They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Liberal Interventionists?

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power1.jpgpower2.jpgJacob Heilbrunn has ‘penned’ a fascinating, no punches pulled essay on Samantha Power’s resignation and her place in the foreign policy establishment. I don’t agree with all of it and am myself a Samantha Power fan who thinks that, more than most, she has the ability to think somewhat strategically about ethereal global justice problems.
Heilbrunn is the author of the must-read They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons. After reading his essay which I clip below, Heilbrunn might want to begin preparing They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Liberal Interventionists.
Regarding Power and her faux pax, I suggested yesterday to Hillary Clinton that she take the magnanimous route and accept Power’s apology and then offer her a job. All of us have said something we wish we hadn’t — including Hillary Clinton. I’ve heard about some of the “more tense” moments in Hillaryland and know that the language and crassness can hit thin-air levels.


al gore.jpgClinton’s team is missing the chance to show a gentle, understanding side. It reminds me of James Fallows’ brilliant study of Al Gore’s debate preparation techniques in the Atlantic Monthly long ago. In his closing paragraph, Fallows wrote after his research “I now respect [Gore’s] capacities more and like him less.” But the zinger was that he cover art on the magazine featured a smiling Gore with a savage, snarling tooth cutting over his lip. Clinton has that problem — and she’s missing the good opportunities — like Samantha Power’s resignation — to send a different message.
From Heilbrunn’s useful commentary:

In short, Power is a humanitarian interventionist. She believed, and continues to believe, that it’s America’s mission to help the afflicted around the globe by emphasizing human rights rather than traditional great power politics and spheres of influence. In her gripping book, “A Problem From Hell,” which won a Pulitzer Prize, Power amplified her critique of U.S. foreign policy all the way back to the Turkish genocide against the Armenians during World War I.
Once again, Power’s approach was simple but powerful–to condemn the West, and the United States in particular, for failing to prevent the murder of helpless innocents. She traced a pattern of indifference in U.S. administrations down to the Balkans, arguing that United States needed to take an interventionist stance, whether it’s in Darfur or the Middle East. As a humanitarian interventionist, then, it’s a second reflex for Power to denounce and decry those who fail to meet her standards.
What Power does admire is crusaders, which is clearly the persona that she identifies Obama with. Her new book about the assassinated U.N. diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello is subtitled the “Fight to Save the World.” Power’s idea of politics is as a battle to the finish for grand ideals. Power wasn’t just writing about what she saw as a great U.N. diplomat, but also revealing how she sees herself–as a crusader for humanity.
Consequently, that could be why she continues to see many Democrats as squishes. Writing in 2006 in The Los Angeles Times (in a piece co-authored with Morton Abramowitz), Power declared that it was time for Democrats to “Get Loud, Get Angry!” According to Abramowitz and Power, “If the Democrats stand any chance of improving U.S. foreign policy in the near term, while also positioning themselves to conduct it in the medium term, it will not be by making nice. It will be by adding another truth to the administration’s absolutist gospels: If you screw up monumentally, you — like those harmed in your wake — will pay a price.”
Now Power has paid the price for getting loud and angry. Very undiplomatic, you might say. But Power may have burnished her own bona fides with the Democratic left by doing what Obama has rejected–come out swinging against Clinton. As Power’s numerous admirers lament her banishment from the Obama camp, she may even come to resemble something she’s only previously written about–a martyr.

I have a different take on Samantha Power — though I agree with a great deal of Jacob Heilbrunn’s treatment. I just think that Power is not just an activist — nor a fuzzy-thinker about global justice problems. She is a hybrid of a serious strategist and someone committed to turning back the tide of the world’s worst moral tragedies.
I wrote this yesterday about Samantha Power:

Samantha Power is one of America’s major foreign policy thinkers who synthesizes moral imperatives and strategic thought. One of the weaknesses of the “global justice community,” in which Power is a major player, is a preference for prioritizing platitudes while not emphasizing serious costs and benefits in responding to highly complex challenges. In other words, confronting the early signs of genocidal trends requires agenda setting and a sober calculation of priorities.
Samantha Power is a serious strategist who has a clear sense of the moral costs and benefits of American engagement in the world, and she brings much needed disciplined thinking to the global justice agenda. She should be in government and her voice is vital in any future government so as to not repeat the Bush administration’s mistake of allowing any emotional impulse to challenge evil and restore justice to trump the realities of costs, benefits, and strategy.

I may be giving Power too easy a time here — but while I agree with Heilbrunn’s notion that she is representative of a new breed of crusader. She is also much more than that.

— Steve Clemons

Comments

42 comments on “They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Liberal Interventionists?

  1. Will Bower says:

    Morrow.
    I’m well-aware that the Clintons play hardball…
    …and I -like- that about them.
    And, yes, I’m aware that they have blemishes on their portfolio…
    …but at least I know what those blemishes -are-.
    Obama would be so very Swift-Boatable in the months leading up
    to November. Hillary will -not- be.

    Reply

  2. BLH says:

    Powers’ academic writing centers on genocide and how the West should respond and often failed to do so. Rwanda stands at the center of her work and therein a deep and abiding criticism of the
    Clinton Administration actions and inaction to this crisis. In fact,
    her article in The Atlantic Monthly published in yes, September of 2001 laid out an indictment of hypocrisy and willful neglect before during and after the hundred days in ’94; 911 may have swamped this powerful critique for many, but the Clintons certainly remember the piece. I would go as far as to say Bill would not have mentioned
    Rwanda as his biggest regret in his bio had not Powers’ journalism and scholarship stood there accusing him. Her deconstruction of the Clinton ’98 apology is exquisite. Powers’ antipathy for the Clintons may go much deeper than ’08 campaign swings; she likely sees them together as not just complicit but responsible for the UN/US blindness
    to the horror. Bill did get that 3 am call and did nothing. This must be a sweet day of revenge for the family Clinton.
    Please link: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200109/power-genocide

    Reply

  3. questions says:

    Could it be that the issue of the morality of interventionism depends on motivation? If we go into another country in order to control resources/territory/religion/ideology, we get ourselves into huge pickles. Who are we to decide another nation’s tax policy (cf Iraq and Norquist), or another nation’s balance between christians and muslims, communists and capitalists? But if we send international troops in to give locals a chance to breathe, stop the killing and re-establish their own balance of power (if this kind of intervention is even possible), then maybe there is some justification. But I kind of think that if we have an economic/geo-strategic interest in the resolution, we’ve already lost. I also think I’m probably pretty naive about this kind of issue.

    Reply

  4. MarkL says:

    Dan Kervick,
    A good rule of thumb here is that when you start a comment by agreeing with Robert Morrow, you have probably lost your mind.
    Your frothing at the mouth anti-Clinton hysteria is absurd.

    Reply

  5. bmc says:

    Power is a neo-liberal. That’s a term that has been around for years in European politics, but I don’t see it much in American media or political discussion. It would be great if Clemons would delve into that a little more. British and Irish political observers have debated it for a long time. Americans are so very ignorant of politics outside their own ethnic or regional focus.
    I have Dr. Power’s book and admire her greatly. I even agree, to some extent, with her foreign policy thinking. But, I have some conservative blood still flowing through these veins, I guess; or perhaps my military background checks me just short of believing in this vision. At any rate, I wonder why the US military–in Power’s vision–is conceived as an arm of human rights–to intervene in other country’s politics–as opposed to being used solely to defend this country.
    That is a problem with the interventionist’s thinking, in my view. Neo-liberals believe the military is the arm of human rights around the globe. This conception, it seems to me, fundamentally creates the mindset that there is no real threat to national security. Over time, the diminishment of military power seems inevitable under a neo-liberal vision of foreign policy.
    I opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning, and still do. And, I oppose Bush’s policy of pre-emption, and still do. But, aren’t neo-liberals just a mirror reflection of the neo-cons in the sense that they are over-emphasizing use of the military, only at the other extreme?

    Reply

  6. Dan Kervick says:

    Robert Morrow is right about at least one thing: there is something close to a media blackout covering the Clintons and their history. It’s thoroughly irresponsible. There are at least a dozen very icky patches on the Bill and Hill trail of slime that are directly relevant to the question of Hillary Clinton’s suitability to stand as a candidate for the presidency. And yet the mainstream media has weirdly decided these matters are all out of bounds, and must remain buried in the past.
    I don’t know if this is just rank incompetence, stupidity, the effects of trauma, or the outcome of intimidation by the Clintons and their impressive pattern of retribution and character assassination. But whatever explains it, the media are failing in a stunning way to do their public duty. Perhaps they have all been bamboozled by the ridiculous Clinton spin that, because these events lie in the past, they are already-completed parts of the “vetting” process.
    Of course, the Republicans have no intention of abiding by the blackout rule. Yet only after Hillary Clinton is nominated will they move aggressively to raise the blackout, and treat us to replays of one Clinton scandal after another, week upon week, until November. When Democratic chances for the presidency lie smoldering in a stinking heap of Clinton scandal and malfeasance, I guess people like Karen Tumulty will then say, “Hey, I never saw that coming.”

    Reply

  7. C. Neiman says:

    OBAMA-POWER ’08: Samantha Power would make a terrific VP! She brings to the ticket foreign policy, a woman, and potentially the hard-hitting truthtelling, backed by an amazing scope of knowledge on the ground. He needs her in the administration in one way or another anyway. And “Obama-Power” is too good to be true.

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  8. Tahoe Editor says:

    Robert Morrow = classic CDS case
    The Waning Power of Hillary Hate: It Takes an Agenda | by David Weigel
    http://www.amconmag.com/2007/2007_10_22/cover.html

    Reply

  9. Robert Morrow says:

    Let’s see, I count 3 people Will Bower, mike and Tahoe Editor who just can’t handle the Ugly Truth about Hillary and Bill. And apparently, they have NO problem with the crude, extremely unprofessional, and even criminal behavior of the Clinton sociopaths.
    The Ugly Truth about Hillary and Bill, how they have used, abused and violated so many people for decades is what is sinking her campaign. What the “Jerry Springer” Clintons did do Paula Jones is but ONE of many violations that make Hillary “polarizing” “divisive” “controversial”
    “has baggage.” The liberal MSM, even as they dump the Clintons – thank-you, baby Jesus – will never tell you the gritty, ugly grimy details. Even as they hype Obama, God Bless them, they seem to think that all this “Hillary hate” just materializes out of thin air and not from the BEHAVIOR of this pair of sick jokers. Larry King asks “Why do they hate Hillary so much?” like he just does not have a clue.
    A perfect example of the media blackout on the Clintons is the case of Hillary’s and Jack Palladino’s terror campaign on Kathleen Willey in 1997-98, as her goons killed or stole her cat Bullseye, nailgunned her car tires and threatened her children 2 days before Kathleen’s deposition.
    Karen Tumulty of TIME Magazine told me personally that she does “not want to re-litigate” the 1990’s regarding the Clintons. Well that is fine and dandy because there are people like me, perhaps thousands like me, who will certainly be glad to do that if the Democrats are cretinous and suicidal enough to nominate Nurse Ratched.
    http://www.1984ArkansasMotherOfTheYear.com
    I think Hillary is running for president because she has nothing else to do, fake marriage and all.
    With warmest regards,
    Robert Morrow Clinton expert and anti-Hillary activist

    Reply

  10. idiotic says:

    THIS IS EXCELLENT NEWS!! FOR HILLARY!!!
    !!!HILLMENTUMâ„¢!!!!

    Reply

  11. WigWag says:

    Steve, more posts from you on the implications of liberal interventionism would be very valuable for us neophytes trying to rapidly educate ourselves on the implications of this school of foreign policy thought. And we better educate ourselves; if either democrat wins we will have a liberal interventionist strategy, either the Holbrooke kind or the Samantha Power’s kind.
    From what I can tell, the only difference between liberal interventionists and the neoconservative interventionism is that the liberals have to work harder to convince themselves that they are really the good guys.
    Both suffer from an incredible arrogance that they know the formula to make the world a better place. Both believe that they have the recipe for success that the natives are too dumb to figure out.
    Don’t Obama and Clinton fully support Bush’s policy on Serbia/Kosovo? Do you know if either candidate has given their detailed position on this issue? It seems to me that the difference between this policy and the policy in Iraq is one of degree only. We reverse the ethnic cleansing of Kosovar Albanians only to facilitate the ethnic cleansing of Kosovar Serbs. We decide that Kosovo belongs to the Albanians not the Serbs even though the north of Kosovo is almost entirely Serb (and could easily be appended to Serbia). We ignore the prospect of what Kosovo independence might mean for the Kurds, the Macedonians, the Basques, the Bosnian Serbs, etc.
    And worst of all, we undermine the United Nations. As soon as it won’t go along with US and EU policies, we ignore it and make unilateral decisions about where the borders of Europe should be. Isn’t this undermining the precious rule of international law that we (especially the Europeans) are supposed to be so fond of? I have no particular ax to grind with this issue but it does seem to me to be the perfect metaphor for liberal interventionism at it’s worst.
    Am I missing something or is this intervention likly to come back and bite us like so many of our foreign policy adventures have(e.g. supporting Anti Castro Cubans, supporting the Shah, supporting the Afghan insurgency against the Russians, supporting Sadaam Hussein)?
    Shouldn’t those of us who are Democrats be nervous that the likely Clinton or Obama foreign policy will probably lack as much humility as the McCain or even Bush foreign policy?
    I am increasingly worried that we have three bad choices when it comes to presidential foreign policy. Clinton adopts the Blair/Holbrooke “we know best” approach; Obama, who has no foreign policy experience, says he will talk to anybody at any time and then be willing to bomb the Taliban out of Pakistan regardless of the consequences; and McCain who says it’s no problem if we’re in Iraq for 100 years.

    Reply

  12. Tahoe Editor says:

    Yes, Morrow’s blather has got to go.
    Power no doubt has something to offer, but the pool of foreign-policy mavens isn’t SO small that you can’t eliminate hiring those who call you a “monster.”

    “Mrs Clinton’s biggest advantage over Mr Obama is John McCain. Had the Republicans nominated an extremist or obvious loser, the Democrats could have been confident enough of winning to choose a candidate who appealed to them emotionally, even if he did not have the pulling-power in large states demonstrated by the Clinton machine. Now that calculation may change.
    “Mr Obama may have a better record on Iraq than Mrs Clinton, but on almost every other issue of importance to the American public she is clearly ahead. Moreover, she is a Clinton — and can hope to reassure voters with the record of successful centrist economic policies when she was First Lady in the White House. Mr Obama, by contrast, is on record as being the most consistently “liberal” (in the American sense) member of the Senate, with arguably the most left-wing economic and foreign policy platform since George McGovern was beaten by Richard Nixon, despite the revulsion against the Vietnam War.
    “Finally there is the matter of maturity and experience. This is Mr McCain’s biggest gift to the Clinton campaign. An Obama-McCain contest would be seen as a match of inexperience against old age. Mr Obama hopes to win this competition by invoking the spirit of John F. Kennedy. What he forgets, however, is that Kennedy was swept to power on the crest of the baby boom, when the largest group of voters was in its twenties. Today these boomers are in their sixties or seventies — and will not take kindly to the charge that Mr McCain is too old to be president. Given the high propensity to vote among the elderly, this election will not be decided by a baby boom but by a senility surge.
    “So the world should probably prepare for a President McCain or Clinton. President Obama may have to wait until 2012 or 2016.
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/anatole_kaletsky/article3492457.ece

    Reply

  13. jim miller says:

    as a former clinton donator/voter/organizer I agree that the morrow’s comments are silly, yet his tactics are less abrasive than tahoe editors…neither provide civil, educated discussion….

    Reply

  14. Carroll says:

    Posted by PissedOffAmerican Mar 09, 12:02PM –
    But really, any truly interested person need look no further than Hillary’s support for Israel’s monstrous policies to find the label “monster” as an apropos description.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Yep, that’s the reason I can’t get behind her. The difference in what she says she stands for in her concern for disenfranchised people and especially children and the Israeli actions she supports is just too glaring. There is a big lie in there somewhere.
    It’s the old.. “I can’t hear what you are saying for looking at what you are doing.”

    Reply

  15. mike says:

    Steve –
    You do need to take down Robert Morrow’s attack. There is no reason to allow garbage like that on your otherwise fine blog.
    I witnessed the same type of trash-talking Obama supporters in my precinct caucus in Washington State last month. They screamed out Karl Rove talking points on Whitewater and Vince Foster to try to shut down Clinton supporters who had the floor. Fanatic Obama supporters like that are the true monsters in this country.
    The Obama brigade of Internet Rottweilers who attack any blogger who dares to say something positive about Senator clinton is disgusting.
    Clinton should never offer this Powers woman a job, she is clearly a neocon and a lot more devious than people give her credit for.
    mike

    Reply

  16. RonK, Seattle says:

    This brings to mind a particular irony: Some of the blogosphere’s leading lights, who favored intervention in Iraq on the grounds that Saddam was a monster, now hold that Hillary is monster on account of her “enabling” vote on intervention in Iraq.

    Reply

  17. Carroll says:

    Posted by CathiefromCanada Mar 08, 7:41PM –
    Speaking as a non-American, I believe the world now thinks America needs to get its own house in order before telling the rest of the world what to do. America is not the shining city any longer. When you have universal health care, anti-poverty programs, sensible drug laws, a livable minimum wage, and are seriously working on ending racism, then and only then will you have regained some moral authority in the world.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Speaking as an American I totally agreee.

    Reply

  18. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Hmm, well, perhaps Powers truly does consider Hillary a “monster”, and feels compelled to warn the American people.
    Whats wrong with that?
    The “wrong” here is muzzling Powers before she has had a chance to justify her statement with her reasoning. Like Carroll pointed out, it woulds be nice to know “why” Powers felt compelled to make such a comment.
    But really, any truly interested person need look no further than Hillary’s support for Israel’s monstrous policies to find the label “monster” as an apropos description.

    Reply

  19. Lydia says:

    I can understand the human side, that people make mistakes and say things they shouldn’t. That is likely what happened to Powers. But the fact is, she said it on the national stage in one of the most tightly contested races in the Democratic party in recent history. And she had to go.
    Imagine, for a moment, that a Hillary person had said “monster” about Obama. Or some other equally charged word that played right into a Republican-led series of attacks on him. And could be seen as kind of racist in the bargain. Then you see the import of this.

    Reply

  20. Will Bower says:

    1. Most of the world still -loves- Bill Clinton. Should he indeed
    be our “Ambassador to the World”, there is great work that he
    can do.
    2. Hillary Clinton is no ‘monster’. How can you be as
    sympathetic as you are, Steve, to someone who herself is not
    sympathetic at all?
    3. Yes, offering her a job would be high-handed of Hillary to
    do… but how does -not- doing so make Hillary “vindictive”,
    Bob?
    4. Steve. As someone else pointed out, you like that Powers
    wouldn’t be swayed by “emotional impulses”. Was that not
    exactly that the we saw from her this week?
    5. Steve, can you take down Robert Morrow’s post? I think
    McCain, Obama, and Hillary supporters alike can agree that it
    just doesn’t belong here in this forum.
    6. Tahoe. Perhaps Saddam was “evil” (although I rarely use that
    adjective), but was most certainly our ally in keeping
    Fundamentalist Islam in check.
    7. And, yes, Steve: Great new look! 🙂

    Reply

  21. bob h says:

    Yes, Hillary just seems vindictive, and should forgive Power. It may be that Hillary has construed some criticism of her husband’s behaviour during the Rwanda genocide and is paying her back. Driving good people away from politics because of small faux pax is really regrettable.

    Reply

  22. Robert Morrow says:

    Samantha is right. Hillary is a MONSTER. And it all flows from Hillary’s and Bill’s behavior and they way they use and violate people. I don’t agree with Obama on many things, but at least he won’t crack your kneecap to get to the White House.
    Obama is a classy guy. Hillary and Bill are the Ultimate in White Trash. Who in the world would work for those people and take that kind of abuse as well as be asked to regularly defend the indefensible, which is just another day in the life of a Clinton lackey.
    I recently heard Michael Savage on the radio belittling some guy because he said Obama was a nice guy when he used to come into his sandwich shop 17 years ago.
    17 years ago, Bill was pulling out his c__k and telling Paula Jones to “Kiss it.” And then the Clintons go on a search and destroy mission of Paula Jones when she dares sue wild Bill for sexual harassment. To this day, Bill says he has never EVEN MET Paula Jones. She said his face was all red and he was talking “horny-like” as he pulled out his member which was “crooked and hard and gross.”
    Hillary’s response is to send out James Carville to the press and paint her as trailer trash. “Drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you might find”
    I think Hillary and Bill are the Ultimate in White Trash. What do you think?

    Reply

  23. Tahoe Editor says:

    In defense of Steve:
    1. W’s emotional impulse (Saddam tried to kill my daddy) was a big player
    2. Saddam was evil.

    Reply

  24. JohnH says:

    C’mon Steve, get real! The Bush administration never made the “mistake of allowing…emotional impulse to challenge evil.” I can’t believe that a respectable, foreign policy expert would still be gullible enough to believe Bush’s rhetoric about evil. That canard was purely for public consumption and its intent was to dehumanize and demonize the enemy. The attack on Iraq was for coldly commercial and strategic reasons, having nothing to do with “evil” and everything to do those mysterious “vital strategic interests” that politicians and foreign policy experts dare not name.
    Since when are the gang of former oilmen occupying the White House more concerned about evil than oil?

    Reply

  25. Roland says:

    It’s *faux pas*, not faux pax.

    Reply

  26. CathiefromCanada says:

    Speaking as a non-American, I believe the world now thinks America needs to get its own house in order before telling the rest of the world what to do. America is not the shining city any longer. When you have universal health care, anti-poverty programs, sensible drug laws, a livable minimum wage, and are seriously working on ending racism, then and only then will you have regained some moral authority in the world.

    Reply

  27. jim says:

    poa–
    good way…any more trojan horse “ideas”? still think obama is an enemy combatant? do you really believe HRC rode bareback thru the heavy mountains of tora bora in afghanistan hunting bin laden in 1998?
    Steve,
    I admire your diplomatic foreign policy views and respect your posting leanings towards clinton…not making an assumption,just my gut feeling(I know you are repulsed by “gut feelings”). I am surprised that you would believe that HRC would do anything other than what would benefit her in a quest for power? Offer Power a job? Very noble of you and sincerely speaks well of you as a person, yet the thought of HRC doing anything other than attempting to nudge/squeeze a benefit of the moment, brings a big smile to my face….hopefully HRC is playing the wrong game, sure seems like it, but time will tell…regardless of our differences I greatly admire your honorable actions.
    warm wishes,
    JM

    Reply

  28. p_lukasiak says:

    with all due respect, Steve, Powers is obviously suffering from Clinton Derangement Syndrome, and regardless of how smart and insightful she is, her inability to deal with the existence of Hillary Clinton in a rational manner disqualifies her from serious consideration for any important role.
    Maybe after she’s gotten some treatment, but right now Powers world view is so skewed because of her CDS that she’s useless.

    Reply

  29. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Temoc.
    You ask Steve what Powers’ position is in regards to the Armenian genocide resolution. Then, you commence to inform us, “presumably”, what Powers’ position is.
    In your comment above that, you insinuate a position for Powers on the Iraq invasion.
    Its no wonder you support Obama. You are equally as gifted at casting ethereal projections, based on fairy dust and hallucination. You should tone your message down to the simple projection of “hope” and “change”, without referring to specific arenas. It would be far more in keeping to Kumbaya Politics, and will leave your reader free to weave their own favorite fantasies into whatever point you are trying to obscure.

    Reply

  30. temoc94 says:

    I agree with Dan Kervick.
    Steve praises Samantha Power as someone who won’t “repeat the Bush administration’s mistake of allowing any emotional impulse to challenge evil and restore justice to trump the realities of costs, benefits, and strategy.”
    Climb down from the rhetoric for a moment. What is Power’s position the Armenian genocide resolution that annually comes before Congress?
    Presumably Power favors it — genocide is her issue — yet it flunks any calculation of costs and benefits.
    What are the resolution’s costs? The resolution pisses off Turkey, a country whose continued support is in America’s vital national interests.
    What are its benefits? The resolution is all about emotional impulses to restore justice. The genocide (and yes, there are real scholars of Ottoman history, such as Bernard Lewis, that dispute the characterization, but let’s call it that for the sake of argument) happened 100 years ago. It will not bring one single Armenian back to life, and in the here and now, it could endanger the real small scale improvements on the ground in relations between Turks and Armenians.
    The resolution is the very essence of allowing emotional impulses to restore justice to trump strategy.
    I liked Power’s book, but this is a major reason why I have qualms about Power’s role in a future Democratic administration.

    Reply

  31. temoc94 says:

    I ultimately don’t care that much about Power’s “monster” comments, fodder though they are for the late-night comedy circuit.
    But the implications of AMERICA IN AN AGE OF GENOCIDE can be truly frightening. At worst, these views paint Power as a neo-con.
    For instance, some people characterize Saddam Hussein’s persecution of the Marsh Arabs as genocide, as well as his persecution of shi’i following the First Gulf War.
    Does Power therefore argue that our intervention in Iraq was justified?
    Her book is interesting, but I am more comfortable with Obama’s candidacy now that she’s gone.

    Reply

  32. Carroll says:

    Someone should ask Powers “why” she thinks Hillary is a monster.
    Maybe she has a good story.
    “Why do you think that” is the question I would ask.

    Reply

  33. Dan Kervick says:

    Steve, you say:
    “Samantha Power is one of America’s major foreign policy thinkers who synthesizes moral imperatives and strategic thought. One of the weaknesses of the “global justice community,” in which Power is a major player, is a preference for prioritizing platitudes while not emphasizing serious costs and benefits in responding to highly complex challenges. In other words, confronting the early signs of genocidal trends requires agenda setting and a sober calculation of priorities.”
    “Samantha Power is a serious strategist who has a clear sense of the moral costs and benefits of American engagement in the world, and she brings much needed disciplined thinking to the global justice agenda. She should be in government and her voice is vital in any future government so as to not repeat the Bush administration’s mistake of allowing any emotional impulse to challenge evil and restore justice to trump the realities of costs, benefits, and strategy.”
    Do you have any actual evidence to offer in support of this fluff?

    Reply

  34. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Geez Steve, you don’t believe in heros, do you? Ask Hillary to give Powers a job? Hell, that would destroy my admiration for Powers’ honesty and courage, should she sign on with this status quo AIPAC lackey, and pseudo liberal monster, Hillary.
    I put Powers’ courage and honesty right up on the same pedestal I put Chavez’s sense of smell. Both demonstrate a sense of perception that is truly laudable.
    “If the Democrats stand any chance of improving U.S. foreign policy in the near term, while also positioning themselves to conduct it in the medium term, it will not be by making nice. It will be by adding another truth to the administration’s absolutist gospels: If you screw up monumentally, you — like those harmed in your wake — will pay a price.”
    Beautiful!!! Its time to stop pussyfootin’ around with these God damned criminals on BOTH sides of the aisle, and place their gonads on the fire.
    Go Powers!!!!

    Reply

  35. db1 says:

    First off: awesome site redesign Steve – looks great!
    Power’s resignation is unfortunate as is the faux outrage of the
    Clinton campaign. The ‘monster’ comment seems mild compared
    to many of the things coming from Hillary’s people.
    More depressing is the impossibility of discussing serious policy
    issues and implications (the BBC interview) during a campaign,
    without the other side distorting and quoting out of context in
    an attempt at ‘gotcha’.
    You can agree or not with what she said about Iraq withdrawal,
    but saying the actual policy will depend on conditions on the
    ground (at the time of implementation) seems self-evident to
    me.
    Politically her observation of the difficulty of doing that in the
    time-frame alloted (by Obama) is inconvenient, but again
    probably correct.
    Steve – do you think Obama considered it as a firing offense and
    pushed her, or do we take it at face value that she fell on her
    own sword on realizing she had become a (temporary) political
    liability to the campaign? Was it the combination of the two
    events that made it untenable for her to stay? Either one in
    isolation hardly seems like a firing offence.

    Reply

  36. DonS says:

    I am intrigued by the comparison of liberal/humanitarian interventionism versus conservative/democracy-spreading interventionism, and their respective cost/benefit approaches. (my summary)
    Is this a continuum, or are they totally different sets, with different goals, attitudes, skills, methods and intellectual requirements?
    A truly humanitarian interventionism to my mind, would be transformative, But it is anathema to the attitude and actual practice of the U. S. (except in the platitudes that many across the spectrum like to mouth about just how generous and wonderful the U. S. is to foreigners, seen mostly as undeserving of our imagined largesse). And I don’t think this attitude is representative only of the stingy, greedy on the right, especially in a time of relative economic hardship in this country. “Charity begins at home” is an almost universal reflex I would say.”
    To decouple humanitarian initiatives from political considerations would also be transformative. And although I think the long-term consequences of such commitment and decoupling would be immense, I doubt I’ll live to see it actualized in any significant way. We won’t even fully fund our UN obligations for God’s sake. It is, however, a nice academic study, and fleshing out the complexities, strategic implications and economic costs can, I imagine, keep more than one career going.
    Its pitiful, really, that for all those who rail against foreign aid, or who argue the niceties of budgetary implications, so many emerging international disasters (not to mention domestic needs) could be addressed and possibly arrested for the cost of — what? — a month or two supporting the slaughter in Iraq

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  37. WigWag says:

    Samantha Power knows what monsters are, she’s written a Pulitzer Prize winning book about them. For her, of all people, to use this term when describing Senator Clinton is more than a faux paux, it’s degenerate.
    No one is saying that this is a capital offense. But a little time in the wood shed and away from the corridors of power that she clearly craves will only serve to make her more sauve and more effective in the future.
    In the heat of campaigns, operatives say stupid things that they don’t really mean. We can forgive them, but the comments need to be criticized or our political discourse will become even more juvenile than it already is.

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  38. MarkL says:

    I have no basis on which to judge Powers’ academic work, but she’s clearly completely out of her league in national politics, which means there is no way she should be trusted with international negotiations.
    I also think her “CW” piece from back august was jejune. It’s completely incorrect to argue that there was a CW that invading Iraq was a great idea. There was a big split on the issue, and most of the non-neocons were at best tepid on the subject, with many of them strongly opposed.
    As I mentioned last night, her assertion that Hillary would plan to drop nuclear weapons if elected was really beyond the pale.
    Good riddance to Powers.
    For more of her lofty style, her is a snippet from another blog.
    “‘s a New Statesman article, can’t find it. I saved a portion I thought was interesting…. “Fuck!” she shouts. “I’m here, I’m in the wrong place.” If she sounds relaxed, humorous, it’s because she’s clearly confident. Plans have already been made for Clinton’s withdrawal. “If he does well,” she says, “one of the questions will be how to integrate the Clinton people. Because we want to maximise our technical expertise and be welcoming.” Not all will be greeted with open arms, however: veterans of Bill’s administrations, yes; others Power dismisses in pretty uncomplimentary terms. “We don’t want to end up in a lowest-common-denominator operation, which is what, I think, actually, really hurt her.” Twenty-five people on every call when setting policy, she explains, and too many people ready to caution “No, you can’t say that”.

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  39. Kathy K says:

    Thanks for putting Heilbrunn piece up–would have missed it.
    re his suggestion that Power will come to be seen as a ‘martyr’ to the (I hope lost) cause of reversing Obama’s policy of courtliness and self-restraint, I think he’s just wrong.
    She’s not a martyr, she’s a screwup. She showed no judgment in speaking to the press, and can’t even claim lack of experience. The BBC interview was a real jawdropper–a lot worse than the ‘monster’ remark, IMO
    Who is she to get out in front of the candidate to say what he will/wont do on the Iraq policy? What the hell does she know what he’ll do? To the BBC, for crissake. Geez.
    She just added another ‘cut’ in the ‘thousand-cut’ strategy the Clinton Mob is using against Obama, at a very sensitive moment in the campaign.
    Thanks, Tootsie. Go back to Harvard, and be d*mned.

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  40. JohnH says:

    I’ve been advocating a purge of the traditional foreign policy establishment for some time, for they tend to be arrogant nationalists with much regard for corporate interests and little interest in the common good. Under recent administrations, the ideals of human rights, freedom, and democracy have been degraded to mere talking points, rhetoric used to demonize challengers and muted when dealing with loyal tyrants.
    From the little I have read of Samantha Powers, she sounds like the kind of foreign policy expert who would bring an urgently needed, fresh perspective to the dreary halls of Foggy Bottom.

    Reply

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