Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Where Are they Now?

From the Washington Post, January 5, 2009:

But no one needs to read the tea leaves on one particular aspect of Obama's foreign policy: Obama, Clinton and Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. have all called for aggressive American action against humanitarian crises and genocide. Susan E. Rice, Obama's nominee for U.N. ambassador, has said that if a Rwanda-style genocide began again, she "would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required." Samantha Power, a leading proponent for an interventionist American policy in humanitarian crises, was a senior Obama adviser during the presidential campaign.

"Look empirically at the kind of people who will populate the decision-making positions in the new administration and compare them with the principals" in the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations, said John Prendergast, co-chairman of the Enough Project, an advocacy group that fights genocide. "What we will get, possibly for the first time in my life, is leadership from the top in these crises."
I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that Obama is a mainstream politician with little real interest in alleviating chronic, underpublicized humanitarian disasters in far-off lands. It's still early in his administration and I hope I'm wrong. But he's certainly not yet taken any meaningful action on any of Africa's multiple crises. Nor has he shown courage on other issues requiring moral leadership, such as gay rights, civil liberties, the Armenian genocide, and so on. I know: he's got a lot on his plate. No president since Roosevelt has come to office with so many urgent national and international problems to deal with. Still, I am starting to worry that he may turn out to be more like Clinton than Bush, who at least dedicated substantial sums to the AIDS catastrophe.

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