In defense of Samantha Power

To understand what Power is all about one must first realize that for her, genocide prevention, or the prevention of any mass atrocities against civilian populations for that matter, is not an abstract academic concept.

Samantha Power
Photo by: REUTERS
Every once in a great while – far too rarely to be sure – an individual acquires near-iconic stature in a given field of human endeavor.  Samantha Power, whom US President Barack Obama has appointed to be the next US Ambassador to the United Nations, is such a person.

I write as the teacher of seminars on the law of genocide and war crimes trials at Columbia Law School, Cornell Law School, and Syracuse University College of Law.  Power's Pulitzer Prize winning book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide is far more than an indispensable resource.  It provides the background for and frames many of the discussions in my classes on how atrocities such as the Holocaust, the massacres at Srebrenica, and the Armenian and Rwandan genocides were allowed to occur.

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