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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