Samantha Power On Sergio Vieira De Mello

Samantha Power and me at Politics and Prose

Chasing The FlameA remarkable woman has written a book on a remarkable man who lived an extraordinary life. Tonight I went to hear Samantha Power speak at Politics and Prose on her new book Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World. Samantha Power, who is a senior advisor for Barack Obama, currently teaches at the Kennedy School of Government. She is the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. I am a big fan.

Sergio Vieira de Mello was the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights when he was sent to Iraq as the UN special representative in the aftermath of the American invasion in 2003. On August 19, 2003 he died after a truck bomb attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad. With his death the world lost an extraordinary diplomat, a humanitarian and a man who spent over three decades working to resolve conflicts all around the world, from Bangladesh to Bosnia, from Sudan to Lebanon, from Kosovo to Iraq, and many other conflicts. Sergio began his career in Bangladesh, helping distribute food and resettle returning refugees as a new nation emerged from the ashes of a united Pakistan. He went on to become one of the most widely respected diplomats in world. At the time of his death he was on the short list to become the next UN Secretary General.

A biography of Sergio Vieira de Mello is also the story of the major world crises in the last three decades. Its a story of delicate peacemaking,  false steps, dealing with ethnic struggles, negotiating with dictators and bringing hope to refugees and those in need. I have been waiting for this book for a long time. I am thrilled that Samantha Power has brought the story of this fascinating life to a wider audience.


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8 Responses to Samantha Power On Sergio Vieira De Mello

  1. MMR Jalal says:

    Sergio began his career in Bangladesh, helping distribute food and resettle returning refugees as a new nation emerged from the ashes of a united Pakistan. He went on to become one of the most widely respected diplomats in world. At the time of his death he was on the short list to become the next UN Secretary General.

    Thanks, Mash
    Nice Posting

  2. Robin Khundkar says:

    Mash – Did you ask Samantha why in her book on Genocide the events of “Bangladesh 1971” did not get any attention. I have always wondered why 1971 did not get any academic scholarly attention that say Timor, Cambodia, Bosnia etc did.

  3. Mash says:

    Robin bhai, I didnt get to ask her about her coverage of BD in “A problem from Hell” in the brief time I spoke to her. She briefly mentioned the Bangladesh genocide in her book and noted Archer Blood’s telegram. However, given that the book was about American response to genocide it seems to me that the Bangladesh genocide was a prime case for study and deserved more ink (tons of documentation about Nixon’s support of genocide now exists at the National Security Archive). So, it appears to be a curious omission. Her focus in the book seemed to be on genocides that she herself had previous knowledge of or regions she had visited. Nonetheless, Samantha Power has raised the profile of genocide study with her first book, and with I am sure this book as well. I think that can only raise awareness of Bangladesh genocide as well. At her talk and at other venues, she has advocated passionately the need for US foreign policy to focus more on genocide prevention.

    There has been a recent paper on the politics behind why Bangladesh genocide does not get enough scholarly attention. Donald Beacher of Ithaca College published on this topic last December and it is an interesting read. He argues that a number of factors (US support of Pakistan, lack of a political constituency in the US, the fact that the genocide perpetrators – the Pakistan govt – have not been toppled, internal politics of Bangladesh itself) have contributed to this lack of significant scholarship and the growing genocide denial.

    We need to supplement the work of Donald Beacher and others by amplifying their research.

  4. Sergio, dear Samantha, I have known inside of our family circle. As a child. Afterwards, after some years, when I was 15 years old and he, 16. But he was not a teenager. A mature man in all the levels. So, since then, we have been tohether ( personally till 1998 when I became very sick, and did not want to be seen ). I thought it would be again a separation. But it was not. His books, dedicated to me, shows what he was already at that time : a philosopher. The first one was , his Nietsche. He had his path on life based on it. We interpreted the book in the same way. He did overcome. I remember his transformation. He wanted to study chemistry. Then, he changed little by little. He used to cry, on my arms, because of world s misery. Those who suffer. He told me : . He wanted to take to Paris. To marry him. . I was not mature enough to leave : fear of my catholic portuguiese family. I cannot forgive me. His tears. And my dispair, inside of the cage, the family. Then, he married. And I did too. And separation came. For me, the divorse. We did love each other in the most deepest way. On the level of the Soul. After Bangladesch, we have met again. And then, forever and ever. Again and again. With . I was not his lover. Not a friend. Not a sister. We were Inspiration to each other, inside of a Treasure od Diamonds, in Silence, to keep the Beauty. He used to say : . And so, we did. In Paris, always. Sometimes, even for one day. He came and went again. Sometimes for some few weeks. But time does not count. The extenal time. Only the internal time, where we were not separated. Once we met outside of Paris : Pompeia. Only once. I have a book and two brick stones, he has found on the floor. His books, dedicated to me, beautifully, are there beside me. Till today. Philosophy. And poetry… Rilke. And the meanfull objects as well, including an old, antique, precious edition of . So, as a person-woman : … how can I survive ? I have been under treatments here in Berlin. Now under a special therapy : . But I still hear his voice, I feel his hands on my hands and face. But one thing : he has shown me a Way … a beautiful one. After his death, that he could never believe, actually. All this, I mean, my story and history with him, my silence and sufferings because of the fear of his Destiny. But he always sais thank you, my dear, Tete. You have aloud my Destiny : the battle field. And I have to be full of Joy, because I have known him as a whole : in terms of external time, his path on terms of studies ( since the school )and then, Sotbone, till the professional one when he did decide for the UNO. And the most important : his internal Path, his transformatio from existentialist having his doubts on theexistence of a God till his deep Faith in something above us, aSupreme Soul. And his Love for me and mine for Him, independently of other on this level, that were . I had to write this for you. I had to. You are an important person on his life. Yesterday, in reading Gideon Rachman at Financial Times , tears came into my Heart again. He, GR, has answered me, thrugh his BlackBerry : . God, how my life is. And totally blocked by the System … With all my respect and love, Teresa de Souza, Berlin. P.S.: I am writting very quickly, so I am sorry for the grammar and typing mistakes …

  5. I have just read , dear Samantha, what I have written, so quickly, so much under emotions … Oh, so many grammar and typing mistakes. I will write it again. It is already registred . R .

    I am writting about Him. But about his Internal Path. The one I have known, since I was a child.

    So, it was he, Sergio, who told me, so many times, I am the one who knows it. So much spiritual intimacy. And also what is behind his dedication ( books ) he has given me. It makes him so transparent ! A side people do not know … I know he knows I would write about it. With respect.

    And I thank you for the things you have done for him and have done at all : to everybody.

    Teresa de Souza, Curator and Researcher ( Art, Philosophy, Economics ). 18th March 2008

  6. Dear Mash, I have sent you an e-mail ( a personal one ) asking you to delete my first Comment ( March 12th ), once , in writing so quickly AND without knowing it would be exposed_ONLINE I did some ‘ typing ‘ mistakes .

    I will write it again , but calmly. The content is the TRUTH … so , nothing more to be said.

    So, please, do it.

    I do thank you in advance.

    Teresa de Souza
    Curator_Reasearcher ( Art, Philosohy, Economics )

  7. Hello , Mash , you still did not deleted the Message written on March 12th 2008 … Written quickly , full of typing errors … Under emotions . And jumping some words …

    I can see Internet can be a kind of a trap … You know I have written to Samantha and YOU , actually , but NOT to be ONLINE … The masses can take in another way … I will write it again … the SAME content , but NOT in an Hermetic_Yoga language anymore .

    It can bring to misunderstandings , when nothing more than a very deep spiritual_intellectual connection was present there with us . After our marriages .

    I mean LOVE in itself , as one uses the word , was for his Wife – this beautiful and discreet Soul and his Children . And to whom he would go back … and go into himself : his Spirit_Soul.

    And our connection would be there anyway , clear , as it was … pure , so , nothing to hide after so many dramas around him . It was not hidden , but protected , before all this . This I still have with many friends , to protect the Beauty_Light .

    And also : very once in a while . But time does not count …

    Now there is the Foundation in Geneva to honor him . And continue his Work .

    His family and friends , very much engaged .

    And about my book or books on him : it was there since I was 20 years old or so , in many pieces of papers and notebooks , during all these years … Some poems , including … when he was not known at all . The books was actually about my PATH in life , and the titles , then l, after on , suggested by friends in Germany would be A Soul full of Fissures and the other one Blood as Poetry .

    And now , I would never write_publish anything or take any kind of action , without asking his Wife , Annie . Never .

    So , the mentioned Message above , has – in a way – nothing to do with the real_reality I mean here : the one to be ONLINE .

    Best , Teresa de Souza

  8. Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying » Samantha Power On Sergio Vieira De Mello was a wonderful read. I love it, I can read this stuff forever, keep em coming!

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