A leopard can't change its spots, but can an interventionist resist the urge to intervene? That's the question senators must pose to Samantha Power, President Obama's choice for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, at her confirmation hearing, coming up soon.
Mr. Obama nominated Ms. Power last week to succeed his new national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, at the U.N. Ms. Power is best known for her intervention advocacy that began with her stint as a newspaper correspondent during the Bosnian war in the 1990s. She later wrote a book, "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide," a broad indictment of American failure to halt genocide, which earned her a Pulitzer Prize in 2003. In 2002, Ms. Power argued in favor of stationing American combat troops in Israel on behalf of Palestinian interests. During the recent Arab Spring uprisings she advocated U.S. regime change in Libya.
The turmoil in Syria is sure to inflame the ardor of the "genocide chick," as she calls herself. The latest hot spot in the Middle East isn't simply waging a civil war, but is ground zero in a geopolitical struggle involving Iran and Russia. The Islamic republic has turned Syria into a client state, providing a geographic conduit for moving fighters and war materiel to the borders of Israel in its grand design to extinguish the Jewish state and establish a Muslim caliphate. Tehran's mullahs and Moscow's Vladimir Putin have supplied the weaponry that has helped Syrian President Bashar Assad regain the upper hand against rebel forces. That's bad, and the alternative is no better. The rebels enjoy the backing of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri.
When both sides of a conflict are bad, the prudent course is to be careful. Mr. Obama says Mr. Assad must go, but so far he hasn't animated his words with action. On June 4, Great Britain and France joined the U.N. in accusing Mr. Assad of using chemical weapons against the rebels. The death toll in the two-year war continues to climb, passing the 80,000 mark, which is likely to add to the pressure on America to get involved.
Sen. John McCain drew fire for meeting with rebels during a secret visit to Syria over the Memorial Day weekend because one of the rebels turned out to be Mohammad Nour, a known kidnapper. The senator backs both aid to rebels and Ms. Power's nomination.
Mr. Obama's choice of a fervent apologist to lead American diplomacy at Turtle Bay is not a surprise. He has shown reluctance to get involved in Syria, and a recent Gallup poll shows 68 percent of Americans say U.S. national interests are not at stake in Syria and oppose military action there.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee should be diligent in reviewing Ms. Power's intentions and bizarre advocacy of using force to "persuade" Israel, to determine whether these views are as indelible as the leopard's spots.
The Washington Times
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