Samantha Power’s unsettling ghost


Forget about William Ayers, the onetime native born terrorist that Barack Obama apparently really does not have a lot to do with. Samantha Power is about to make a reappearance.

A younger version of Power, that is. The video below is doing the rounds of conservative blogs. It’s billed as if she’s still advising the campaign – she was sacked months ago for calling Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) a “monster” during the primaries. And it’s also billed as current, even though it was recorded by a UC-Berkeley project on April 29 2002. And the YouTube poster repeats the “Obama is a Muslim” slur and otherwise misrepresents the U.S. senator from Illinois and Democratic presidential candidate.

None of that spares his campaign at least a few discomfiting questions. We already knew Power bought into the wildly overstated estimates of the death toll in Jenin after the Israeli raid there; her proposed solution here is stunning:

* cutting off military assistance to Israel and delivering the cash to a Palestinian state;

* sending in a massive interventionary force to protect Palestine.

Power has ties into the Jewish community for backing up, in her research, arguments that the United States did not do enough during the Holocaust; and when she quit, the campaign made it clear that she had not advised Obama on the Middle East, but on genocide.

But, according to this interview, her views on genocide are germane to her understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She distinguishes between “actual genocide” and “major human rights abuses” in her allegations against Israel and the Palestinian leadership (whom it must be said, she blames in part for the Palestinian plight), but clearly sees the two phenomena on the same spectrum.

Did this come up in talks on the Obama foreign policy team before Power was ousted? How did other advisers react? How did Obama react? Did it come up in her interview? How was she not vetted?

(In fairness, we should point out that Obama’s senior Middle East adviser is Dennis Ross, who is skeptical about pushing to hard right now for Palestinian statehood and who is hawkish on Iran sanctions – positions not too indistinguishable from those of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.)

There’s another striking aspect of the interview that the conservatives are not pointing out: Read this, posited on April 29 2002, and imagine it not as describing Israel and the Palestinians but as describing the case against Saddam Hussein. How is it distinguishable from the neoconservative tenets that drove – at the same time – the arguments for invading Iraq?

“You have to go in as if you’re serious, you have to out something on the line, and unfortunately, imposition of a solution on unwilling parties is dreadful, I mean it’s a terrible thing to do, it’s fundamentally undemocratic. But sadly, We don’t just have a democracy here, we have a liberal democracy, there are certain sets of principles that guide our policy or that are meant to anyway and there it’s essential that some set of principles become the benchmark, rather than a deference to people who are fundamentally politically destined to destroy the lives of their own people.”

Here, by the way, is the link to the full interview.

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