Hillary Clinton, Not So Good on Genocide

The Barack Obama campaign is about to pay a very high price for the inopportune words of one of its most distinguished foreign policy advisors. The dazzlingly brilliant journalist, Pulitzer-prize winning author, and Harvard professor, Samantha Power, has been forced to resign from the campaign after she recklessly told a reporter that Hillary Clinton is a "monster."

In the pungently hypocritical game of American politics, this is just something outside the rules. Whether it's true, or not, matters little. Nor does it matter that the object of Power's derision has just finished spending millions on TV ads implying that Obama would be responsible for the countless deaths of millions of American children sleeping at 3 a.m. Tut, tut. Nothing monstrous about that.

Power was rightfully awarded the Pulitzer for her finely written and downright horrifying book A Problem From Hell which, in macabre detail, describes the calculated indifference of the Clinton administration when 800,000 Rwandans were being systematically butchered. The red phone rang and rang and rang again. I don't know where Hillary was then. But her husband and his entire experienced foreign policy team -- from the brass in the Pentagon to the congenitally feckless Secretary of State Warren Christopher -- just let it ring.

And as more than one researcher has amply documented the case, the bloody paralysis of the Clinton administration in the face of the Rwandan genocide owed not at all to a lack of information, but rather to a lack of will. A reviewer of Power's book for The New York Times, perhaps summed it up best, saying that the picture of Clinton that emerges from this reading is that of an "amoral narcissist."

Former Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, who commanded the UN forces in Rwanda at the time of the genocide, tells us a similar story in his own memoir. General Dallaire recounts how, at the height of the Rwandan holocaust, he got a phone call from a Clinton administration staffer who wanted to know how many Rwandans had already died, how many were refugees and how many were internally displaced. Writes Dallaire: "He told me that his estimates indicated that it would take the deaths of 85,000 Rwandans to justify the risking of the life of one American soldier." Eventually, ten times that many would die. And our response? A handful of years later, at a photo-op stopover in Kigali airport, Bill Clinton bit his lip and said he was sorry.

Therein resides the richest and saddest irony of all. Samantha Power has actually lived the sort of life that Hillary Clinton's campaign staff has, for public consumption, invented for its candidate. Though not quite 40 years old, Power has spent no time on any Wal-Mart boards but has rather dedicated her entire adult life rather tirelessly to championing humanitarian causes. She has spoken up when others were silent. She took great personal risks during the Balkan wars to witness and record and denounce the carnage (She reported that Bill Clinton intervened against the Serbs only when he felt he was losing personal credibility as a result of his inaction. "I'm getting creamed," Power quoted the then-President saying as he fretted over global consternation over his own hesitation to act).

We gave Power the Pulitzer for exposing the, well, monstrous indifference of the Clinton administration as it stared unblinkingly and immobile into the face of massive horror. But we give her a kick in the backside and throw her out the door when she has the temerity to publicly restate all that in one impolite word. Monstrous, indeed.

AlterNet is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed by its writers are their own.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.