On the one hand, the choice of Samantha Power to fill the position of U.S. ambassador to the U.N. is a great idea. Power, once the director of Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, has been an outspoken advocate for U.S. and worldwide intervention against genocide. If there’s anyone who has the credentials to fight the modern disease of genocide, it’s Power. She has lectured on the topic, publicly spoken out against it, and she won a Pulitzer Prize for a book she wrote on it in 2003.
The U.N. could use someone who is so vociferous in decrying the mass murder that has gone mostly uncondemned and unpunished since the organization has been founded. The world body has inexcusably and abysmally failed to stop the genocide in Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur and Iraq, and in numerous other conflicts. The U.N. has stood idly by while millions of innocents have been slaughtered for no reason other than their race, creed or religion. Power, who believes in U.S. intervention to prevent genocide and atrocities, could usher in a new era by spreading her passion of zero tolerance for mass-murdering tyrants and governments.
On the other hand, Power has made some troubling comments that reveal a lack of comprehension of the role of the U.S. in world affairs and of the predicament of Israel, surrounded by enemies vowing its annihilation. In 2003, Power wrote in a New Republic article that the U.S. should apologize for its behavior in the past. In the article, Power insisted that “Instituting a doctrine of mea culpa would enhance our credibility by showing that American decision-makers do not endorse the sins of their predecessors,” and that “much anti-Americanism derives from the role U.S. political, economic, and military power has played in denying such freedoms to others.”
U.S. foreign policy has been influenced by a number of doctrines — the Monroe Doctrine, the Truman Doctrine and the Reagan Doctrine, to name several. All were designed to protect the U.S. and its allies. The Monroe Doctrine warned European nations not to attempt to overthrow independent governments in South America; the Truman Doctrine sent a message to the Kremlin that Soviet expansionism would not be tolerated and must be contained; and the Reagan doctrine declared the support of the U.S. for any movement that was attempting to overthrow the yoke of communism.
Certainly, mistakes were made at times in implementing those doctrines, but for the most part, the mission of those foreign policy objectives was to promulgate freedom and democracy, to protect America, and to impede the grasping hands of totalitarian governments from subsuming democratic countries.
A mea culpa doctrine, apologizing for U.S. policies, has no place in U.S. foreign policy. If anything, the world owes a large debt of gratitude to the U.S. for defeating the Nazis and the imperialist Japanese and for helping to bring about the downfall of the Soviet Union, thereby freeing hundreds of millions from despotism. The U.S. took the lead in saving Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. Leading NATO forces, it succeeded in halting the ethnic cleansing taking place in Bosnia.
Power should understand that anti-Americanism — from al-Qaida, from the Taliban, from Hamas — doesn’t come from the trampling of human rights by U.S. foreign policy; rather, it’s exactly the opposite. The U.S. support for freedom, for democracy, for human rights stokes the anti-Americanism of those individuals who reject democracy, who want a totalitarian government, who don’t believe in a free and independent judicial system.
About Israel, Power has made some comments that reflect a lack of understanding of the nation’s precarious position in the region. For example, in 2002, she compared the IDF’s actions during the second intifada to that of the ethnic cleansing that took place in Srebrenica, and, referring to American Jews, that it may be necessary to “alienating a constituency of tremendous political and financial import.”
There again Power, as someone who professes an abhorrence of genocide, should reflect that the terrorists of Hamas and Hizbullah have vowed to carry out the extermination of Jews. The Iranians have expressed their intention of “wiping Israel off the map.” They are the groups calling for the genocide that Power has spent her career trying to bring to the forefront of the world’s consciousness. As the recent events in Syria and Libya make clear, the jihadists and Arab governments don’t think twice about killing innocent civilians or children. In Gaza, government critics are tortured and dragged through the streets.
Israel is hated not because of its military’s operations in Yehudah and Shomron and Gaza, not because of its so-called occupation, but because of its singularity in upholding moral values in a region that follows the law of the jungle. Israel is a painful thorn in the side of regional dictators because it shows their oppressed citizens that there are alternatives to brutality when it comes to running a nation. If Power is a true advocate of human rights, she should realize that defending and supporting Israel is one the best ways to achieve it.