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SAMANTHA POWER-LESS IS RENDERED SPEECHLESS

by Rafael Medoff April 19, 2017

(Dr. Rafael Medoff is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and author or editor of 16 books about the Holocaust and Jewish history.)
 
 
The rise of Samantha Power to the position of senior adviser to President Barack Obama gave anti-genocide activists hope that U.S. policy toward atrocities around the world would finally change. Surely the author of a Pulitzer Prize winning book about the history of American indifference to genocide would make it her business to put an end to such apathy. Instead, Power spent seven years defending America’s continued inaction—and now that a new president has taken military action against mass murder, Power has fallen silent.
 
As the Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights on the National Security Council (starting in 2009), head of the Atrocities Prevention Board (beginning in 2012), and then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (as of 2013), Power was well situated to alter the pattern of U.S. disinterest she documented in her book, ‘A Problem from Hell’: America and the Age of Genocide.
 
It soon became apparent, however, that even with Power in its innermost  leadership circle, the Obama administration’s response to genocide would largely echo the indifference of its predecessors when faced with mass murder around the world.
 
The administration’s refusal, from the start, to acknowledge that the World War One-era slaughter of the Armenians was genocide (despite President Obama’s explicit campaign promise to recognize it as such) was troubling. Admittedly, that disappointment involved a symbolic issue with no real-world consequences. But the decision to choose political convenience (not offending Turkey) over principle was a bad omen.
 
Sure enough, the resumption of attacks by Sudanese government-sponsored Arab militias on non-Arab civilians in Darfur in 2010 was met by U.S. silence, as was the wave of "mass atrocities that echo Darfur" in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains that Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times reported in 2012. The International Criminal Court indicted Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir for genocide, but the Obama administration took no steps to bring him to justice—and would not even publicly criticize the Arab and African regimes that continued to host visits by Bashir.
 
This is not to say Power accomplished nothing during her years on the Obama team. For example, she reportedly helped convince President Obama to take part in the Allied attacks that ousted Libya’s Muammar Qadaffi in 2011, when the Libyan leader was planning to perpetrate out what Mr. Obama called a mas
 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

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