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Shrewdly positioned as Syrian interventionist, Samantha Power has neocon backing

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Samantha Power, President Obama’s nominee to be ambassador to the United Nations, has gotten a key Establishment constituency on her side. Neoconservatives support her, because she has pushed intervention in Syria.

The other night Bob Dreyfuss of the Nation was on public television arguing against Syrian intervention because “the US has a history of  bumbl[ing] into a country that it really doesn’t understand the dynamics of, and unleash[ing] a force that it doesn’t control.”

Dreyfuss was opposed by a fellow from the neoconservative Hudson Institute, who dropped an impressive name: Samantha Power.

MICHAEL PILLSBURY: But you also have to focus on the humanitarian side. If you read Samantha Power’s book, you see, standing aside, to do what Bob Dreyfuss recommends, we stand aside and do nothing, we are not going to have a peaceful cease-fire.

A million people are going to die. That is the reason for the intervention. I support what President Obama has decided. And I think Bob Dreyfuss and others had better get on board. That debate is over. We are involved now. The question is, how to be effective, how to win.

This shrewd positioning of Samantha Power was also reflected in a long piece in the New York Times two weeks ago, characterizing Power as a frustrated hawk on Syria. The friend who sent it along says the piece achieved two ends: it gave “a luster to Syria intervention” and by demonstrating Power’s “apparent (though until now private?) support for the intervention, it will help her chances as mainstream ultra-legitimate nominee.” From Mark Landler’s Times report:

Friends of Ms. Power’s say that as a senior director on the National Security Council, she argued for a more robust response to Syria — an argument that finally gained traction, months after she left, with Mr. Obama’s recent decision to begin supplying small arms and ammunition to the rebels.

The piece tracked Power’s “signature project, the Atrocities Prevention Board, a high-level White House task force that Ms. Power urged President Obama to create in 2012 and then served as chairwoman of for its first year.” 

Meeting monthly in the White House Situation Room or the Old Executive Office Building, Ms. Power’s board has wrestled with how to stop a wave of anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar, politically motivated clashes in Kenya and the terrorism campaign of Joseph Kony, the guerrilla leader in Central Africa accused of enslaving children.

The board has prodded Mr. Obama to raise the issue of the treatment of Muslims with the president of Myanmar, Thein Sein. It pushed for war-crimes legislation that enabled the United States to offer a reward of up to $5 million for tips leading to the capture of Mr. [Joseph] Kony [accused of enslaving children in Central Africa]. And it took part in a decision to send civilian experts to Kenya before elections last March to help quell violence.

What it did not do is change Mr. Obama’s response to the biggest atrocity of the day, the Syrian civil war. He has steadfastly resisted deeper involvement, even as the death toll has surpassed 90,000. That has made the board an easy target for conservatives, as well as some genocide scholars, who condemn it as toothless..

Current and former administration officials said it was naïve to think that an interagency board could shift American policy on Syria, given the enormity and strategic sensitivity of the crisis and that it was already raging when the board was formed.

“It is unrealistic for a new entity that has no real authority to galvanize the government on Syria,” said Lanny A. Breuer, a former assistant attorney general who represented the Justice Department on the board until earlier this year. “But what it can do is to raise awareness.”

Ms. Power, Mr. Breuer said, brought a “boldness and level of commitment that was impressive.” She handpicked the board’s members from 11 agencies including the Treasury Department and the C.I.A., and she led meetings that were unusually well attended, another member said, thanks to her intensity.

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31 Responses

  1. Tzombo
    July 8, 2013, 12:55 pm

    Great, just what you’d like in a UN ambassador: warmongering.

    • Krauss
      July 9, 2013, 12:58 am

      Samantha Powers is trying to brand herself a ‘humanitarian’.

      But if you look closer, you see her actively wooing right-wing Zionists by tears running down her cheeks proclaiming that they have “moral leadership”.

      Samantha Powers is a study in being a sellout.

  2. Dan Crowther
    Dan Crowther
    July 8, 2013, 1:35 pm

    but look, even your boy Dreyfuss doesn’t “reject” on principle US intervention, just that “we” don’t fully comprehend what “we’re” doing etc etc. What a bunch of BS.
    All Dreyfuss is saying is, “we” aren’t “thorough” enough (read: there aren’t enough of him at the top levels of planning) to carry these aggressions out.

    there’s very, very little difference here. and i should say again, this is just another excercise in “who’s a better nationalist” – the “non interventionists” vs “the interventionists”, all chasing after that undefined, sham, “national interest.”

    • American
      July 8, 2013, 2:35 pm

      @ Citizen

      They are actually ‘internationalist’ not nationalist.
      This nation is their ‘instrument’ , not their ‘interest”

      • Citizen
        July 8, 2013, 7:33 pm

        @ American
        What is this about? Why are you addressing me? I made no comment on this thread until this one. Are you saying the OWS-referenced 1% is international, not merely domestic? If so, I agree with you.

      • American
        July 9, 2013, 12:28 pm

        @ Citizen

        I wasnt really addressing , just adding something to the nationalist thing but yea I agree the 1% is more international than in they have no national interest except what benefts just them…and to hell with the country.

    • Rusty Pipes
      Rusty Pipes
      July 8, 2013, 2:46 pm

      There’s enough difference here that I would definitely prefer someone like Dreyfuss advising Obama over Power. Dreyfuss is introduced as the author of Devil’s Game: How the US Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. Later in the interview he says:

      ROBERT DREYFUSS: Yes, well, by all accounts, we just know that these Syrian rebels, the majority of them, are, in fact, one or another strain of radical Islamists, especially the best fighters.

      And the idea that we understand Syria well enough to vet and pick and choose which of these rebels who we would support is ludicrous. We didn’t understand Iraq when we went in there.

      We didn’t understand Afghanistan in 2001, when we went in there. And I would argue we still don’t. And we certainly don’t understand Syria in terms of its internal dynamics.

      I don’t see what the United States has to gain by supporting rebels, especially when there is a diplomatic path out of that, and that would start, by the way, with us putting pressure on Qatar and Saudi Arabia to wind down their support for the rebels, and then draw them and Assad into this Geneva peace conference, which the United States and Russia are trying to put together. And Iran could play a role in that too.

      • Dan Crowther
        Dan Crowther
        July 8, 2013, 3:07 pm

        yeah cool Rusty – “Im not opposed to war, I’m opposed to dumb wars” right?

        Barry gets the advice he wants, people should start their search for the truth from there.

      • Citizen
        July 8, 2013, 7:36 pm

        Barry says, as he told the Israeli students while in Israel last, that he needs a big push from the grass roots to do anything. He’s not exactly of JFK rhetoric.

  3. American
    July 8, 2013, 2:30 pm

    I dont fault Powers for her humantarian crusading but dont think it belongs in top US postions. There ‘s a little something else think she shares with those like Marie Slaughter—their European raised or mixed formative years ideas on FP and that the super power US is the country to implement their ideas.

    I remember reading an intervew with Slaughter in which she said her politics were formed over dinners with Europeans in her mother’s home country of Beligum and that America didn’t understand what it’s policies should be and talking about slow intervention in WWII and so forth.

    These kinds of crusader interventonist believe that US power and resources are totally unlimited and we could and should intervene in e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.
    They want the US to be the UN —with a military to back it up.
    Just like the neo cons and I-firsters they have no concern for what this cost 99% of the country.

    • Citizen
      July 8, 2013, 7:38 pm

      Well, maybe 98% of the country. Or even up t0 95% of the country. Use the CBO income gap graph for the last 30 years as your general guide.

  4. gingershot
    July 8, 2013, 5:56 pm

    Samantha was assimiliated by the BORG Israeli Lobby, just as Obama was

    It’s their way or the highway

    • James Canning
      James Canning
      July 9, 2013, 2:29 pm

      @gingershot – – Israel lobby certainly shut down Obama’s early effort to stop the growth of the illegal Jewish colonies in the West Bank. And in so doing, undermined the national security of the American people. What a surprise.

  5. James Canning
    James Canning
    July 8, 2013, 6:25 pm

    The military establishments in Britain, France and the US are reluctant to impose a “no-fly” zone over Syria, as it would drag them into the civil war.

  6. James Canning
    James Canning
    July 8, 2013, 6:36 pm

    Michael Pillsbury is an ardent advocate of idiotic levels of “defence” spending by the US. Year after year after year.

    When Gorbachev came into power in the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s, he immediately sought ways to extricate the USSR from its quagmire in Afghanistan. The US should have facilitated this effort. Pillsbury pushed for arming the insurgents with Stinger missiles. (Later, the US paid up to $1 million per missile, to buy them back.)

    • Denis
      July 9, 2013, 10:00 am

      James, the historical thread you raise is disturbing in its persistence and repetition.

      Pillsbury was the Reaganite clown who teamed up with loser/boozer/womanizer Democrat congressman Charlie Wilson to deliver hundreds of millions of USD in military gear into the hands of the mujahideen, including the Stinger missiles.

      Pillsbury is the person most closely associated with the disastrous “Reagan Doctrine” [next to Reagan, of course] of indiscriminately arming anyone who breathed as long as they opposed the Soviets. His buddy Wilson was one of the most enthusiastic Reagan-era I-firsters and liberal hawks, and a lot, if not most, of America’s problems today can be placed at the feet of Wilson and Pillsbury, including the rise of al-Qaeda, the subsequent 9/11, the subsequent Iraq War, the subsequent explosion of US debt, and America’s present descent into the police state it has become.

      In arming the Syrian rebels, Obama and his generation of liberal hawks and I-firsters are repeating history by committing America to uncertain long-term outcomes to achieve short-term goals to benefit Israel, just like Pillsbury/Wilson/Reagan did 30 years ago. War without end, IOW.

  7. just
    July 8, 2013, 7:33 pm

    I would like to see the US actually stand for peace & justice– in I/P! It’s number one in my book and the cause of much hell on earth for Muslims and Christians in the region.

    Smite our hypocrisy and our hegemonic ambitions, and much will improve.

    • James Canning
      James Canning
      July 9, 2013, 2:31 pm

      @just – – Are the so-called “hegemonic ambitions” a cover story for idiotic American support of Israel right or wrong?

  8. Helena Cobban
    Helena Cobban
    July 8, 2013, 7:44 pm

    I don’t think Samantha is ‘positioning’ herself here. This is what she believes.

  9. tommy
    July 8, 2013, 11:22 pm

    Ms. Power should concentrate on preventing atrocities committed by American force.

    • Donald
      July 9, 2013, 8:37 am

      “Ms. Power should concentrate on preventing atrocities committed by American force.”

      She did write about torture under the Bush Administration, but then many or most mainstream Democrats condemned that. That’s the key. There was political cover to write about Republican atrocities. But she works for Obama who decided we needed to look forward and not back when it comes to American war crimes, while going all out to prosecute whistleblowers.

      I think she has to know what a hypocrite she is–“A Problem From Hell” is so blatantly selective in its choice of genocides, covering the sins of omission and mostly ignoring the sins of commission. She mixes careerism and idealism, with careerism first. Maybe she tells herself that stopping the US from committing war crimes is just too difficult, while using US force against others is something that is much easier to advocate. She’s a perfect example of the sort of “idealist” that the political mainstream in the US finds acceptable.

    • Kathleen
      July 9, 2013, 9:23 am

      Tommy was thinking the very same thing. Start there Ms. Power’s. As the U.S. rolls right over piles of dead Iraqi people’s bodies and has the nerve to preach to others. The whole world is crying. Well except the majority of Americans who really do not seem to give a rats ass about what has gone on in Iraq as a direct consequence of the Bush administrations (voted for by Hillary Clinton, Biden) illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq. Obama, Reps and our MSM “turn the page, next chapter, move forward”

      Former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit Micheal Scheuer on Syria
      “Odds are that we are going to see the same old story: Obama will intervene militarily in Syria, get Americans worried about the safety of their soldier-children, stoke their patriotism and fierce support for the troops, and — voila — the Obama-butt-kissing media will refocus the victims of the Obama-ites’ domestic felonies on an unnecessary war in the Levant.”

  10. piotr
    July 9, 2013, 12:40 am

    There are several aspect to “crusader interventionism”.

    One is that USA lost capacity to impose its “model”. From American-centric perspective it is obvious that “our way of life” is superior. But is it? Point by point:

    1. Do Americans show a reliable way for a better economy and social development? Perhaps around 1950 that was true, New Deal at home, Marshall Plan abroad, although in banana republics it did not look that way.

    2. A superior model of government, “rule of law”, human rights.

    3. What else? Cousine? Music? Sports?

    The end result is that we are in Afghanistan for 10 years already and everybody hates us. American troops are killed by the very soldiers and officers they trained — and our stooge, Karzai. Basically, in Iraq and Afghanistan we supervised civil wars of those who hate us versus those who detest us.

    Syria is actually a special case because engagement there is singularly idiotic. It makes sense for Saudi Arabia and Qatar, but since when is USA a proselitic Salafist government? There was some “real politik” calculation of creating pro-American (and friendly to Israel) “Sunni axis” in opposition to anti-American Shia Axis. Very smart, but this idea contributed to undermining Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and is pretty unpopular in Turkey. Syrian Takfiris (I think it means denunciators) have a charming habit of posting videos of their atrocities, which may undermine Erdogan in Turkey.

  11. Kathleen
    July 9, 2013, 9:09 am

    “Friends of Ms. Power’s say that as a senior director on the National Security Council, she argued for a more robust response to Syria — an argument that finally gained traction, months after she left, with Mr. Obama’s recent decision to begin supplying small arms and ammunition to the rebels.”

    Such a myth that the Obama administration decision to supply arms and ammunition to Syrian rebels is “recent.”

    Great interview with the Independent’s Robert Fisk on Syria

  12. Kathleen
    July 9, 2013, 9:26 am

    Check this out. Seems like Congress is not going along. At least in public

    Congress Is Holding Up the Shipment of Arms to Syrian Rebels

    • James Canning
      James Canning
      July 9, 2013, 2:35 pm

      And Parliament apparently will not back David Cameron in supplying arms to insurgents in Syria.

    • jewishgoyim
      July 9, 2013, 7:45 pm

      Well, with the way Congress welcomed Netanyhu, it is clear that they would not have done so with the Israeli disagreeing. After Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood does not seem to be on a roll…

    • john_manyjars
      July 10, 2013, 4:57 am

      Only because Obama is in charge- if he had an ‘R’ as political affiliation, they’d be falling all over themselves to ship the rebels Stingers, RPGs etc.

      Both parties are stuffed to the gills with bloodthirsty filth.

  13. dbroncos
    July 9, 2013, 7:22 pm

    In the lead up to the Iraq war, the neocons boasted that Syria, Iran and Lebbanon would follow. Their agenda is still in play.

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