‘Facts Should Drive’ Genocide Analysis, Says Power

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Ranking Republican Robert Corker (R-TN) with U.S. Ambassador to the UN nominee Samantha Power (AP Photo)

WASHINGTON—UN Ambassador-nominee Samantha Power said during her confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday that “facts should drive” analysis of Genocide.

This came in response to a series of questions from committee chairman, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who was probing Power’s position on Genocide, given her past record of being an advocate for Armenian Genocide recognition.

Power played an instrumental role in getting Sen. Obama to issue a strongly-worded statement on the Armenian Genocide and Armenian issues in general during Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. She also made a video in which she recounted Sen. Obama’s outstanding record on issues of special concern to Armenian Americans, including his “very forthright statement on the Armenian Genocide; his support for the Senate Resolution acknowledging the Genocide; his willingness as President to commemorate it and call a ’spade a spade’; and to speak the truth about it.”

Power failed to deliver—just as the Obama Administration—on her pledge to get US recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

“Is genocide, genocide when all of the facts that we observe would lead to a conclusion that a genocide has taken place, or is that only when it is convenient to acknowledge it as genocide?” asked Menendez.

“The former, the facts should drive the analysis,” responded Power.

“And if the facts drive the analysis, then we should call that set of actions–whether historical in nature or present, god forbid–in reality a genocide,” queried Menendez.

“I believe so, yes,” said Power.

“Is violation of human rights a violation of human rights depending upon where it takes place, or is it universal?” asked Menendez, to which Power responded: “Universal, sir.”

“I think you understand why I asked you those questions. And I hope that your past history in this regard–even in the context of understanding the new role that you’ll play–will not diminish your fire for making the case internally why genocide should be called genocide when the historical facts attain themselves to that standard,” Menendez told Power, who had no response to the statement.

Menendez told Power that he is “incredibly appreciative of the principled position you’ve taken on the Armenian Genocide.”

At the start of the highly anticipated and widely broadcast hearing, Chairman Menendez noted that, “You have been an unrelenting, principled voice when it comes to human rights and crimes against humanity – and I know that voice will be heard around the world — should you be confirmed,” adding: “Personally, I am incredibly appreciative of the principled position you’ve taken on the Armenian Genocide. In 2007, you wrote in Time Magazine – ‘a stable, fruitful, 21st century relationship’ [with Turkey] cannot be built on a lie,’ and I completely agree,” reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

The New Jersey Democrat also stressed that, “Your belief that we should use the lessons of what clearly was an atrocity of historic proportions to prevent future crimes against humanity is a view consistent with my own and which is supported by your role on the President’s Atrocities Prevention Board.  I agree that we must acknowledge and study the past, understand how and why atrocities happen, to put-into-practice and giving meaning to the phrase, “never again.”

Watch the video of the opening remarks by Chairman Menendez.

Watch the hearing

In 2003, Power received the Pulitzer Prize in literature for the best general non-fiction book was awarded to Samantha Power for her book “A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide.”

Power’s book revisited the Armenian Genocide–the Holocaust–Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge–Iraqi attacks on Kurdish populations–Rwanda–and Bosnian ethnic cleansing. Power makes a compelling argument that US intervention in all these instances of genocide has been inadequate.

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