Ed Lasky's two AT articles discussing Barack Obama's foreign policy advisory team (here and here) have caused a lot of comment, published and not, within the pro-Israel community. Today, Noah Pollak writes about another member of Team Obama on the Contentions blog of Commentary Magazine:
There has been an awakening in recent days to the presence of a disturbing number of foreign policy advisers to the Obama campaign who harbor hostile views of Israel. Ed Lasky of the American Thinker has been doing serious work on the subject, and his two pieces - here and here - are must-reads. Caroline Glick adds to the discussion here. But there is another Obama foreign policy adviser-a prominent one-who has so far escaped criticism. This is Samantha Power, a Harvard professor, journalist, and human rights specialist who of late has become a high-profile liberal critic of American foreign policy. Pollak cites an interview with Power on the Kennedy School of Government website with these words:
Another longstanding foreign policy flaw is the degree to which special interests dictate the way in which the "national interest" as a whole is defined and pursued . . . America's important historic relationship with Israel has often led foreign policy decision-makers to defer reflexively to Israeli security assessments, and to replicate Israeli tactics, which, as the war in Lebanon last summer demonstrated, can turn out to be counter-productive.
So greater regard for international institutions along with less automatic deference to special interests-especially when it comes to matters of life and death and war and peace-seem to be two take-aways from the war in Iraq.
Power is not just assenting to the Israel Lobby view of American foreign policy, but is also arguing that Israel had something to do with the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq in 2003-an appalling slander, and a telling one.
Ed Lasky writes:
I have read Power's book on Genocide, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. This was a superb book. In the book, if I recall, she addressed the paucity of efforts in America to bring the coming Holocaust to the attention of the powers in Washington. The book portrayed a body politic where such "special interest" groups were all but powerless to bring any sort of issue to the attention of the powerful. Now she condemns such "special interest" groups. Hmm... a paradox?
Two more issues. For someone who wrote such an influential book on the topic of Genocide, why has she remained noticeably silent regarding Iran's Holocaust denial and its boasts of planning to commit another one? Her silence is deafening. Instead, she seems intent on following a policy of empowering the regime and looking away from its own proclaimed goals. Secondly, I have to admit that I am stumped about her qualifications to be a foreign policy adviser. Here is her bio: http://ksgfaculty.harvard.edu/samantha_power.
Of course, Warren Christopher was not necessarily the best qualified Secretary of State. But where are the qualifications for Power?
Rick Moran writes:
While concerns about Obama's foreign policy advisors should be expressed, the candidate himself has said most of the right words when it comes to his views on Israel's security:
From an appearance at AIPAC last March (via Haaretz):
"Our job is to rebuild the road to real peace and lasting security throughout the region," Obama said during a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Chicago. "Our job is to do more than lay out another road map."
"That effort begins with a clear and strong commitment to the security of Israel: Our strongest ally in the region and its only established democracy," he added. "That will always be my starting point."
In what may have been a veiled reference to reports of American opposition to Israeli negotations with Syria, Obama said: "We should never seek to dictate what is best for the Israelis and their security interests. No Israeli prime minister should ever feel dragged to or blocked from the negotiating table by the United States."
Obama also appears to have given strong support to the current security relationship between Israel and the United States:
"We must preserve our total commitment to our unique defense relationship with Israel by fully funding military assistance and continuing work on the Arrow and related missile defense programs," he said.
Iran is a different story in that Obama wants to establish immediate dialogue with Tehran. But his commitment to Israel seems fairly strong and his position seems pretty orthodox compared to other candidates from both parties. Obama also appears to have given strong support to the current security relationship between Israel and the United States.
Ed Lasky responds:
That is an argument that he will make -- that he is open to a wide range of views. But there should also be a threshold regarding the limits of those views. Why have Malley, who has been peddling lies (he has been impeached by fellow Democrats, including Clinton)?
I think Power's views echo those of Walt-Mearsheimer (and Brzezinski). The question remains: why would he even listen to these people? There are thousands of foreign policy academics and specialists out there. Surely he could have found those with better reputations and more reasonable positions. One has to wonder what his beliefs really are when he gives positions to people of this caliber who hold these views.
A Middle East expert pointed out what a sorry lot these people are. Definitely second tier (if not below that). Hillary got a lot of the "names" because she was the perceived front-runner, perhaps. or had previous ties with these people. Obama's people are not anywhere near the upper-crust. Lake, Brzezinsky? The expert pointed out that if you are a Democrat running for President and need to find "experienced" diplomats who had previously served in a Democratic Administration you had two pools to draw from: Clinton and Carter. The Clintonistas went to Hillary; the Carter retreads to Obama