I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Samantha Power last year at Oklahoma University. This was around the time when the Norman Finkelstein – Alan Dershowitz shenanigans were wrapping up, and I wanted to discuss the matter with her. She’s a Harvard gal, and as we all know Dersh is the Felix Frankfurter Chair at that University.
Basically, I had some delusional hope that I could discuss the situation her and perhaps she could in some small fashion go to bat for Finkelstein. I thought this as I honestly believe Finkelstien is a modern day version of her hero, Raphael Lemkin. But as I soon found out, most people only seem to appreciate folks once they are long gone. So much easier that way.
After I said what I had to say she basically stated what was in the papers, that it was just a "bitter spat between the two", consequently something Finkelstein had predicted people would say and write about the situation a couple years before on McChesney’s show. Anyway, I emailed Professor Chomsky about this and he replied with some good insight. I post this because I feel that Obama still might employ Power, and I wonder if it is such a wonderful idea:
Her book does mention East Timor. It says that the US looked away. That’s a bit like saying that the Nazis looked away from the Holocaust. The US looked right there, and instantly made the decision to escalate the atrocities, as it continued to do for 25 years, until Clinton finally came under such intense international and domestic pressure (not from the Kennedy school, but from the Church and influential right-wing Catholics) that he told the Indonesian generals that the game was over, and they instantly withdrew — demonstrating, to anyone with a functioning brain, that the US could have ended the near-genocidal massacre with a word at any point, but very consciously chose not to, just as Power’s friends and associates chose to pretend they knew nothing about it so that the slaughter could continue, and still lie about it. I doubt, however, that she knows any of this.
I doubt very much that she’d be willing to be involved in Dershowitz’s antics. Or anyone else connected with Harvard, or American liberalism generally. It would be unpleasant. You might not get invited to the right elegant dinner parties. You would be subject to criticism rather than awe for having the courage to condemn someone else’s crimes. I think speaking to her is a waste of time, from what I know.
But I still think she is probably quite a decent person. It’s just hard to break out of that comfortable liberal intellectual cocoon.