Samantha Power & the Obama Controversy

It’s rare that professors find themselves at the center of a political firestorm. But that’s where Samantha Power, Professor of Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at Harvard, found herself last week when, during an off-the-record conversation with a reporter, she referred to Hillary Clinton as a “monster” and then had to resign as senior foreign policy to adviser to Barack Obama.

Until then, Power had been riding a big wave of success. Only 37 years old, she won the Pulitzer Prize for her first book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. She’s also now promoting her second book, Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World. (Watch a clip from the book tour here). And until this high profile slip-up, she was clearly helping shape Obama’s foreign policy. You can hear Power’s influence in how Obama answered the highly publicized question last summer — would you, as president, negotiate directly with Iran’s Ahmadinejad? (He said yes.) Power’s thinking on international diplomacy gets articulated fairly well in this lengthy interview. Below, we’ve also posted a clip (from of Power speaking about Obama and the question of negotiating with enemies. (Get the full talk here.)

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