James Joyner takes an in-depth look at the re-emergence to prominence of Samantha Power, currently a senior adviser to President Obama, member of the National Security Council and, according to some sources, potentially in line for a cabinet position. (It is a “re-emergence” since, as many of you will recall, she was rather unceremoniously dumped from the Obama campaign team in 2008 after calling Hillary Clinton “a monster.”)
Joyner’s analysis comes in response to an NRO piece by Stanly Kurtz, who calls Power as a “patriot’s nightmare,” describing her “radical” history as a multi-nationalist in the mold of Noam Chomski. James writes:
Is Powers unpatriotic, let alone a “patriot’s nightmare”? I’ve met her only briefly and haven’t read enough of her work to peer into her heart. But I’ve certainly seen no evidence that she doesn’t love her adopted country (she was born in Ireland). She could, after all, live anywhere she wanted and has chosen to be in the United States, where she’s raising a son with husband Cass Sunstein.
Her international relations worldview, in a nutshell, is that states are not entitled to have their sovereignty respected when they’re not living up to minimal human rights standards promulgated by the United States and a handful of other developed nations. The notion that the United Nations and its “leftist bureaucrats” could impose its will on the United States is absurd on a number of levels. Not only is it chiefly American values that it’s seeking to promote but it’s American money and military capability that allows it to function. As President Dave Chappelle aptly noted some years back, the UN lacks an army.
Unlike James, I’ve never met Ms. Power, so I can’t speak to her bona fides as a radical. What I do know, however, is that she is one of the leading proponents in the administration of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine. (A deeply flawed theory which we have discussed here before.) And while I can’t say for sure whether she is a “patriot’s nightmare,” speaking from the cheap seats she is most certainly a nightmare to an isolationist such as yours truly.
Power is a prime specimen of that formerly rare species, the liberal hawk. Unlike neocons, who seek to project American power – alone if need be – to spread democracy around the globe, Power and her ilk push for American intervention abroad through the auspices of international agencies when other governments create humanitarian disasters. As Joyner correctly points out, she embraces a theory which says that the sovereignty of other nations is conditional and subject to veto by the US and a handful of other countries if they fail to live up to our standards.
But the outcome is the same either way. Whether you staff your administration with neocons or liberal hawks like Power, the end result is an increasing number of foreign wars if they have their way. There seems to be a mounting list of reasons why both conservatives and libertarian leaning liberals should oppose the expansion of her power and influence in the Obama administration.