Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Last Temptations of Samantha Power

Samantha on Power: “Kill more and prosper!”

THE AMBASSADOR FROM HELL?Samantha Power wrote the book on how the U.S. government ignores and legitimates genocides. Or was it a handbook?” Forget about Samantha Power, a Congress that impeached a former U.S. president for a sex scandal, should be able impeach a president for enabling genocide in Syria, especially when the facts and the pattern are so clear. But it won’t, will it? What’s happening in Syria represents a condemnation of the entire American political system as well as the prevailing culture, and not just a staff member of a particular administration, nor even the head honcho himself. This does not excuse them of course, nor is meant to.

The point is: there is enough support in the policymaking community for Obama’s “realist” position and enough gridlock in the decision-making system that shames all. If American policymakers cannot reach a consensus on something like this, and cannot pursue a policy of smart intervention meant to prevent, or at least stop such mass slaughter, then, there is something deeply wrong in the whole system. The malaise goes deeper than we think. And knowing how deep the malaise is I am almost certain that the very argument I am currently making here could and probably would be used to create even more confusion.

Be that as it may, I will push my argument even further by suggesting that I have come to believe deeply that America at this stage simply does not have what it takes to tackle the various security challenges that it will be facing it both at home and abroad in the near future. Lapsing on Westphalian realism to tackle the challenges of the 21st Century is a sign of serious intellectual bankruptcy. Despite the proliferating critics of this state of affairs, none has so far delved deep enough into their analysis of the problem to spur the kind of serious debate that can facilitate the emergence of viable alternatives to this “realism.” Almost all criticism levelled at this stage seems to suggest that the problem stems solely out of the particular quirks and risk-aversion of the Obama Administration, especially those of President Obama himself.

But when an outside observer, such as myself, examines the various foreign policy statements made by the different presidential candidates, Democrat and Republican alike, and when he considers current Congressional dynamics, and intellectual attitudes, gleaned from the various policy papers produced by different Washingtonian think tanks, not to mention popular attitudes as surmised from different polls, he cannot be so restrictive and forgiving in his assessment.

Another major problem that infects the ongoing debate, inasmuch as we can speak of one, is the total lack of external voices, including Syrian voices. Foreigners are almost exclusively used as props even when the debate is supposed to be about them and their interests. Criticism from our side, even when we finally become naturalized citizens, is always dismissed or taken lightly, unless, that is, it coincides with the interests of one of the parties involved.

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