The story of Samantha Power, president Obama’s nominee to be US Ambassador to the UN, provides a telling example of how the political and media system filters out those who do not conform to the narrow spectrum of views required to rise in either government or the media.
Power started out having fairly progressive views on human rights, though with a disturbing tendency to be willing to use the US military to solve political problems. But as she sought to get a high position in government, she has started to modify them, becoming what we would label as neoconservative. While neoconservatives care little for human rights, they share with her a willingness, even eagerness, to project US power all over the globe.
But does she ‘really’ believe the neoconservative ideas she now espouses or is it a tactical move on her part? Liberals tend to think that such people need to talk this way in order to get into office and after that they will pursue the things they really believe in. This is a forlorn hope. A person willing to dissemble this way is a person who is a careerist without strong convictions and will inevitably continue to say such things in pursuit of her goal of rising even higher. She will now find herself moving in circles that think along those same lives, distancing herself from former colleagues who disagree with her, until these new views become internalized and she will ‘honestly’ believe them.
A person with strong convictions would gag at the idea of betraying a fundamental principle and would not even be nominated. That is how the filtering system works, by eliminating those with principles that go against the required mindset and letting in those who already agree or are ambitious and malleable enough to adopt those views. Power provides a real time example of that process taking place.
Apart from Power’s by-now obligatory groveling to the Israel lobby and saying nothing about its ethnic cleansing policies that is a requirement for any office requiring senate approval, her testimony to the US senate last week as part of her nomination process castigated what she called ‘repressive regimes’ and said that she would contest “the crackdown on civil society being carried out in countries like Cuba, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela”. Her remarks were later endorsed by the state department. Observers quickly noted that her list ignored countries like Saudi Arabia and other repressive governments that are egregious violators of human rights but are either allies or client states of the US.
Venezuela in particular took umbrage at her remarks and canceled talks that has been initiated just recently to ease the tensions between them. The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry took this opportunity to lecture the US on its hypocrisy, issuing a statement that said that “the whole world is constantly expressing its concern over repressive practices carried out by the United States.” It continued:
“They include the violation of human rights at the illegal prison in Guantánamo, the killing of civilians by drones, and the lamentable persecution unleashed against Edward Snowden.”
It said the 30-year-old former National Security Agency contractor had been subjected to “the most fierce repression” for exercising his right to denounce US practices “that violate, among others, the right to privacy of all the world’s people”.
Every word of that indictment is true. But since Venezuela is officially a pariah state in the eyes of the US government and media, these words will be dismissed.