By Edmond Y. Azadian
When Samantha Power published her award-winning book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, Armenians — along with human rights activists globally — believed that she had been sent from heaven to defend the underdogs — victims of genocides and human rights abuses. She was so factual, legalistic and passionate as not to leave any shade of doubt that she was the apostle of human rights and justice.
During President Obama’s first election campaign, she approached the Armenian community with written statements as well as You Tube videos that once elected, Mr. Obama would recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Rallying support from the Armenians and from different groups with human rights agendas, she helped Mr. Obama’s election and she was rewarded with a job at the White House, as special assistant to the president and senior director of multi-lateral affairs and human rights. She could have landed at a higher profile position had it not been for her earlier fallout with Hillary Clinton, whom she had called a “monster” in an interview with The Scotsman.
Today, as she is nominated as US representative to the United Nations, replacing the beleaguered Susan E. Rice, Ms. Power is a completely different political animal. She did not deliver on her pledge on the Armenian Genocide nor did she remind her boss of his solemn commitment on the issue. Instead, she resorted to the ruse of putting in Mr. Obama’s mouth the term used by the late Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory, “Medz Yeghern,” to avoid the use of the word genocide which has finite legal determinants. In his turn, Mr. Obama continued harping that he has not changed his stance on the issue, without, once again, defining that issue.
The Armenian Assembly issued a press release on June 7 outlining Ms. Power’s earlier activities and statements, which could portray her as an honest academic and human rights advocate, without any reference to her later dishonest political gymnastics, to be able to continue climbing on the ladder of political power. The above-mentioned press release concludes with the following statement: “The Assembly expects a robust US Senate confirmation process in the coming weeks.”
This kind of lopsided presentation is a disservice to the Armenian community.
The fact that a hawk and warmonger like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) has endorsed her nomination says a lot about Ms. Power’s turn-around.
More objective characterization about her and about Rice was made by Edward C. Luck, dean of the School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego and former senior United Nations advisor on peace-keeping issues. He said, “Five years ago you might not have been able to predict where they are now. They were both idealists, but they have both become practical idealists. Time in government does that to you.”
The same could be said about Obama.
As a senior member of Mr. Obama’s team we do not have a full account of what Ms. Power has said to Turkish leaders and what commitments she has made to them on behalf of the US government, but her betrayal of trust says much more about her selling her soul for career advancement. Her reversal of position on the Genocide issue and her steering of the president away from his pledge are all one needs to know about her character. The rest can be extrapolated from her activities which are in public records.
It is believed that Samantha Power and Susan Rice are the architects of the White House’s “humanitarian intervention” policy, which has convinced Mr. Obama to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi in Libya on “humanitarian grounds.” How much humanity Ms. Power has lost to advocate the invasion of a sovereign country, which to this day is gripped by carnage and political instability, even if we discount the assassination of the US Ambassador Chris Stevens, which was the direct outcome of that “humanitarian intervention.”
Eccentricities of Gaddafi aside, he had created the most egalitarian society in the Middle East, distributing oil income to his people, unlike the Aliyev dynasty which spends oil income on its opulent lifestyle, while millions of refugees are confined to the misery of shanty towns.
Mercenaries were sent to begin an uprising and NATO bombing completed the task by Genghis Khan-style assassination of Gaddafi on the TV news and the country was consigned to blood baths, which continue to this day. Thus, Ms. Power’s “humanitarian intervention” policy mission was accomplished.
The true test of humanitarian intervention was presented in 1994, when the UN peacekeeping commander warned that a genocide was imminent in Rwanda. The warning was ignored as 800,000 Tutsis were killed by their Hutus neighbors in a matter of 100 days. President Bill Clinton’s trip to Kigali — on whose watch the genocide was committed — to apologize for his non-intervention was disingenuous, too little and too late.
The most revealing opportunism of her political flip-flop was her reversal on the Israeli-Palestine issue. Before entering the government, she had stated that the US would need to make “mammoth” commitment to secure a Palestinian state,” “a move that could mean alienating American Jews,” according to the New York Times, a group she described as having “tremendous political and financial import.”
Ms. Power later on apologized for her comments about the human rights of the Palestinians to absolve herself in the eyes of Israeli lobbyists.
It is a sad commentary that any politician would stoop so low as to curry favors with lobbyists for career advancement. And indeed, she has won the nod of Israeli ambassador in Washington, Michael B. Oren, and Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. The latter has stated, “She has matured and moved on, and I look forward to working with her in the UN.”
The New York Times article suggests that by abandoning her views on Palestinian rights, she has paved her way for comfortable votes in the US Senate. “Ms. Power has also cultivated American Jewish groups, meeting in 2011 with 40 leaders of these groups, where she expressed her regret for some of her remarks and defended herself in emotional terms against charges that she had an anti-Israel bias,” the article reads.
If she has dropped Palestinian rights, there is no guarantee that she has not apologized to the Turkish leaders about her position on the Armenian Genocide.
It looks like Ms. Power will win an easy victory in the US Senate hearings and at best, we will send a hypocrite to the UN to represent US interests.
If we needed any additional proof that politics and morality are mutually exclusive, Ms. Power’s case will provide that.