Sunday, February 24, 2008

Samantha Power, Obama and that word again.. hope


Here is an article about an interview with one of Obama's foreign policy advisers, Samantha Power, who "With her long, straight auburn hair, blue eyes and freckles, Samantha Power looks as though she has stepped out of a photograph of the Kennedy clan. She was born in Ireland, lives in Massachusetts and shares the admiration of America’s royal family for the candidate they regard as the new JFK. .... (Interesting introduction: she is not a Kennedy but she could easily be mistaken for one which is a good enough reason to include her in the same circle of "royalty")

Power shocked some friends by opposing the invasion of Iraq. “Some people said, ‘How could you write about genocide and not support the war?’ It felt like one was sentencing the Iraqi people to life imprisonment under a brutal regime.”

She decided, however, that there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein was planning a new round of slaughter and the costs and benefits of war were not worth the risk. Now she admits the question is: “If we leave, could it get worse?”

Power believes that Obama would do all he could to prevent large-scale civilian deaths by a meticulously planned withdrawal from Iraq. “If a systematic campaign of genocide were to unfold, he would try to get other countries to join the US to go back in order to stave it off. What you are talking about is a massive crime against humanity and the hope would be that humanity would step forward.”

How can this be considered even remotely well-thought out and responsible planning for the future of the Iraqi people? So Obama takes out the troops, the country collapses into the most ferocious civil war imaginable. At which point, America will turn to "humanity" ask them to intervene and stop the mutual slaughter? What precedent is there that "humanity" has ever stepped up to the plate to stop a genocide?

What is that Obama-sanctified word "hope" based on, except for sheer instinct to steer away from centres of troubles?

Hope is not a principle of policy. Hope does not change lived reality. Hope narcotizes when one should be most alert and in possession of one's faculties. Hope makes you feel good when you have no reason to feel good. Hope makes you forget that you need to do something, constructively, deliberately, to solve an urgent problem. "Hope" is not something I would wish to hear from world leaders when people are mass slaughtered, persecuted, bullied, terrorized.

Bob from Brockley, whose opinion I value, wrote this about Samantha Power:

(More hopefully, Obama is also advised by Samantha Power, whose fantastic "A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of Genocide is a powerful resource for cosmopolitanism and against realism. Power, incidentally, has been cruelly and inaccurately described as an adherent of the Walt-Mearsheimer thesis by right-wing anti-Obama-ites like Paul Mirengoff and Noah Pollock.)

I hope that when he comes back from the short hiatus he took, he will find a moment to address my misgivings about this woman. She strikes me as thrilled with her own success and her new position as adviser to would-be-kings, too shallow and careless in her vision of the future. A person of genuine gravitas and deep commitment to the improvement of this world does not dispense so easily such comforting panaceas like "hope" and trust in "humanity".

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