The Conversation

Samantha Power Must Resign Over Syria - Update: Left Already?

Update: A friend on Twitter suggested Power was already "back in Cambridge." A piece at Foreign Policy's blog in February announced that she was leaving the administration--but only temporarily, and with a strong suggestion that she would return shortly. It is my understanding that she still serves in the administration as head of the Atrocities Prevention Board. If that is indeed incorrect, I shall be happy to retract the post below. 

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Two years ago, President Barack Obama led the United States into a coalition of forces against Libya because Muammar Gaddafi's forces threatened to carry out atrocities as it attacked rebel forces in Benghazi. 

That decision was allegedly guided by the ideas of Samantha Power, the controversial presidential aide whose "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine emerged from a young but fruitful career of writing about how to prevent genocide.

Today, the administration has not only refused to act after tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in Syria, but now refuses to obey its own "red line" on Syria's chemical weapons.

Instead of "Responsibility to Protect," President Obama is doing his impression of FDR during the Holocaust, or Bill Clinton during Rwanda. 

"If he drops sarin on his own people, what’s that got to do with us?” one aide is reported to have said.

Power joined the Obama camp early, when he was still the junior Senator from Illinois, and when all things seemed possible through his candidacy. She retained her White House position despite controversy over her support for U.S. intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

But if the Pulitzer Prize that Power won for her genocide writing means anything, if her position as head of the "Atrocities Prevention Board" is not just window-dressing, she must resign in protest over Syria. 

"What's that got to do with us?" is not a stance she can tolerate. 


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