The Power of Samantha Power

Barack Obama seems to have outsourced foreign policy and national security issues to Samantha Power.

John Podhoretz noted her influence with the President when she played a key role in his decision to bomb Libya-pursuant to a trendy concept among foreign policy elites called Responsibility to Protect (R2P for Blackberry texters):
The Tuesday-evening meeting at the White House at which the president decided to move on Libya was "extremely contentious," according to a report in Josh Rogin's excellent blog, The Cable.

Power and a few others took the position that the United States couldn't stay on the sidelines as Moammar Khadafy murdered his own people and snuffed out the people-power revolt in the Middle East in its infancy.

They were opposed by Power's own boss, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Samantha Power's opinions eclipsed the views of her nominal boss, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and those of Obama's Defense Secretary (who, at least, had to pass confirmation by the Senate, unlike Power).

Her influence is long-lasting and deep. She also probably played a role in nominating Mary Robinson to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, despite a checkered record involving international efforts towards our ally, Israel

People should not be surprised at her outsized influence.  Barack Obama has made a mockery of the concept of organizational charts and traditional power arrangements in the executive branch  (Czars and Czarinas, "advisers" such as Elizabeth Warren who, along with a bevy of recess appointments, escape Senate scrutiny.

Stanley Kurtz sees more moves afoot as the Soros-linked Samantha Power continues to work with Barack Obama to weaken the concept of American sovereignty and empower the international community at the expense of American independence. He also notes that Obama has always been clever about hiding his motives behind a façade of pragmatism.

Yet for years, Samantha Power, a prominent advocate of humanitarian intervention and a key backer of our action in Libya, has been a powerful member of Obama's foreign policy team. In 2005, Obama contacted Power after reading her book on genocide. There followed a long conversation, after which Power left Harvard to work for Obama, quickly emerging as his senior foreign policy advisor.

It seems reasonable to conclude from his long-term relationship with Power that Obama shares her interest in making humanitarian military interventions more common. Yet the president has said little about this, and the obvious policy implications of his ties with Power are rarely drawn.

What Samantha Power and her supporters want is to solidify the principle of "responsibility to protect" in international law. That requires a "pure" case of intervention on humanitarian grounds. Power's agenda would explain why Obama acted when he acted, and why the public rationale for action has not included regime change.

Yet Obama has so far been reluctant to fully explain any of this to either Congress or the American public, perhaps because he realizes that the ideological basis of his actions would not be popular if openly admitted. If Obama were a different sort of president, we would have all heard about "responsibility to protect" long ago. The country would have thoroughly debated Power's ideas, and the public would have quickly recognized the core motives of the president's actions in Libya.

But transparency is not President Obama's modus operandi. Nor does he care to have discussions with Congress or the American people regarding his policies. He defers to the international community and the Arab League and -seemingly-to Samantha Power. As Douglas Feith notes in today's Wall Street Journal op-ed, Obama is intent on substituting international law for American law, skipping the pesky process of Congressional voting and ignoring that piece of parchment known as the Constitution. This is part and parcel of his desire to internationalize our policies , both foreign and domestic. No wonder he "won" the Nobel Peace Prize. Those Norwegian selectors knew his type of person-they share cocktails with them at any number of soirees.

The White House has been pushing back from the idea that women have been in charge of our foreign and military policy. But at least one woman seems to have a great deal of influence in these areas -- unelected, unconfirmed, but very powerful.

Samantha Power is one to monitor-particularly because she has some views that might offend many Americans (as outlined in this article, linked above).
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