Friday, August 8, 2008

Power on Power

Journalist, writer, and academic Samantha Power has a very good article in the latest New York Review of Books explaining how the Democratic Party can and should seize upon National Security as a campaign issue. She recognizes that the Republican party has historically been seen as the 'national security party,' and then offers some very clear, and in my opinion wholly accurate, analysis for why the Dems shouldn't be intimidated by this assumption. Closely observing recent security decisions in Kosovo, in Iraq and here at home, Power offers some concrete suggestions that Obama and the Democrats can use that combine good policy with smart, aggressive politics. She exposes a long list of fallacies in the conservative approach to national security - everything from losing nuclear material in the former Soviet Union to neglecting Iraqi refugees in Syria - while putting forward a convincing liberal alternative.

The Democratic Party today is in a strong position to show that it will be more reliable in keeping Americans safe during the twenty-first century. If the party succeeds in doing this, it will not only wake up the United States and the world from a long eight-year nightmare; it will also lay to rest the enduring myth that strong and wrong is preferable to smart and right.

Power, who is currently affiliated with the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, was a senior adviser to Barack Obama until her well publicized slip of the tongue in March 2008. Her book on genocide, "A Problem from Hell," won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003. This must-read article reads like a policy briefing, and makes one hope that Power can reclaim her rightful role in the country's national security apparatus.


Peter said...

Samantha Power, apologist for US State Terror, holding a high position in that apparatus?

I think that is not a good idea.

Gurldoggie said...

Thanks for engaging Peter, and thanks for sending Chomsky's comments. I hadn't seen that article. Despite Chomsky's endless repetition of the same tropes, he's still a vital voice of criticism and deserves a wider audience.

That said, I think that holding Samantha Power to some Ideal of Pacifism is completely beside the point. She's not portraying herself as a revolutionary or even as a reformer. Power is a student of politics, working for politicians, presenting a reasonable and coherent alternative to the current failed national security policies. In that role she is a virulent critic of torture, a strong supporter of diplomacy over warfare, and a true believer in rule-based liberal institutions like the UN. She may not be Jesus Christ, but she's smarter and saner than just about anyone working in the Bush State Dept., and I still think that her appointment would be a huge step in the right direction.