A follow-up to my post yesterday about the troubling views of one of Barack Obama’s top foreign policy advisers, Samantha Power. In 2002 she sat for an interview with Harry Kreisler, the director of the Institute for International Studies at Berkeley. Kreisler asked her the following question:
Let me give you a thought experiment here, and it is the following: without addressing the Palestine – Israel problem, let’s say you were an advisor to the President of the United States, how would you respond to current events there? Would you advise him to put a structure in place to monitor that situation, at least if one party or another [starts] looking like they might be moving toward genocide?
Get a load of Power’s response:
What we don’t need is some kind of early warning mechanism there, what we need is a willingness to put something on the line in helping the situation. Putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import; it may more crucially mean sacrificing — or investing, I think, more than sacrificing — billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine, in investing the billions of dollars it would probably take, also, to support what will have to be a mammoth protection force, not of the old 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 were seen there), you have to go in as if you’re serious, you have to put something on the line.
Unfortunately, imposition of a solution on unwilling parties is dreadful. It’s a terrible thing to do, it’s fundamentally undemocratic. But, sadly, we don’t just have a democracy here either, we have a liberal democracy. There are certain sets of principles that guide our policy, or that are meant to, anyway. It’s essential that some set of principles becomes the benchmark, rather than a deference to [leaders] who are fundamentally politically destined to destroy the lives of their own people. And by that I mean what Tom Freidman has called “Sharafat.” [Sharon-Arafat; this is actually an Amos Oz construction -- NP] I do think in that sense, both political leaders have been dreadfully irresponsible. And, unfortunately, it does require external intervention.
Just so we’re clear here: Power said that her advice to the President would be to 1) “Alienate” the American Jewish community, and indeed all Americans, such as evangelical Christians, who support the state of Israel, because 2) Israeli leaders are “destroying the lives of their own people.” 3) Pour billions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money into “the new state of Palestine”; 4) Stage an American ground invasion of Israel and the Palestinian territories — what else can she mean by a “mammoth protection force” and a “military presence” that will be “imposed” by “external intervention”? — in order to do the exact same thing that she considers the height of arrogance and foolishness in Iraq: an American campaign to remake an Arab society.
Note that this wasn’t her response to a question about her personal views of the conflict, or about what she envisions might be a utopian solution to the conflict; it was a response to a question about what she would tell the President of the United States if she was his adviser. Yesterday Barack Obama took a large stride toward the presidency–helped in some small measure by the speeches on behalf of the Obama campaign that Power has delivered–and it is time that someone asked him, while he is still a candidate, what he thinks of the perverse things his many foreign policy advisers have said about Israel and the Middle East.
As Samantha Power herself acknowledged, there is “a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import” that would like to know where Obama stands on these matters.