Samantha Power Goes to War
Photo: Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power
By Tom Hayden
Progressive America Rising via the Nation
March 30, 2011 - Barack Obama’s war in Libya bears the intellectual imprint of Samantha Power, the Dublin-born human rights author who has risen to visible prominence in the White House hierarchy.
Power, who received a Pulitzer Prize for her 2003 book A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, came of age as a freelance reporter during the Bosnian wars, when she was in her early twenties. From there she attended Yale and Harvard Law School, becoming executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard. She is married to Obama appointee Cass Sunstein.
Power has made a remarkable career recovery since calling Hillary Clinton a “monster” during the 2008 presidential primaries. She resigned from the Obama campaign after that comment, but has returned to become a special assistant to the president and member of his National Security Council.
Over a long conversation with Power in December 2003, I was struck by the generational factor in her thinking. If she had experienced Vietnam in her early twenties, I felt, she would have joined the radical left, suspicious always of American power. But as an Irish internationalist witnessing death and destruction in the former Yugoslavia, she wondered how the United States could be neutral. She strongly favored the American intervention and air war that followed. I asked whether she would have favored the Clinton administration sending combat troops to battle the Serbs, a scenario which was in the works when Russia pulled its support from Belgrade, effectively ending that war. I didn’t get an answer, only the promise of “a long conversation” in the future.