Samantha Power, Former Human Rights Journalist, to Receive Award From Henry Kissinger
In her 2002 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide,” Samantha Power lambasted former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for his role in genocidal foreign policy. “[T]he [Ford] administration had very little credibility,” she wrote. “Kissinger had bloodied Cambodia and blackened his own reputation with past U.S. policy.”
Now, in an ironic twist, Power is set to receive The American Academy of Berlin’s Henry A. Kissinger Prize — and it will be presented to her from Kissinger himself. The award is given “annually to a renowned figure in the field of international diplomacy.” Power, a “human rights celebrity,” began her career as a journalist reporting from war-torn regions such as “Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan, and Zimbabwe.” She eventually became a member of President Obama’s administration when he made her the United States’ youngest U.N. ambassador.
“[I]n her book Sergio: One Man’s Fight to Save the World, she documented how Kissinger greenlighted the brutal Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975, which led to the death of hundreds of thousands of people,” The Intercept’s Zaid Jilani reports. And in her book “A Problem From Hell,” Jilani adds, “she wrote of how Kissinger encouraged Iraq’s Kurds to engage in an armed revolt in the mid 1970s, only to withdraw support to build rapport with the country’s government — leading Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to brutally uproot them in revenge.”
This is not the first time that Power has been accused of complacency since joining the Obama administration. “In her five years in government,” Max Blumenthal writes at Alternet, “Power has done nothing of substance to prevent atrocities.”
[H]er most notable accomplishment might be her enabling of their most ruthless perpetrators, primarily through her protection of Israel, a serial human rights abuser and the world’s only active settler-colonial state. In Syria, meanwhile, where one of the greatest atrocities of modern times continues to devour civilian lives, Power’s high-profile initiatives have done little more than generate publicity for herself. And in Libya, where Power’s demand for military intervention influenced President Barack Obama’s decision to authorize force, the US has thrown open the floodgates of chaos, transforming a repressive but functional state into a destabilized battleground for local warlords and jihadists.
Power has not yet commented on receiving the award. On May 22, however, she gave the commencement address to Yale’s graduating class in which she said:
[I]t’s in your interest to engage the people you disagree with, rather than shutting them out or shutting them up. Not only because it gives you a chance to challenge their views, and maybe even change them. But also because sometimes they might just be right.
The American Academy of Berlin’s award ceremony is set for June 8.
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