Obama’s Power Play

This is just a short posting, as the UK Parliament is recalled to debate events in Syria.

Across the Pond, the President has a dilemma. He was elected as the apparent antidote to George W. Bush but has prevaricated in the face of slaughter in Syria for over a year. Now it appears that an air strike is imminent. So what has brought this about?

Here are a few choice quotes that may give us a clue:

‘American political leaders interpret society-wide silence as an indicator of public indifference…’ (xvii)

‘No U.S. president has ever made genocide prevention a priority, and no U.S. president has ever suffered politically for his indifference to its occurrence. It is thus no coincidence that genocide rages on.’ (xxi)

‘Over the course of the last century, the United States has made modest progress in its responses to genocide. The persistence and proliferation of dissenters within the U.S. government and human rights advocates outside it have made a policy of silence in the face of genocide more difficult to sustain.’ (503)

‘ American leaders did not act because they did not want to.’ (508)

‘One mechanism for altering the calculus of U.S. leaders would be to make them publicly or professionally accountable for inaction.’ (510)

‘The United States should stop genocide for two reasons. The first and most compelling reason is moral. When innocent life is being taken on such a scale and the United States has the power to stop the killing at reasonable risk, it has a duty to act. It is this belief that motivates most of those who seek intervention.’ (512)

These are not the quotes of a wild-eyed outsider, but of the current US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, drawn from her Pulitzer Prize winning book, ‘Problem From Hell.’

Having recruited Power to the administration and promoted her at the start of his second term, how could Obama not be influenced by such thinking?

Having accepted a position in an administration, how could Power remain in post if the US did not act?

We shall see how both the president and his ambassador respond to the developing situation in the coming days…