This article about Samantha Power by Manuel Roig-Franzia of the Washington Post is mainly an attempt to explain away the fact that the famous anti-genocide crusader faithfully serves an administration that has done essentially nothing in response to mass murder in Syria. Along the way we learn that, for Power, “boring” has never been “ok.”
This tidbit may explain a lot. Perhaps Power never really hated Israel; those anti-Israeli statements might simply have been an attempt to liven things up. So too with her comment that Hillary Clinton is “a monster.” We have always thought that Power likes to preen.
Unfortunately, however, Power has become boring. Her recent congressional testimony was worthy of Jay Carney.
The explanation for Power’s transformation is not difficult to fathom. As Roig-Franzia puts it, she has learned the “enduring value of keeping your mouth shut in the ultra-controlled Obama age.”
But can one remain an “[anti] genocide chick,” as Power likes to call herself, while serving quietly in an administration that won’t lift a finger against the Assad regime, even as 150,000 Syrians (so far) die, mostly at the hands of that regime? I don’t doubt that Power fought within the administration for a more robust response in Syria. But she clearly lost to more “pragmatic” insiders like Denis McDonough.
Accordingly, she has had to settle for small “victories” such as, in Roig-Franzia’s words, “toughening Obama’s human rights talking points for his historic 2012 visit to Burma and pushing for a strong U.N. resolution on human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.” In other words, talk rather than action.
When Roig-Franzia merely edged near the issue of the gap between Power’s anti-genocide rhetoric and Obama administration policy, Power “bristled.” As well she might.
Pushing successfully for tough words about human rights in Burma and Sri Lanka might do for your average boring bureaucrat. But they can hardly suffice for an anti-genocide chick.
Elliott Abrams is spot on in saying that “when the history of the Obama administration is written, there will be a long and damaging chapter on its immense humanitarian and strategic failure in Syria.” Power’s unwillingness to denounce, and break with the administration over, that failure will provide, at a minimum, a non-boring footnote.