Saturday, 8 November 2008

Will Samantha Power return as foreign policy advisor to Obama?

Some Jewish sources speculate on Obama’s foreign policy team saying that it will be “centrist” and “pragmatic”, the real meaning of which will be known after the president-elect takes the office in January.

Among potential candidates for Obama’s foreign policy team is Samantha Power (i.e. her return after the resignation during the pre-election campaign when she called Hillary Clinton a “monster”).

Samantha Power is a Pulitzer Prize winning author and renowned anti-genocide and human rights activist. In 2004, Power was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 top scientists and thinkers of that year. She is pretty influential and considered as “pro-Armenian”. Turkey will certainly prefer to see her out of the team. In February 2008, Samantha Power has taped a “powerful 5-minute video reviewing presidential hopeful Barack Obama's support for Armenian issues, and encouraging Armenian Americans to vote for him in the upcoming primaries”, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

According to British sources, the Irish-born professor “was a key member of Obama's foreign policy team and one of his closest aides.” “If Obama makes it to the White House, Miss Power - who was cited by Men's Vogue as one of the most beautiful women in the world - was expected to take a crucial role in redefining the Anglo-American relationship.”

*photo - via Mail Online


Ani said...

I hope she's on board, at least in an unofficial role, and I don't think Hillary will get veto power over her...

Here's a link to the Wikipedia article on her book, where the Armenian Genocide is Chapter 1:

Undoubtedly there are lots of interviews with her, but here's one with Stephen Colbert, she rolls with the punches very well :)

spm said...

so far names circulating in the media are very discouraging. Actually all foreign affairs and economy candidates are from Clinton team. I hope they got it wrong and we will see some fresh faces.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Meanwhile, the Arab world is somewhat concerned by Obama's choice as chief of staff:,7340,L-3616306,00.html

artmika said...

There are concerns and mixed reactions about Obama’s newsly appointed chief of staff in Armenian circles too. Here is what I received via Armenians for Obama Facebook group:

“The selection of Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff—the first major appointment by President-elect Barack Obama—did not fare well with many Armenian-Americans who supported the Illinois Senator’s bid for presidency. While the Armenian-Americans who overwhelmingly voted for Obama showed signs of unease, those who supported the McCain-Palin ticket were quick to exclaim, I told you so!

The concerns of Armenian-Americans are understandable. Beginning with his days in the Clinton Administration through his years in Congress, Emanuel’s support has been mixed. It appears—if we are to take Robert Novak’s word for it—Emanuel opposed Clinton Administration affirmation of the Armenian Genocide. And yet, in his first term in Congress in 2003, he cosponsored Armenian Genocide legislation (H.Res.193) and urged President Bush in 2003, 2004 and 2005 to properly characterize the events from 1915-1923 as genocide.

Back then, Emanuel wasn’t afraid to question U.S. assistance to Turkey. In fact, in February 2003, when Congress was considering a $24 billion aid package to Turkey in return for allowing U.S. troops to open up a northern front to battle Iraqi insurgents, Emanuel was positively poetic in listing the myriad of domestic uses for those funds—from “no child left behind programs,” to college tuition assistance. Turkey eventually blocked U.S. troops from setting up the northern front.

Since 2006, it appears Emanuel has gone back to his Clinton-Administration days, counseling Speaker Pelosi not to place the Armenian Genocide resolution on the House agenda—advice that Pelosi and the House leadership did not heed.

So, again, that Armenian-Americans are concerned is understandable. What is not understandable, however, is the leap that many Armenian-Americans are making—concluding that the appointment of Emanuel is proof that Obama is somehow on the road to reneging on his election pledge even before taking his oath of office.

Such thinking comes off to be a bit naive. If the criteria for appointing a presidential chief of staff were for him to agree with the President on every single issue, no one would ever serve in that post. The President will have points of agreement and disagreement with his chief of staff—and all members of his Administration, for that matter—with the final word being that of the President, himself. Not to mention the fact that it is foolhardy to think that the President’s choice of a chief of staff would be decided on a single human rights issue—however just.

Armenian-American critics of the Emanuel pick ought to keep in mind the impressive record of President-elect Obama and—perhaps even more importantly—that of vice President-elect Biden, when it comes to issues of concern to Armenian-Americans. Although their record does not guarantee their support of Genocide recognition now that they have assumed the highest office of the country, it should, at least, make one think twice before jumping to conclusions.

Concentrating on the Emanuel pick is a distraction. Regardless of who the chief of staff is, immense pressure is going to be exerted on Obama—by some Washington elites, the Turkish state and U.S.-based lobby groups working openly or silently for the Turkish government—to dissuade him from recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

Given that reality, Armenian-Americans have two clear choices. To sit on their hands, thinking that they already did their part by voting for Obama and now it is his turn to deliver, or to struggle more fiercely than ever for truth and justice, knowing well that they have in the highest office of their country, a President who understands their struggle for truth and justice—certainly more than his predecessors.”

Onnik Krikorian said...

Well, I agree with that sentiment expressed at the end. A Democratic victory is better than a Republican one in both domestic and foreign policy areas.

I also consider that, sorry, a colored president is a huge step forwards for the U.S. and an example for many countries where you couldn't consider such a thing to happen.

Hell, ask many people even a few months ago and they'd consider the U.S. wasn't one either.

Regardless, while he might represent a more moderate U.S. government, America still has its interests and presidents serve to pursue them.

Therefore, any change isn't going to come in one man. It's going to come from an atmosphere where different groups push for their interests and opinions to be heard, discussed and considered.

Basically, while I'm glad about the Obama victory, I'm a little concerned with transferring upon one man the attributes of a messiah-like figure. It is a huge mistake.

He will be more reasoned, I'm sure, but the different groups in society must still continue to push for their interests. Remember, in some cases, the different groups will also take different positions.

We will especially see this when it comes to Russia, Israel and Turkey. Probably Iraq too. Still, Obama will be more moderate and reasoned than McCain or Bush. However, remember, many Armenians put a lot of hope in Clinton too.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Emanuel to be Obama's chief of staff

Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel, a key member of the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives, has accepted President-elect Barack Obama's call to serve him as chief of staff, party officials said on Thursday.


In an interview with Ma'ariv, Emanuel's father, Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, said he was convinced that his son's appointment would be good for Israel. "Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel," he was quoted as saying. "Why wouldn't he be? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House."

Onnik Krikorian said...

Incidentally, there's an interesting response to that somewhat racist remark from Emanuel's father by one blogger:

[...] unlike George Bush, I think Obama has a much deeper sense of political mission and agenda. Dick Cheney was able to perpetrate his outrages due to a president who had no sense of political self. That isn’t the case with Obama. No one is going to take this man for a ride, political or otherwise.


All that being said, I AM deeply alarmed by this Jerusalem Post story which quotes an interview with Emanuel’s physician-father in which the elder gentleman says the following:


Seems to me, in this odd and gratuitous non-sequitur, the dad is inadvertently sabotaging his son’s prospects; not to mention how the Arab world is going to react to a statement like that which is probably already featured prominently at Al-Jazeera. I realize Rahm Emanuel’s father doesn’t speak for his son. After all, I have more progressive politics than either of my parents. But still, this kind of jingoism and racism is absolutely unacceptable and inexcusable even in one’s father.

Ani said...

Regarding Rahm Emmanuel, just saw this interview in the Wall Street Journal:

Fun, fun fact: Emmanuel was a ballet dancer--who knew??

Although his father should have declined that interview, it's worth remembering a) Obama's in charge and Emmanuel's job is to efficently carry out the president's policies, and b) since Obama was being called a "secret Muslim", appointing a Jewish Chief of Staff does calm down the wacko element (and the elderly Florida Jews).

artmika said...

Reports: Samantha Power is back on board of Obama’s foreign policy team