Irish born White House foreign policy specialist Samantha Power said this week she believes President Obama’s two-year international campaign to promote human rights helped trigger the uprising in Libya against Moammar Gadhafi’s rule.
In a speech she gave on Monday at Columbia University Power, currently the director of multilateral affairs at the National Security Council, defended her strong support for the military operation against Gadhafi’s forces.
"The president has argued our interests and our values cannot be separated," Power told the university audience. "These values have caused the people of Libya to risk their lives on the street."
Power claimed that the president, through a series of speeches he gave in various foreign capitals, had made it easier for other nations to stand with the United States against home grown tyrants.
Power responded to a question on the military operation to impose a no-fly zone, saying that "force can be justified on humanitarian grounds"
To underline her point Power added that the international coalition had acted to protect the rebel-stronghold city of Benghazi because of Gadhafi’s ruthless attacks.
"On a single day, he killed 1,200 people on suspicion of being anti-government rebels," she said.
"To put Libyan events in historical perspective," she added, "in Libya, it took us nine days impose asset freezes and travel bans," while pressuring regimes in the Balkans and other places took years.
Last week The New York Times revealed that Power, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had countered reluctant military leaders to persuade president Obama to launch military operations against Gadhafi’s forces, under the guise of protecting civilians.
Clinton told the press on Sunday that "we learned a lot" from not doing enough to stop genocide in Rwanda and ethnic killings in the Balkans in the 1990's.