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The selected writings of Samantha Power

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Ambassador Power, on right, with Paul Kagame

Samantha Power, right, with Paul Kagame of Rwanda on her twitter feed yesterday

August 3, 2014. Samantha Power, US ambassador to the United Nations, condemned an attack on a U.N. school in Rafah, Gaza. The statement faulted Hamas and did not mention the perpetrator, Israel, till the 160th word or so:

Today’s strike outside an UNRWA school in Rafah, where an estimated 3,000 people were taking shelter, is horrifying….  It is imperative that all sides work towards a ceasefire that ends the rocket attacks and tunnel threat from Hamas, and the perilous situation faced by civilians in Gaza.

We call on all parties to take all feasible precautions to prevent civilian casualties, comply with international humanitarian law and respect UN facilities in Gaza. We further call on Israel to conduct a full and prompt investigation of this incident as well as the recent strikes that hit other UNRWA schools…

August 1: Power tweeted the end of a ceasefire:

Strongly condemn attack on Israeli soldiers that broke ceasefire. Hamas must ensure immediate release of missing Israeli soldier.

July 30: Power gave a speech to Young African Leaders: 

[A]fter an especially dark couple weeks for me in my day job… grueling Security Council sessions on the heart-wrenching violence in Israel and Gaza—being here with you this evening on your last night is a true honor and it’s a bright light and has been on my calendar for some time.

July 24. Power condemned another strike on a UN school, this one in Beit Hanoun, that killed 17. Her only reference to Israel in the statement was as a victim of Palestinian attacks:

We are deeply concerned about reports of the striking of an UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun, in the Gaza Strip, today….

We condemn the use of these facilities to house rockets and launch attacks on civilians in Israel, and we emphasize that civilians seeking shelter in those facilities must be respected and protected, and that all parties comply with international humanitarian law.

July 22: Power gave a speech on the Middle East at the United Nations. The speech never put civilian killings at Israeli’s door. Hamas was to blame for civilian suffering:

Throughout the hostilities, we have consistently recognized Israel’s right to defend itself, whether through attacks by rockets overhead or tunnels below… Yesterday, in a single day, militants fired 155 rockets into Israel. In the two weeks of fighting, more than 2,000 rockets have been launched on Israel. On Sunday, Israel foiled another attempt by armed militants to use tunnels to sneak into the country and launch an attack. And then again, yesterday militants from Gaza entered Israel and killed four Israeli soldiers….

Militants in Gaza have repeatedly used civilian facilities for military purposes. Yesterday, a hospital in Gaza was struck by a tank shell, killing at least four people inside…

[G]iven a chance to help alleviate the suffering of Palestinian civilians, Hamas balked.

July 18. After Israel killed four Palestinian boys on the beach in Gaza in an atrocity seen by the world, Power gave a speech deploring violence against civilians. She began by slamming Hamas rocket attacks, and did so repeatedly. Israel only came up in a positive context.

The United States is deeply concerned about the rocket attacks by Hamas and the dangerous escalation of hostilities in the region. In particular, we are concerned about the devastating impact of this crisis on both Israeli and Palestinian civilians.

President Obama spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning to reaffirm the United States’ strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself. ..

The consequences of the rising violence are plain for all of us to see, and they are heart-wrenching. We feel profound anguish upon seeing the images of suffering from Gaza, including the deaths and injuries of innocent Palestinian civilians, including young children, and the displacement of thousands of people. Israeli civilians, including the elderly and children alike, are fleeing to shelters with little warnings to escape the barrage of rockets from Gaza…

The four Palestinian boys playing on the beach in Gaza City were like boys everywhere, restless for play. Their deaths are heartbreaking, and the loss their family members and neighbors must feel today must be searing. And the Israeli authorities have opened an investigation into their deaths.

2002. Power, who was then teaching at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, made her name by publishing the book, A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. While it is not clear that Israel’s actions in Gaza would fall within Power’s definition of genocide in the book, they would seem to be “genocidal” (as Noam Chomsky has put it); for Power often cites massacres and atrocities in considering official indifference to systematic violence of an ethnic character. Excerpts:

People have explained U.S. failures to respond to specific genocides by claiming that the United States didn’t know what was happening, that it knew but didn’t care, or that regardless of what it knew, there was nothing useful to be done. I have found that in fact U.S. policymakers knew a great deal about the crimes being perpetrated. Some Americans cared and fought for action, making considerable personal and professional sacrifices. And the United States did have countless opportunities to mitigate and prevent slaughter. But time and again, decent men and women chose to look away. We have all been bystanders to genocide. The crucial question is why….

Despite graphic media coverage, American policymakers, journalists, and citizens are extremely slow to muster the imagination needed to reckon with evil. Ahead of the killings, they assume rational actors will not inflict seemingly gratuitous violence. They trust in good-faith negotiations and traditional diplomacy. Once the killings start, they assume that civilians who keep their heads down will be left alone. They urge ceasefires and donate humanitarian aid…

U.S. officials spin themselves (as well as the American public) about the nature of the violence in question and the likely impact of an American intervention. They render the bloodshed two-sided and inevitable, not genocidal. They insist that any proposed U.S. response will be futile. Indeed, it may even do more harm than good, bringing perverse consequences to the victims and jeopardizing other precious American moral or strategic interests. They brand as “emotional” those U.S. officials who urge intervention and who make moral arguments in a system that speaks principally in the cold language of interests….
The sharpest challenge to the world of bystanders is posed by those who have refused to remain silent in the age of genocide. In each case a few Americans stood out by standing up. They did not lose sight of right and wrong, even as they were repeatedly steered to a “context” that others said precluded action. They refused to accept either that they could not influence U.S. policy or that the United States could not influence the killers. These individuals were not alone in their struggles, but they were not in crowded company either. By seeing what they tried to get done, we see what America
could have done…..

The most common response is, ‘We didn’t know.’ This is not true. To be sure, the information emanating from countries victimized by genocide was imperfect… But although US officials did not know all there was to know about the nature and scale of the violence, they knew a remarkable amount…

U.S. officials have been reluctant to imagine the unimaginable because of the implications. Indeed, instead of aggressively hunting for deeper knowledge or publicizing what was already known, they have taken shelter in the fog of plausible deniability. They have used the search for certainty as an excuse for paralysis and postponement….

In a democracy even an administration disinclined to act can be pressured into doing so. This pressure can come from inside or outside. Bureaucrats within the system who grasp the stakes can patiently lobby or brazenly agitate in the hope of forcing their bosses to entertain a full range of options. Unfortunately, although every genocide generated some activism within the U.S. foreign policy establishment, civil and foreign servants typically heeded what they took to be presidential indifference and public apathy. They assumed U.S. policy was immutable, that their concerns were already understood by their superiors, and that speaking (or walking) out would only reduce their capacity to improve the policy…

George Bernard Shaw once wrote “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” After a century of doing so little to prevent, suppress, and punish genocide, Americans must join and thereby legitimate the ranks of the unreasonable.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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45 Responses

  1. atime forpeace on August 5, 2014, 11:48 am

    Great article. For the most part anyone who wants to be in a governmental position in the U.S seems to know that the way to achieve their goal is to recite the mantras approved by the power behind the throne. Our press is another area where if one does not dance to the tune one gets pulled off of the stage.

    Michael Scheuer is really going hard here.

    • bilal a on August 5, 2014, 6:05 pm

      does anyone believe Bloomberg, Pritzker , and obama bode well for africa ?

      “Hosted by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Bloomberg Philanthropies head and former Mayor of New York Mike Bloomberg, the day long U.S.-Africa Business Forum gathers African heads of state, President Obama, and American and Africa CEOs around the continent’s dominant themes: business, investment, and job creation.”

      seems the model is oligarchs of the adelson-bloomberg type, purchasing democracy, with ample service workers in the bronx, and hipster apparatchiks playing the robot ideology guards of THX 1138.

      ‘please come back, you have nothing to fear’

  2. just on August 5, 2014, 11:51 am

    Blatant, shameless hypocrisy…thy name is Samantha Power.

    • American on August 5, 2014, 12:03 pm

      Powers is another ‘Ellis Island opportunist’…like most of the WWI and II gang who has inflitrated US positions to try and use US power to make up for their rage/angst over the weakness of Europe….besides of course being a political w**** and hypocrite.

      • Mooser on August 5, 2014, 1:11 pm

        “Powers is another ‘Ellis Island opportunist’…”

        Say what? I’m sorry, but you mind explicating “Ellis Island opportunist” for me. I don’t get out much, and it’s one I haven’t heard.

      • American on August 5, 2014, 8:28 pm

        Ellis Island Opportunist = those who brought along identities and agendas beyond bettering their own lives and becoming American.

        I could list 100 of examples but it’s late….however think Abrams, Feith, Perle, Kristol the whole zio cabal. Think Menedez who said his sole reason for entering politics was to make polices to free Cuba from Castro and prepare US economic policies for Cuba after it was freed and he could return to his real home in Cuba. And the rest of the Cuban cabal.


      • Mooser on August 5, 2014, 9:04 pm

        Is Ellis Island still in use, as a disembarkation point for immigrants?

      • amigo on August 5, 2014, 1:58 pm

        American , Ellis Island is no longer the preferred port of disembarkation for Irish opportunists.

        We have moved beyond the “No Irish wanted ” days .

        But I get your point about Samantha (give me) Power hypocrite.

        I also agree that our leaders are political cowards who do not represent ordinary Europeans.

      • American on August 6, 2014, 1:53 pm

        ” We have moved beyond the “No Irish wanted ” days .”

        Well I am part Irish descended but I do not– unlike some —have the slightest qualm about criticizing/attacking/exposing anything or one even if I could consider said thing or person ‘one of my own or ‘partly my own or ‘distantly related or ‘shared tribal DNA or ‘fellow club member or anything else.

  3. Marshall on August 5, 2014, 12:02 pm

    Really good piece, Phil.

  4. geofgray on August 5, 2014, 12:02 pm

    she’s irish. the irish-american pol boss flynn in the bronx –famous for “in like flynn”– said “Once bought I stay bought.” She can blame it on her genes.

    • just on August 5, 2014, 12:19 pm

      That’s a pretty bigoted comment– was it meant to be sarcastic or something?

      • Mooser on August 5, 2014, 1:13 pm

        I do belive that, if I am not mistaken and my memory serves me well, “In like Flynn” refers to the actor Errol Flynn’s abilities at charming the pants off women. But I don’t get out much.

      • RoHa on August 5, 2014, 1:47 pm

        Yes. And Errol Flynn was originally an Australian, not Irish. He later became an American. However, in Hollywood he referred to himself as Irish. Probably he did this because the Americans had weird romantic ideas about Ireland, and no ideas at all about Australia.

      • philweiss on August 5, 2014, 2:35 pm

        Flynn was a skiter and a bludger, who got out of WW2 for heart condition and was charged in California with luring underage girls on to his boat.

      • piotr on August 5, 2014, 3:13 pm

        This is libelous. Of course, we Americans know everything one needs to know about Australians: beer guzzling crocodile slayers, who convert kangaroos to roadkill using enormous bumpers. But those of these gentle creatures that did not make roadkill make their judiciary.

      • tree on August 5, 2014, 4:34 pm

        But those of these gentle creatures that did not make roadkill make their judiciary.

        Piotr, I always enjoy your unique sense of humor.

      • RoHa on August 6, 2014, 3:39 am

        Of course you know now, after Paul Hogan made a couple of educational films to bring you up to speed, but I was talking about Flynn’s time.

    • amigo on August 5, 2014, 2:05 pm

      “she’s irish.” Geofgray.

      I am “Irish” too.

      Once not bought, I stay unbought.

      Nothing to do with my Genes.

      Your comment is insulting and an excercise in stereotyping.

  5. Donald on August 5, 2014, 12:09 pm

    This isn’t even half of it as far as the subject of Power’s hypocrisy is concerned–her genocide book is mainly about US sins of omission and not the sins of commission. She was a darling in the mainstream because of this. Noam Chomsky, who wrote about our sins of commission, is not. There’s no chapter about East Timor in her book (just a footnote) and no chapter on Guatemala. No chapter on the sanctions on Iraq. She explains why the mass murder of people for their political beliefs was not included in the legal definition of genocide (Stalin had objections for some reason, though as it happens he was guilty of the crime even as defined) but she has no chapter on one of the biggest genocides not defined as genocide in the 20th century–Suharto’s slaughter of real and alleged communists, to the cheers of America and probably with assistance from the CIA.

  6. Sand on August 5, 2014, 12:14 pm

    Samantha Power back in 2002. How she’s changed.

    • philweiss on August 5, 2014, 4:18 pm

      Here’s a partial transcript of her remarks. Very germane. Samantha Power:

      “in the Palestine Israeli situation there’s an abundance of information. And what we don’t need is some kind of early warning mechansim there.

      “What we need is a willingness to actually putting something on the line in terms of helping the situation. And putting something on the line might mean alienating [laughing nervously] a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import. It may mean more crucially sacrificing or investing I think more than sacrificing literally billions of dollars not in servicing Israel’s you know military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine, in investing the billions of dollars it would probably also take to support I think what will have to be a mammoth protection force. Not of the old Srebrenica kind or the Rwanda kind, but a meaningful military presence. Because it seems to me, at this stage, and this is true of actual genocides as well, and not just major human rights abuses which we’re seeing there– that is that you have to go in as if you’re serious. You have to put something on the line and unfortunately imposition of a solution on unwilling parties is dreadful.”

  7. joemowrey on August 5, 2014, 12:19 pm

    Powers is just one more example of the type of sociopath who rises to positions of influence and power in our society. She has no social conscience, lacks the ability to empathize, and will say and do whatever it takes to advance and support her own interests and belief structure no matter what the cost to others. The way she crafts her statements for the greatest pro-Zionist (and pro-Samantha) impact while attempting to give the appearance of compassion and objectivity is chilling. Yet she probably considers herself a normal, dedicated functionary of the system. She personifies the banality of evil.

  8. Abierno on August 5, 2014, 12:40 pm

    Well said. This article is an excellent complement to the Vox article on the ratios of Palestine to Israeli deaths. Also, the whistleblower who reported that many of the civilians deaths in Gaza were revenge has been arrested.

  9. American on August 5, 2014, 12:58 pm

    I am tired of this Ellis Island opportunist too and tired of the zionist living in America and calling themselves American……he can criticize the US all he wants, I do it even more , but I am an American he is not.
    Beinart and the others like him are ”identity borrowers” who borrow the American label under the pretense he is criticizing his ‘own’. Well, he’s not one of our own…zionist arent Americans.
    Americans who condemn evil US gov and actions and even US society dont do ‘whataboutery”…..we at least have the honesty and cojones to call it and name it like it is without resorting to the whiney ”johnny did it too mommie” excuses.

    ”What would U.S. do if under rocket attack? A double standard worth examining
    The American response to threats from the Middle East may make Israel’s actions in Gaza look tame, but is that enough to justify them?”


    ‘’Americans who want Israelis to challenge their country’s blockade and military campaign in Gaza because Gazans are suffering are asking Israelis to live up to a standard we rarely meet ourselves.

    Think about it this way: Hamas is a violent, frighteningly illiberal movement whose terrorist attacks enjoy some popular support from a population chafing under occupation. So is the Taliban. American critics want Israelis to focus not merely on Hamas’ brutality, but also on the underlying occupation that fuels it. But how many mainstream American commentators apply that same standard when the Taliban kills our troops?

    All of which is to say that when Israelis complain about a double standard, they have a point. That doesn’t mean Israel’s behavior is justified (I don’t think it is) – only that it passes the depressingly low standard that America, when responding to threats in the Middle East, generally sets for itself. ‘’

    • Mooser on August 5, 2014, 1:18 pm

      “I am tired of this Ellis Island opportunist too “

      Yes, but it’s nice that you represent the Native American peoples so vociferously. Don’t let those opportunist drive you down the trail of tears, American!
      Bury my heart at Replacement Knee!

      • Betsy on August 5, 2014, 1:37 pm

        Good one, Mooser!!

  10. LanceThruster on August 5, 2014, 12:59 pm

    Bearing witness means we remember… but memory is not enough.
    Bearing witness means giving testimony… but statements are not enough.
    Bearing witness means learning from history… but knowledge is not enough.
    Bearing witness must also mean acting against evil.”

    Robert B. Zoellick, Deputy Secretary of State, April 27, 2006

  11. Bandolero on August 5, 2014, 1:15 pm

    Thank you for this article showing the moral bankruptcy of Samantha Power.

    Her behaviour is no surprise. A year ago Nima Shirazi reported this:

    Samantha Power Boosts Israel’s Cause
    July 20, 2013

    The safest way for any U.S. foreign policy nominee to win Senate confirmation is to pander to Israel’s interests and to bluster against its enemies. That was the route Samantha Power took in her bid to win confirmation as the new U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, reports Nima Shirazi.

    To read further:

    Some time ago I read, but I can’t remember where, that when Samantha Power was given the US ambassador job of securing Israel’s interest at the UN it was a kind of consolation gift by the Obama administration to Netanyahu after Obama boxed Hagel through the nomination for defense secretary against the will of Netanyahu and the lobby.

  12. chet on August 5, 2014, 2:46 pm

    With respect to Power referencing the downing of the Malaysian airliner:

    — why haven’t there been any reports about the black boxes?

    — why haven’t there been any further reports of the bullet holes in the cockpit that the Canadian OSCE observer reported seeing?

  13. piotr on August 5, 2014, 3:20 pm

    I am not sure if Powell started as social climber or with genuine humanitarian concern. According to reviews etc. I have seen, her book about the genocide did not raise the example of Indonesia where 500 thousands to million were slaughtered during CIA encouraged coup, and huge numbers were put in concentration camps for decades. If selecting victims to slaughter on socio-political grounds is OK, than Stalin, Mao and Pol-Pot were OK too. Allegedly, USA cannot be accused of “doing nothing” during Indonesian slaughter, CIA supplied the leaders with its list of suggestions (persons who should be disposed).

    • lysias on August 5, 2014, 5:51 pm

      And guess what well-known CIA-associated people were in Indonesia during the Year of Living Dangerously: Obama’s mother and Indonesian stepfather (the latter admitted he was responsible for killing lots of people). Obama himself was there too, as a boy, and there are reasons for thinking the CIA later advanced at least his early career.

  14. piotr on August 5, 2014, 3:25 pm

    This is totally off-topic, so perhaps it should be removed by the moderator(s). Does anyone know the source of the following quote I have once seen:

    And what a nice girl you will find her!
    Why, she will pass for forty two,
    In the dark, with the light behind her!

    • just on August 5, 2014, 4:37 pm

      “And a very nice girl you will find her!
      She may very well pass for forty-three
      In the dusk, with a light behind her!”

      • MHughes976 on August 5, 2014, 4:54 pm

        The short 1875 Gilbert and Sullivan operetta ‘Trial by Jury’ features an action for breach of promise of marriage. The jury is made up of people who have disreputable pasts and the judge is particularly dodgy. The description refers to the wife of the judge, whom he had somehow ‘thrown over’ once she had served his purposes in getting her rich father to promote his career. He ends up marrying the plaintiff in the trial. It may not be entirely on our topic but like much of Gilbert’s writing it shows how disingenuous and oddball people in power can be, which is worth remembering in almost every context.

      • just on August 5, 2014, 5:31 pm


        “It may not be entirely on our topic but like much of Gilbert’s writing it shows how disingenuous and oddball people in power can be, which is worth remembering in almost every context.”

        oh yes it does.

      • piotr on August 5, 2014, 8:36 pm

        Thanks. I noticed that Samantha, still slim at her 43, looks unusually well in the photo where the light is behind her.

      • just on August 5, 2014, 9:02 pm


  15. Chu on August 5, 2014, 4:17 pm

    These people are like Powers are soo tiring. You wonder is it bribery or just taboo that keeps them from being so pathetic.

    CNN did the same routine these last weeks when Israel was shelling Gazan buildings. The CNN reporters in Gaza were saying they just witnessed (or heard) a loud explosion- as if some generator in Gaza blew up on account that it wasn’t properly serviced.

    They cant seem to say the IDF just dropped a massive bomb into a civilian neighborhood. That doesn’t work for TV land zombies in the US. We should be made aware of the children which are dying while the media aims to sweep it under the rug. Andrew Sullivan has a link to a picture of a young girl who did not make it in Gaza.

  16. Kay24 on August 5, 2014, 4:31 pm

    Her bias is So obvious. Shameless actually. The constant reassurances to Israel that it has the right to defend itself, and the constant blame on Hamas and the Palestinians, even when Israel has once again resorted to war crimes, is pathetic. I notice this same pattern when zionist shills are interviewed. ISRAEL bombs 7 UN shelters, are given countless notifications of the fact that it is housing civilians taking shelter, yet goes ahead and bombs it, and Hamas is to be blamed for that bomb and the slaughter of innocents. Would Israel have bombed that shelter if Israelis were sheltering there?
    Samantha Powell is simply protecting Israel and casting blame on the victims here, just like the rest of Washington.

  17. ckg on August 5, 2014, 5:42 pm

    Phil, I think you are being generous when you say Power ‘condemned’ the UN school bombings in Beit Hanoun and Rafah. She never utters the words ‘condemn’ or ‘condemnation’ except to refer to presumed Hamas activity. One can be ‘horrified’ without necessarily impugning the perpetrator’s character. And Jen Psaki today said, “even one civilian casualty is horrific”. It’s diplomatic equivocation.

  18. charlesfrith on August 5, 2014, 6:49 pm

    Married to Cass Sunstein. Power is 100% Zionist world order.

  19. michelle on August 5, 2014, 6:54 pm

    little girl lost
    hope one day this woman
    finds that truthful little girl
    G-d Bless

  20. DICKERSON3870 on August 6, 2014, 1:29 am

    RE: “The four Palestinian boys playing on the beach in Gaza City were like boys everywhere, restless for play. Their deaths are heartbreaking . . . And the Israeli authorities have opened an investigation into their deaths.” ~ Samantha Power (aspiring to be U.S. Secretary of State)

    THAT REMINDS ME: I wonder how much progress Israel has made in the “thorough and transparent investigation” the US State Department said it expects Israel to make* into the videotaped shooting/murder by the Israeli military of the two Palestinian teenagers during the Nakba Day protests outside Ofer prison in the West Bank back on May 15 (nearly 3 months ago).

    * SEE – “US to Israel: Investigate killing of Palestinian teens”, by Yitzhak Benhorin,, 5/21/14
    Following release of footage documenting killing of two Palestinians near Ramallah, US State Department spokesperson says US expects Israel to ‘conduct a thorough and transparent investigation’.
    LINK –,7340,L-4521979,00.html

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