Yesterday, Barack Obama nominated Samantha Power to be the next UN Ambassador. Since then, people have been poring through her writings to discover what she thinks about foreign policy. Unsurprisingly, they have not been very impressed.
Most likely, she will be confirmed. Since Senate Democrats successfully blocked the appointment of John Bolton for being too querulous and too pro-American, you can be confident that Senate Republicans, led by John McCain will roll over for Samantha Power. After all, she is a champion of American timidity and contrition.
Those who adhere to the Realpolitik school of foreign policy believe that America’s national interest should guide our foreign policy, even if it means that we occasionally have to deal with unsavory characters and betray our principles.
Among foreign policy thinkers Power is clearly a lightweight. Her thoughts seem more like feelings that analysis. She believes that America needs to abandon its position as the alpha nation and to join with all other nations in comity and amity.
She wants America to live according to its principles and ideals, regardless of whether it advances the national interest. Power considers America to be a criminal conspiracy that should apologize for its role in depriving people of freedom. By logical extension, past American leaders should be punished by the proper international agency.
In a 2003 New Republic article Power began her ruminations by denying the importance of American national interest. To her mind, foreign policy is akin to charity: it’s about doing good for others.
In her words:
The question today is whether the United States is structurally capable of using its tremendous power for the good of others.
This means that America should submit to the authority of European bureaucrats and third world “jurists” by joining the International Criminal Court and every other crackpot internationalist body. If we don’t then other nations will not like us. Imagine that!
She criticized the Bush administration:
With the unsigning of the Rome Treaty on the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the rejection of the Kyoto Protocol and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty-- coming on the heels of the prior American refusal to pay its U.N. dues and its prior rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the land mines ban, and other international treaties--the United States came to be seen less as it sees itself (the cop protecting the world from rogue nations) than as the very runaway state international law needs to contain.
To Power, the United States is a rogue nation. It is out of control and needs to be contained by international law.
Obviously, since America sits atop the world status hierarchy, every other nation wants to bring it low. Now, they have prospective UN Ambassador Samantha Power agreeing with them that America is a criminal nation that needs to be “contained.”
For those who don’t recall the Cold War, American policy at that time was called “containment.” Successfully implemented by both Democratic and Republican administrations, the policy led to victory over the Soviet Union.
When Power says that the United States is a runaway state that needs to be contained she is equating it with the Soviet Union.
Clearly, Power practices a malignant form of moral relativism. To her mind, there is no difference between the leader of Israel and Palestinian terrorist-sponsor Yassir Arafat. She bemoans the fact that we are not more evenhanded toward the Palestinians:
We will lambaste Yasir Arafat, investing significant political capital in regime change, but we will only ritualistically take issue with Ariel Sharon.
Power does not want to be seen as undermining American interests, so she pretends that a more pusillanimous attitude toward other nations will immediately cause them to become our best friends.
She believes that Islamic terrorism feeds on a diet of American abuses. You know, like the Youtube video that caused the terrorists to murder the American ambassador in Benghazi. She pays lip service to the evil of terrorism, only to add that terrorists hate America because America deserves to be hated:
President Bush is right about some America-bashers when he answers, "They hate our freedoms--our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other." Many terrorists are indeed nihilistic, anti-modern, or threatened by liberal values. But they depend for their sustenance on mainstream anti-Americanism throughout the world. Some anti-Americanism derives simply from our being a colossus that bestrides the earth. This resentment may be incurable. But much anti- Americanism derives from the role U.S. political, economic, and military power has played in denying such freedoms to others.
It takes an especially warped mind to believe that America has denied freedom to other people. Does anyone honestly believe that the Sharia-loving Islamic terrorists are trying to destroy America because we have denied them their freedom?
What should America do now? Power has the answer: we need to apologize, to come clean and to admit to all of our crimes… just as German Chancellor Willy Brandt apologized for Nazi atrocities:
We need: a historical reckoning with crimes committed, sponsored, or permitted by the United States. This would entail restoring FOIA to its pre- Bush stature, opening the files, and acknowledging the force of a mantra we have spent the last decade promoting in Guatemala, South Africa, and Yugoslavia: A country has to look back before it can move forward. Instituting a doctrine of the mea culpa would enhance our credibility by showing that American decision-makers do not endorse the sins of their predecessors. When Willie Brandt went down on one knee in the Warsaw ghetto, his gesture was gratifying to World War II survivors, but it was also ennobling and cathartic for Germany.
This is moral equivalence run amuck. Clearly, Power is comparing America to Nazi Germany. But, why does she smear our nation by comparing it to totalitarian, mass murdering regimes?
She ought also to have mentioned that the war criminals who governed Nazi Germany were tried and convicted in an international court. Many of them were sentenced to death.
Does Power, with her lust for membership in the International Criminal Court, want America’s political leaders to be put on trial in Brussels?
By her own reasoning, the first person who needs to be tried for war crimes is Bill Clinton. Not because of anything that Clinton did but because he stood by and did nothing while genocide was perpetrated in Rwanda. It’s worth noting that he was, at the time, relying on the counsel of Susan Rice, soon to be Obama’s National Security Advisor.
Power says that Clinton righted the wrong by apologizing. It made him a hero in Rwanda. They even named a Boulevard after him. To Power this constitutes foreign policy success. She does not say why Bill Clinton should not have been tried in the International Criminal Court for aiding and abetting genocide:
In 1994, the Clinton administration's only response to the extermination of 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu was to insist on the withdrawal of U.N. peacekeepers who were sheltering Tutsi there. In 1998, Clinton became the first American president to visit Rwanda, and he issued something of an apology: "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." I, like many, found his words lawyerly and evasive. Yet many Rwandans today can recite the apology verbatim. They say they were floored: He called the crime genocide, he paid his respects, and he took a measure of responsibility. In anticipation of another Clinton visit last fall, the Rwandans repaved the road connecting the airport with Clinton's hotel. Since his trip, Rwandans have begun calling it Clinton Boulevard.
You will be thinking: how come I never heard of this great Clintonian apology before? Why, if this event was so monumentally important in the moral calculus of international goodness did it not deter al Qaeda, or anyone else for that matter, from attacking America?
Amazingly, Power understands so little about foreign policy that she believes that American self-abasement will lead to world peace and harmony. In fact, it will be an invitation to another nation to become the alpha world power.
She does not understand that other nations want America to fail. They do not want to believe that they lost out to America in fair competition. They prefer thinking that America was an organized criminal conspiracy. They prefer making their people subservient and fear the day when their subjects decide that they want to emulate Americans. How better to do this than to plant the idea that America became the world’s leading hegemon by criminal activity.
Terrorists believe that America is a corrupt nation that needs to be brought down. They believe that their form of Islamism is morally superior. Now they have an empowered Samantha Power telling them that they are right.
I may be wrong, but I suspect that fearless Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will ask Power the tough questions and then allow her to be confirmed.