by William Boardman atReader Supported News
What is so remarkable and troubling about the presentation we’ve heard today is that what Russia really wants from the U.N. is credit. Congratulations, Russia, you’ve stopped, for a couple days, from using incendiary weapons. Thank you for not using cluster bombs in civilian areas. Thank you for staying the hand of brutality with regard to bunker buster weapons. You don’t get congratulations and get credit for not committing war crimes for a day or a week. Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN, October 26, 2016
Samantha Power is the face of American diplomacy at the UN, where she gives ardent voice to American hypocrisy, deceit, intellectual dishonesty, and mockery of the rest of the world. Appalling as her performance has been, her portrayal is accurate, right down to her denial-laden confidence in American exceptionalism.
Power’s comment above came in the midst of a discussion of the carnage in Syria, a discussion without substance or pity, without a care for ending the killing. Her tone and content were in sharp, ugly contrast to the report of UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien addressing the Security Council about the layered wars in Syria that began with peaceful protests early in 2011:
Each month, I have come before you and presented an ever-worsening record of destruction and atrocity, grimly cataloguing the systematic destruction of a country and its people. While my job is to relay to you the facts, I cannot help but be incandescent with rage. Month after month, worse and worse, and nothing is actually happening to stop the war, stop the suffering.
Stephen O’Brien is “incandescent with rage” at the outrage that is Syria, and the perhaps greater outrage of inaction by the Security Council as a body as well as its individual states. O’Brien bears witness to destruction and atrocity that the council cannot stop and to which its member states contribute. They do not express rage, incandescent or otherwise; they express the snide posturing of politics and tactical advantage.
Vitaly Churkin, the Russian Federation’s ambassador to the UN, said O’Brien had delivered a sermon, not an objective report. Churkin said that the Russian Federation continued to negotiate with armed groups, continued to deliver humanitarian aid by the ton, and continued the eight-day-old bombing pause. Churkin said Aleppo was worse because the Al Nusra Front had not yet fulfilled its promise to separate from more moderate opposition forces. Churkin said that negotiation demands were constantly changing, that fighters used civilians as human shields, that a political solution should remain the first priority, and that New Zealand should be thanked for working to build a consensus among the members to end the fighting.
The American response is as heartbreaking as ever:
Samantha Power responded to the Russian assertion of facts not with rebuttal, but with sarcasm, mockery, and pettiness. Hers is an essentially ad hominem response that allows no credit for a bombing halt of any duration. And no wonder. Power speaks for a country that bombs others more or less at will for as long as it likes. The US has bombed Afghanistan without serious surcease since 2001, and Iraq almost as long. The US continues to participate in the Saudi Arabian coalition’s relentless bombing of Yemen’s hospitals, schools, and funerals, taking part in war crimes as part of a criminal war.
Mockingly, the ambassador from the country of military shock and awe acts as if her hands are clean from decades of devastation visited upon the region. Power acts as if the US aerial destruction brought to bear on defenseless tribes in Afghanistan and Pakistan or defenseless urban civilians in Syria, Iraq and Yemen had never happened. Power has nothing to say about American use of depleted uranium weapons that leave their targets – both people and the land – as radioactive threats to human health for generations.
The US/Saudi assault on Yemen uses cluster bombs in civilian areas, but Samantha Power has no sarcastic objection to that. The US manufactures cluster bombs – banned by most of the rest of the world – to sell to the Saudis to use in civilian areas in Yemen. The US had no hesitation using bunker-busting bombs in laying waste to Iraq.
Beyond her heavy-handed mockery, Power offered nothing useful. She might have admitted the constant pattern of American war crimes, especially since 2001, whether torture, kidnapping, imprisonment at dark sites, drone strikes, or any of the other horrific acts of American policy throughout the Middle East since World War II. Being the United States means never having to say you’re sorry, no matter how sorry your human rights record, no matter how sorry your fidelity to international law, and worst of all in the world of power politics, no matter how sorry your actual accomplishments are. No matter how monstrous American behavior becomes, Samantha Power is paid to praise it as the necessary actions of the world’s indispensible nation.
In 2008, when Samantha Power was part of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, she famously called Hillary Clinton a “monster.” So does it take one to know one?
William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
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