a million or more Egyptians inside Libya and there are more than a million Egyptians under arms, well equipped by the West by the way over many years, who could have come to the aid of their Libyan brethren. This offered the hope of extending and strengthening the MENA revolution and leading to genuine independence for the region from the “global community” that has only brought torture, repression and neo-liberal structural adjustment to the region for the last twenty years.

In fact, it might have been the case that the US’s fear of a regional democratic solution that would finally and definitively exclude the Big Powers from influencing the MENA revolution was precisely what sparked the turn inside the Obama regime to an attack. No wonder John McCain and Lindsey Graham have been thumping for intervention. Power and the other “human rights hawks” should ask themselves who is really calling the tune in this situation.

Shift by Clinton Helped Push Obama to Take a Harder Line – NYTimes.com.

6 thoughts on ““Liberal” Samantha Power, Obama’s Oliver North, finally gets her war”

  1. Obama was never a tenure track professor but rather a senior lecturer

    This was a reference to the thousands of tenured academics who lauded him in writing, speeches, T.V interviews, promoting this shuck and jive “Community organizer”, a man with an obscure past and with the prospects of becoming a legacy of historical shame greater than Jimmy Carter, historically, one of the worst in U.S history. Indeed, he was not tenured when “lecturing” (teaching the students the Alinsky methods of of slow overthrow of the government – as shown on the blackboard from one of the few rare photos of that era) however, they did make an offer for a secured position, to a fellow who never once wrote anything not only to become a full time professor, but to put him on a fast track for tenure. So much for academic excellence in one of the Mid West most prestigious universities.

  2. The tenured opinionators of the academic Left never fail to turn a basket case into a topic of admiration. If I am correct, Libya, was a push over case, a cheap shuck and jive trick with material consequences that could impact Italy and the rest of Europe, but could not threaten the well being of U.S citizens beyond the economic impact of rising oil prices. When it comes to Iran or Syria, and soon Algiers Ms. Power, (like the mentor of Mme. Clinton, who admonished General Hugh Shelton, reluctant to order the Apaches in the Kosovo war, saying, why do we have them if we are not to use them) is utterly oblivious to the coming mass slaughter in these geographies? Some 160,000 people were killed in the last 20 years in Algiers, did the U.S ever plan to do a thing about it? Is there any doubt that it is beyond the capacity of the U.S to do much for these “freedom fighters” ? Why can the Left be so selective? Where do they teach and develop these half bakes theories of justified selectivity? These nasty centers of evil doing is not on the agenda for the prancing Obama loyalist. If they could score a quick ouster, they will brag about it, and as soon as the fallout will become evident they will blame others, the U.S military or run for the hills, leaving the bloody mass for the Republicans to sort out.

  3. Of course, he should have obtained Congressional approval for these acts of war. And it was the Obama liberal left who argued throughout the Bush era that the failure of the Bush Administration to obtain clear congressional approval for the widespread war in Iraq undermined the constitutional legitimacy of the intervention. In fact a key legal advisor in the Obama administration, Harold Koh, has long been an advocate of the view of Justice Jackson who underlined the importance of agreement between the executive and legislative branches for actions like military intervention. Yet, in this case the liberals have somehow lost their constitutional compass.

    The larger issue though here is not whether Congress should have endorsed the intervention – is there any doubt they would have? The question is whether we should be there at all. That is a political not a legal question.

    For the record, Obama was never a tenure track professor but rather a senior lecturer. Without any record of publication or any evidence of inclination or ability to write serious scholarship he would not really be a serious candidate for a tenured professor position, certainly not at the University of Chicago.

  4. Question: Did President Obama by not submitting the no fly zone decision to Congresss violate the Constitution as Dennis Kucinich has charged? This is surely an act of war which was not justified by any aggression on the part of Moammar Quaddafi. Of course, many pundits have made the point that the constitutional role of Congress has been usurped by many presidents since WW II so Obama can justify in his own mind that he is following precedence. But again as a law professor who has taught constitutional law he must be aware of his duty to uphold the constitution.

  5. They don’t care about human rights, it’s the oil contracts. Why do you think France is in the lead? The U.S. and U.N. want to install rulers who will give them a better deal.
    The Egyptian army? Do you believe that just because the popular uprising has forced out a few people at the top, that the Egyptian government has become any less of a wholly owned subsidiary of international oil and other financial interests? A still willing but more cautious agent of U.S. foreign policy, I’d say.

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