Power and Clinton: the backstory

Samantha Power's resignation as an advisor to Barack Obama's presidential campaign is big news. But so far, my former colleague Dan Kennedy seems to be the only one who's noted that Power's description of Clinton as a "monster" might be connected with her scathing assessment of how Bill Clinton handled--or didn't handle--the genocide in Rwanda.

Blogging at Media Nation, Dan quotes at length from Power's 2001 Atantic article on this very subject. Here's an excerpt, in which Powers eviscerates Clinton for his 1998 Rwanda "apology":
With the grace of one grown practiced at public remorse, the President gripped the lectern with both hands and looked across the dais at the Rwandan officials and survivors who surrounded him. Making eye contact and shaking his head, he explained, "It may seem strange to you here, especially the many of you who lost members of your family, but all over the world there were people like me sitting in offices, day after day after day, who did not fully appreciate [pause] the depth [pause] and the speed [pause] with which you were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror."... [emphasis in original]

[T]his formulation avoids the critical issue of whether Clinton and his close advisers might reasonably have been expected to "fully appreciate" the true dimensions and nature of the massacres. During the first three days of the killings U.S. diplomats in Rwanda reported back to Washington that well-armed extremists were intent on eliminating the Tutsi. And the American press spoke of the door-to-door hunting of unarmed civilians. By the end of the second week informed nongovernmental groups had already begun to call on the Administration to use the term "genocide," causing diplomats and lawyers at the State Department to begin debating the word's applicability soon thereafter. In order not to appreciate that genocide or something close to it was under way, U.S. officials had to ignore public reports and internal intelligence and debate.
Maybe Power didn't have this in mind when she told the Scotsman that Hillary Clinton is "stooping to anything." But it's certainly possible.

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