Samantha Power’s post monster mash

Wednesday 19 March, 2008

Samantha Power, Barak Obama’s former foreign policy adviser, spoke recently @ this Chicago Council on Global Affairs event International Institutions: New Roles for the Global Age to promote her new book  “Chasing the Flame:  Sergio Vieira de Mello & the fight to save the world.”   Here are a few things I gleaned from her talk:

-after noting the Rwandan genocide, we need an endangered peoples movement as well as an endangered species movement.

-contrary to how it appears in the media, the U.S. is the biggest helper in Darfur & Burma, which results in 2 lessons  1.  there is a void with insufficient international commitment to these causes, & 2.  US moral commitment is contradictory when we endorse waterboarding.


-reasoned with unreasonable people in nation-building  for the UN

-found killers interspersed with refugees, a difficult task

-found common ground with Bush by mentioning his shoot to kill order in E. Timor.

Lessons learned:  we need to;

– extend 20th century means to address 21st century problems

-change from Roosevelt’s freedom from fear (“fear is a bad adviser”)

-talk to our adversaries so that we can think outside of our black boxes

-promote dignity within democracy

-be humble while being clear-eyed in examining problems

Pardon the pun, but Samantha is a very Powerful & persuasive speaker.  She obviously knows her stuff very well & presents it in a compelling fashion.  However, as intelligent as she is, I question placing her in a foreign policy role.  She stands up for many laudable causes, but I’m not sure they always deal with more practical & economic matters which would be required in a foreign policy position.  I think it’s a shame she was forced to resign from Obama’s campaign, but it might not have made sense for her to take on a role after the campaign anyway.


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